A Memorial Plaque for Tom Vallance.
Last weekend at Hillfoot Cemetery we placed a memorial plaque to Rangers great Tom Vallance. The plaque was funded by our Restoration of Rangers Graves Project.
To quote his Rangers team-mates from the 1870’s “The whole of Rangers loved him like a brother’’
Over the years of our research into the formation of our Club one name kept popping up time and again and that’s the name of Tom Vallance, who had on reflection sadly been overlooked.
Tom was born at a small farmhouse known as Succoth near Renton in the parish of Cardross. When young he moved with his family to the Old Toll House at Shandon on the Gareloch. Tom came to Glasgow in the early 1870’s following the path taken by his friends whom he’d known since childhood the brothers McNeil and Campbell.
Tom had an astonishing 60 year association with our Club, and his is an incredible CV. He was a master oarsman, a champion athlete (he set a Scottish long jump record of over 21 feet), he studied at the Glasgow School of Art, had paintings accepted by the Royal Scottish Academy and was Rangers Club Captain and President for many years.
We have details of Tom Vallance being present at the ceremony held on 1st January 1929 which saw the opening of the Main Stand at Ibrox and also at a dinner which was held in the St.Enoch’s Hotel after a Rangers match in 1933 when we faced Sporting Club of Vienna. He was also a guest of the Club at the New Year’s Day fixture that season against Celtic. So the lad who was present at Fleshers Haugh in 1872 is still attending Ibrox some 60 years later where the Club that he’d helped form and nurture were now playing in front of crowds in excess of 100,000.
Tom was a successful business man. He had The Club restaurant at 22 Paisley Road West which today is the Viceroy Bar, The Metropolitan which stood on Hutchison Street in the Merchant City area of Glasgow and the Lansdowne which was at 183 Hope Street. Tom was having the Rangers results wired to his restaurants for the benefit of his patrons as early as 1890.When Rangers moved to First Ibrox in 1887 it was said that it was common for Club President Vallance to be working the turnstiles on matchday.
We have a newspaper report detailing Tom and Founder Moses McNeil attending the 1905 Scottish Cup Final as supporters. At the opening of the Main Stand in 1929 Tom Vallance recalled the facilities being so cramped at the Rangers ground at Kinning Park that the players would have to wash in basins of cold water in the open air.
It was the teenage Tom Vallance who helped lay the very foundations upon which our Club was built, hard-work, discipline, honesty, integrity and fair play .Mr. Struth said during that famous speech “No matter the days of anxiety that come our way, we shall emerge stronger because of the trials to be overcome. That has been the philosophy of the Rangers since the days of the Gallant Pioneers”.
Tom was paid the ultimate accolade by the Club in May 1898 when he was made a life member. As a lasting tribute to the incredible contribution he made to our Club we had Tom put on to canvas by way of a painting by artist Helen Runciman .Tom Vallance has now taken his rightful place at the top of the Marble Staircase alongside his friends and fellow Founders.
Tom was one of the originals, one of the greats.
Today we remember and celebrate the life of Tom Vallance.