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'The way we won the Treble' by Jock Wallace


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Just thinking about the big chap the other day when thinking of great Rangers managers

Here’s Jocks interview in Playing for Rangers No. 8 with Ken Gallacher.

THE WAY WE WON THE TREBLE by Jock Wallace

I was a couple of days after the gala night at Ibrox. Manager Jock Wallace was relaxing in his office, trying to wind down after the excitement of the ‘treble’ victory. A pile of letters and telegrams littered this desk; streams of well-wishing visitors filed in and out – some from as far off as Australia.

It had been Rangers’ year and Wallace’s year too and the fans were paying their homage. Somehow, though, between the visits and the constantly ringing telephone we found time to talk.

And it was in this interview that Wallace talked most freely about that hat-trick of trophy wins – the victories in the League Cup, the Scottish Cup and the Championship. He opened up, talking freely about his team and about Rangers Football Club.

I asked the questions – then simply sat back to savour the answers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ken: When did you find yourself consciously thinking about winning the ‘treble’?

Jock: I was thinking about it right from the very start of the season. I spoke to the players before the season opened and I spelled it out for them that far back. I pointed out that we had won the League Championship the year before and if we were good enough to win that then we were good enough to lift all three of the big ones at home.

What I wanted to drive home to them was that we had earned success and now we had to live with that success and grow with it. We had to keep our feet on the ground, not get carried away with one title and so I told them I wanted more. I meant it too, by the way. I could sense that they were still improving, that there were more victories in the. I had seen signs of that on the close season tour.

Ken: Were you worried that the team would fail you around that time of the season when you lost to St Etienne and dropped a few League points as well?

Jock: We did win the League Cup then, of course. Don’t forget that. But you’re right; the League results worried me a little. We weren’t doing as well as I had expected. We weren’t doing nearly as well as I had expected, as I thought we should be doing. We had to get ourselves back on the rails again and so a change or two had to be made in the composition and in the playing pattern of the team.

Johnny Hamilton was one of the players who came in and he stayed in and I think he has proved me right in picking him then. We hadn’t been scoring goals either at the same rate we had scored them the year before. It was another problem at that time…

Ken: Basically the three players that were brought in were Alex Miller at the back, Johnny Hamilton in the middle of the field and Martin Henderson up front – these were the major changes, weren’t they?

Jock: Yes, they were, though there was a fair bit of shifting things around done as far as the playing pattern was concerned. We made alterations there as well, remember. It isn’t always as simple as changing personnel.

Ken: OK, that’s accepted. Still, the changes were made and the players came in. Were you worried about bringing these lads in at all?

Jock: Well, Alex Miller, he’d been over the course before, so to speak. When we won the title Alex Miller had been in for about half the games. Remember Greigy was injured and missed matches and it was Alex who took over. So he had won a League medal and had proved himself as far as I was concerned.

I’d no fears for him at all because he had shown his character the season before. He is a determined laddie and he works hard at the game. He improved a whole lot with playing in the first team and he’ll improve still more. There are one or two aspects of his game that he has to work on – but he’ll do that because he wants to be a better player.

Ken: How about Johnny Hamilton, then? He was almost untried as far as the first team were concerned. You’d signed him on a free transfer from Hibs and he hadn’t broken through. Did you think you might have made a mistake signing him?

Jock: No, not at all. He was doing a job for us in the reserves with the younger players. Actually he had been playing more in the back four than anywhere else for them – as a ‘sweeper’. He deserved the chance, though, when it came. I wanted to use him and he lived up to my expectations. Hammy knows he has to keep it going, or he will be out. But he has done it and he has a lot of skill to offer. His passing helped settle the team a lot. That’s the job he had to do and I was happy with him. Admittedly he did have to wait a long time for his chance but you have to give him credit. When the chance came he took it and he held onto it.

Ken: And Martin Henderson?

Jock: Well, it wasn’t luck that he was on the bench the day Derek Parlane broke his collar bone. We had had our eye on him for a while. There were signs there the season before and that’s why he went on tour with us around the world. That helped him. He scored a few goals in these games and gained experience. Actually when Derek was injured he had dried up a bit as far as getting goals were concerned. It was funny, you know. There was he playing week after week – but the goals just weren’t going in for him. Martin came in and he did get a few goals which also helped his confidence. He was on the verge of the breakthrough before Derek was hurt. The way it is at Ibrox we try to gauge when a player might be ready to go with the first team, then when he might be ready to stay in the team. We were bang on the button with Martin. He went on tour and showed us what he was made of in Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Then at home he helps us win the treble. That can’t be bad for a nineteen year old boy.

Ken: That’s covered the fresher faces – how about the player you praised most of all last year? How about big Derek Johnstone, the player you claim is the best in Britain. What makes you think that?

Jock: That’s easy to answer. Derek Johnstone is the one player in the whole of Britain who can do a different job for a team every week and do all of them magnificently. You play him up front – he gets you goals. You play him in the midfield – he adds power to any team there and still gets goals. You play him at centre half – and you have a world beater! That’s the way I look at the big fellow. Sure he had a wee bad spell last season at the start and I was criticised a little bit for standing by him. Don’t forget, though, at the time he was still scoring goals for us. It was simply a question of form. There was nothing wrong with his fitness or anything else. He had a form problem and I played him through it – and all the time he kept popping in goals. Probably because I believe in his ability so much I persevered a little bit longer with him than I might have done with other players.

I see him as the new John Charles, the kind of player who comes along only now and again, and who can play well literally anywhere. Charles was that way and there was the fellow with Leeds United, Paul Madeley, too. He could play in a few different roles – though he doesn’t reach the high standards Derek has. The big man has class. Look at the way he kept scoring goals until he overhauled Willie Pettigrew of Motherwell to be joint top scorer in Scotland. Then remember how superbly he played at Celtic Park when he was at centre half. He strolled through that one. There is no one in Britain who can match him and there are a few people who agree with me on that!

Ken: Moving away from players for the moment, just how hard was it to win the new-styled League this season? Was that the most difficult of the three trophies to win?

Jock: I think so. The way the Premier League is built means that it must be a very, very difficult League to win. We have only the top ten teams playing in it and we have to play each other four times – that means a whole lot of hard, hard matches to win if you to be successful. We went unbeaten for a long, long time before we eventually overtook Celtic at the top. I think that we would have gone to the front in almost any other League in the world with the kind of run we put together. And we knew we just had to keep on winning because we had to wait for a Celtic slip. Back about February we were behind them by a point and on goal difference as well. OK, we knew that we had to play them still, but it was tight. The great thing for us was that we finished strongly. Most years since I came to Ibrox the team have finished the season strongly – not always successfully, mind you, but powerfully. The year was no exception and we seemed to gain momentum as every League match slipped by.

Ken: How much of a success did you find the Premier League?

Jock: I was a hard League to ply in, there’s no doubt about that, and increased competition means better games. I honestly believe that the games last season were of a higher standard and that this will continue. Look at the season just gone – nothing was decided until the last couple of weeks. Until then we knew St Johnstone were relegated – but nothing else. We won the League title, Hibs beat Motherwell for a place in Europe and with the very last kick of the ball Dundee United drew at Ibrox in our final game and that meant Dundee went into the First Division. It was incredible. The fans like that type of thing; they want a League to be tough. They want to see meaningful games until the end of the season and that’s exactly what they got.

Ken: The one disappointment you suffered in the season was losing to St Etienne. How do you feel about that now?

Jock: Really, I would have liked to get hold of the French team around February or March in the quarter finals when we were going a bit. Instead we caught them when we weren’t going so well. It was at the time I talked about earlier when we were losing League points. Still, they were a good team. I knew that from the moment I watched them in France – maybe even before that. After all they reached the European Cup semi-finals the before when they last to Bayern Munich – and they won their own title in that same season. That’s good going anywhere. They had a few good players, Piazza, Bathenay and Larque to name just three of them. I was impressed by them and it didn’t surprise me when they went on to do well in the rest of the tournament. We had the chance of watching them in the Final at Hampden. That made me a wee bit sick because we might have been there ourselves if we had played against them the way we were playing later in the season. Still, that’s how it goes in this game.

Ken: What was your own personal highlight from the season?

Jock: There are several – the Scottish Cup Final when we clinched the ‘treble’ … and the game at Tannadice when we won the League. That was special too in its own way because we had gone up there convinced that we would not be champions until the following Monday when we had to face Celtic at Celtic Park. We were in front at that stage but we did not expect Celtic to drop points to Ayr United at home. That’s how it worked out though. The fans were going crazy all the time during the second half of our match at Tannadice because they were getting the scores on their radios. But I didn’t believe it until Willie Waddell came downstairs after seeing the final result announced on the telly. That’s when I went into the dressing room to tell the boys. Then we went out and did a lap of honour.

Ken: It happened once or twice in games, didn’t it, that the news of Celtic losing swept down from the terracing onto the field. Does this help the players?

Jock: Of course it does. It lifts them that bit, they know whenever they start to go wild on the terracing that something is happening that is good for us.

The support we have is tremendous. They were great at Tannadice and then at the Scottish Cup Final they were even better. They took Hampden over for the day and we were delighted with them. They help the team. There is no doubt about that. It’s a great feeling to be there in front of them, knowing that all of them would do anything just to help the club. And they have helped us, they make a contribution to winning trophies and we are all well aware of that at Ibrox.

Ken: I suppose a lot of that stems from the club’s tradition.

Jock: It does. I used to be on the terracing myself, most of the people at the club were the same. It’s not just the players and the manager who make a team successful, nor just them and the fans. So many people were behind our success last season. You see we have a family at Ibrox and the women who make the tea and the grounds man who gets the pitch in order and the women who wash the jerseys – they are all involved. From the bottom right to Director Level, we on the playing side know their value. With them we wouldn’t be able to achieve success.

Ken: Getting back to success, would it be fair to assume your next target is the European Cup?

Jock: No. I keep on telling you my next target is the next game. OK it would be nice to win the European Cup, nice to win the treble again, maybe rack up six or seven of them. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. As I’m talking to you now our next match is in Vancouver and that’s the one I’m thinking about. They are all important to Rangers, you know.

Ken: I find it interesting that you should be asked back to Vancouver so quickly – you were there playing just a year ago.

Jock: Aye, we were. And when we got off the plane there after a long, long flight our players went off the way we like Rangers players to go off. They went off wearing their club blazers and slacks, and collars and ties. We don’t believe in slovenliness – and that impressed the people in Vancouver as much as our football did, I think. We won there, too, remember. But, back to what I was saying, one of the British Columbia officials told me that he had never seen a better behaved, better turned out football team arriving in his city. That did me.

Ken: Do you see that as part of the training, part of the old Ibrox tradition?

Jock: Certainly, I do. We have them like that when they are boys and it stays with them. Just think back to that gala day (before the final match of the season the previous treble winning teams played each other for 15 minutes) and the way the old players turned out that night. The players from 1949 and 1964 were all there and they were there because there is still a bit of Ibrox, a bit of Rangers living with them all. They loved being back and I loved seeing them all.

Ken: It sounds as if you enjoyed the night as much as the forty thousand fans did?

Jock: You’re right; I did – except that we didn’t win the game to give the fans something to sing about. Apart from that it was a great night. They were all there, weren’t they – Willie Woodburn, George Young, Sammy Cox, Willie Paton, Bobby Brown, Jim Baxter, Bobby Shearer, Davie Wilson, Eric Caldow – some line-up. I’m up there among them, too, and there are some of them calling me Mr Wallace. Older men, I mean, men I used to watch when I was just a youngster and they’re calling me ‘Mr’. That’s part of the Rangers’ discipline, isn’t it? The respect for the manager. It made me feel proud and a wee bit humble as well that night when that happened.

Ken: Of course there was something there to celebrate that night too. That was when the Scottish Football Writers’ Association named John Greig as their Player of the Year, wasn’t it?

Jock: It was and no one deserved it more than Greigy. He had a bad season for injuries when we won the title, then we went on tour and from our opening game in Vancouver, right through to that last match against Dundee United, John Greig was playing in the first team. He didn’t miss a game in all that time. Now it all added up to something between sixty and seventy matches for him because he was brought back into the Scotland team and made captain, too, against Denmark. He took it all in his stride and I was proud of him.

There isn’t a player who epitomizes the character, dedication and hunger that every Rangers player needs added to his skill to become a first team man at Ibrox, better than John Greig. He had to go through some lean years with the club but he battled on and he’s still there to celebrate successes.

I watched him with all these older players at that gala night party and he was one of them. I’ll tell you he walked tall with any one of them and there were a few players there that the fans look on as immortals. Well, as far as I’m concerned John Greig is as great as any of them. Down through the years there have been wonderful, wonderful captains of Rangers – none better than the one I’ve had battling with me for the past few years.

I know just how much work he put in by himself to make sure he would carry on. There were doubts expressed about his future when the season started – there was none at the end. He is an example to any young player. John Greig has looked after himself, trained on his own the way a boy starting in the game would do… and it was a fantastic achievement to play in every match to win us the treble.

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The Wallace tribute to his captain ended the interview. The big, hard man image had faded slightly as he talked. Emotion had taken over and I remembered the comment of Hearts’ veteran keeper Jim Cruickshank who had been under Wallace’s management at Tynecastle. “He gives you that tough impression” smiled Cruickshank, “but underneath it all he’s really a big softie”. What he meant was that Wallace had a heart, had feelings for his players, and most of the Ibrox men will agree with that.

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Only the Jocks (Wallace and Stein) have won two trebles so although Ally McCoist has a hard job trying to get as many trophies as Walter he should know that he can do better than WS did in his last season - by next season winning a treble. WS will be a hard act to follow but not impossible - and for a man that has made it a habit of making records Ally will no doubt be aware that no one has ever achieved back to back trebles…

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How we never won the European cup in that era I'll never know

A missed opportunity

I think the year after he left would've been the best chance he had. Greig did well for one season in Europe but was a poor manager by past comparisons, I think had Jock been in charge of the team that beat PSV etc (that year) then he may have got there...

All guesswork i suppose.

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Beating Juventus and Eindhoven then losing to Cologne was a tough one to take. Remember going to the Cologne game and it was my first big European Night and it ended in disappointment.

Then 92-93 against the cheating bastards of Marseille. We carried a lot of luck that season on top of our brilliant football and never say die attitude.Losing Hately when he was sent off against Bruges was one loss too many as well as injuries to key players. Not to mention Tapie buying the cup.

Then again the fans from the 60's will tell you that if Baxter hadn't broken his leg we should have won it.

I don't think there is any doubt though that in the last 40 years we have had teams who have been capable of winning it but didn't.

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Another thing i liked about Jock Wallace was that 'if' Rangers had coaches that abused the trust the boys had in them, he wouldn't have stood back in silence. None of that 'greater good of the club' crap, he'd've been out with it the next day. I'm sure most Rangers managers would but with Jock Wallace you just knew what his response would've been.

Must say reading the other day Walter saying his greatest regret was not working with Jock Stein riled me - i think you picked the wrong Jock to honour with that remark.

The big chap was a great man and a great manager!

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Another thing i liked about Jock Wallace was that 'if' Rangers had coaches that abused the trust the boys had in them, he wouldn't have stood back in silence. None of that 'greater good of the club' crap, he'd've been out with it the next day. I'm sure most Rangers managers would but with Jock Wallace you just knew what his response would've been.

Must say reading the other day Walter saying his greatest regret was not working with Jock Stein riled me - i think you picked the wrong Jock to honour with that remark.

The big chap was a great man and a great manager!

When did he come out with that?

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When did he come out with that?

Seen it as a headline yesterday (i think) in i think it was the Daily Record. Naturally didn't buy it but it was in one of those newsboards, so he must've said something along those lines.

Tbh didn't read the piece as it looked like just another 'let's say nice things about Celtic to placate their fans' stories.

Can't blame Walter for wanting an easy life but having done what he did for Rangers the Celtic fans are ALWAYS GONNA HATE HIM so why bother?

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He did say it and he did express his one regret was not working with him who covered things up.

Centred around the 1986 World Cup in Mexico where Ferguson and Smith were to be his two assistants but as we all know he didn't make it and Ferguson took the helm for those 3 games.

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The early seventies was my era to start going to matches myself, including midweek away games. Great and crazy times indeed. I do remember that everyone was shit scared of Jock Wallace.:happy:

"And as for Lou Macari you can stick him up your hole". Na na na na..........

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It just shows the compassion he had for his job and his players - great man was Jock!

Bang on horse.

My Dad always said before he died in 2000 that in his day he often had a pint with Jim Baxter and Davie Wilson but these days the players and management are so detatched from Rangers,our Fans and traditions that they may as well be Chelsea and not Rangers

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