Although Tom Vallance is rightly lauded as, if not a founder of Rangers, then one of its earliest, leading lights, he was in fact a Renton boy in origin. He was born in 1856 at Succoth Farm on the Kipperoch Road above the village, the son of Road Surveyor father, born in Lesmahagow, and a mother born in Loudoun in Ayrshire, in other words by Darvel/Newmilns. However, by the time he was four the family had moved to Rhu and then Shandon, where his almost life-long association, and the sadly briefer one of his younger, Rhu-born brother, Alex, with the McNeils, the game, the Gers and Glasgow would begin. At fifteen he was an engineering apprentice still in the family home. At twenty-five he was a mechanical engineer living in Govan almost at the end of a footballing career that would from 1972 see thirty-eight club appearances in the Scottish Cup and seven Scottish caps.
Vallance was noted at six feet two inches for being tall for his time. But his position was not centre-back. It did not exist at the time. He was a full-back, mostly on the right. He was also a rower, at one point Scottish long-jump record holder, and a talented artist. But even his extensive sporting and other prowess were not enough to keep him in the game or, indeed, in Scotland. In 1882 he accepted a position to work in the tea plantations of Assam in Northern India and was on his way.
However, even someone of his physique and fitness could not there withstand the scourges of fever and dysentery and he was forced to return home after a year. And, through he went back to Rangers and football, he was never the same, so much so that after the 1883/4 season he hung up his boots. However, it was by no means the end of his association with the club with which he had become synonymous. In 1883 he had been elected club president and remained in position for six years. He also changed trades, starting in the wine and spirits business and from that later in life becoming a successful restauranteur.
In the meantime in 1887 he married. His bride was Marion, the sister of Rangers' player, Willie Dunlop. Tom's brother, Alex, also with him a Rangers' player of note, was best-man. Tom and Marion were to have two sons. One of whom was to be killed just weeks before the end of The Great War. Brother Alex too was to die young in 1898, aged thirty-eight.
Tom himself was to die aged seventy-nine in 1935 at the house the family had lived in for at least a quarter of a century in Glasgow in Blythswood. He would be buried in Hillfoot/New Kilpatrick Cemetery, survived by Marion, who would be laid alongside him some fourteen years later.
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