As featured in our matchday programme, Damon Campion visited the South Yorkshire home of Iron defender Murray Wallace as we found out more about the centre-back’s life away from Glanford Park.
Originally published in our matchday programme vs Sheffield United on 24/09/16
We don’t normally talk about football straight away but having been born in Glasgow, is it blue or green?
MW: I get asked this all the time and I’m neither, which surprises people! I’m a Jambo, I support Hearts. My mum’s partner at the time, his family were from Edinburgh and the first game I went to watch was Hearts versus Celtic, and we got pumped 3-0. I went for the underdog!
How was your childhood?
MW: It was fine, I was on the outskirts of Glasgow in a quiet little village to be honest. We were away from any trouble, it was called Eaglesham and is close to East Kilbride. There were farms everywhere and for a while it had one of the biggest windfarms in Europe. It was very rural but it was nice and I lived right next to a football pitch and then after ten years moved to the top of the hill.
Are you still in touch with friends from when you grew up?
MW: I’m quite fortunate really that a lot of my friends are still around that area, so when I go back up there it’s quite nice to go and see them all. Most of them are from school. In terms of football friends when I was younger and going through Rangers and Falkirk’s youth sides, there was a high turnover of players so it was hard to have constant friends. I have a couple I keep in touch with though. My best friend tries to come down here a lot and see me play. They all work though and it’s a long trek too so it’s tough for them. They are quality and keep me grounded.
What about your family? Are they still up there?
MW: My mum and gran are still around Glasgow. One of my uncles is still there too but my mum’s youngest brother has moved to America and he’s called Murray too! My mum and dad split up ages ago and he now lives in New Zealand. I haven’t been over yet but keep meaning to. I’ve got a younger half-brother and sister, and an older sister as well.
What are your personal hobbies?
MW: I wouldn’t say there is something I do all the time but I like sports in general. I enjoy playing tennis when I go back up the road and used to play a bit of badminton. Golf, I’ve tried and am still trying! Most of the things I enjoy involve being active, going out and doing things. That’s why I wanted to buy a jet ski to be honest, and I like going out and doing things with that. Apart from that, most of my time is spent on the PlayStation, which is quite good because I’ll talk to my friends from home and catch up that way.
Do you enjoy travelling?
MW: I’d like to travel, but because of my job it’s tough. Some friends from back home have done the Thailand for a couple of months thing. I do want to see as much of the world as I can. I’d like to go around America and go through all the states. I’d like to go to Thailand and see that side of the world, plus New Zealand and Australia.
Are you a music fan at all?
MW: I enjoy it. I like to chill out listening to it but I’m not one for concerts. I just have the radio on in the car.
Do you watch much TV or film?
MW: I have been a bit because of all the travelling we do. When we go on away trips, everyone has a couple of films downloaded onto the iPad or a new series to watch. I’ve watched all the main TV series though.
Are you a good cook?
MW: I’d like to say yes because I can make chicken fajitas. My girlfriend Nicole does a lot of the cooking though and cooks very well. I’m just basic when it’s myself – pasta, chicken, salmon and stuff like that.
Do you have a takeaway after a game on a Saturday night?
MW: I’ve never really been one for take-outs. I’d rather go to a restaurant and have a nice meal and a nice dessert. When I was 15 I used to work in a Chinese washing dishes and we’d get offered a free Chinese meal at the end of every night. After weeks and weeks of that I’m not that bothered about it anymore!
How were you at school?
MW: I was fine. Quite academic to be honest. I did well and was quite competitive. When I was in a class with other people I wanted to be the smartest. I did well with my grades and got all A’s. I could have gone to university but I wanted to play football and thankfully I got that chance.
Were you a member of a village football team or anything before you signed for Falkirk?
MW: I started off aged six and was part of Busby Boys Club and was there until 10. I then got picked up by Glasgow Rangers and was with them from 10 until 16. They make you sign one year youth contracts where you can only play for them, and we trained a lot in the week at a young age and then had games on Saturday and Sunday. When I was 16 I was taking a day off school on Tuesday to train full-time. The facilities and coaches there were unbelievable and I was thankful for that.
What was it like when you left Rangers?
MW: I got quite upset at the time because a lot of my team around me had been together and were making the step-up. The coaches said they wanted me to stay but part-time. They said I was too gangly and weren’t sure if they wanted to offer me a deal. I just felt full-time training was what I needed to fill out and become a man. I decided if they were not going to offer me full-time I’d go elsewhere. I had offers from a few teams part-time and full-time but I thought Falkirk provided me with the best chance to getting in the first team quickly. They got relegated, had to get rid of the high earners and a lot of younger players received a chance.
How did the move to Huddersfield come about?
MW: I started the season at Falkirk and was playing in the first team. We’d done well and had a good cup run, beating Rangers when they were top of the league which meant a lot to me at the time, and then played Celtic in the cup semi-final. I was playing quite well too and you start to hear the rumours about who’s watching. We got to January and it was a case of waiting and listening to see what happened. I was enjoying my football and the move came about quite quickly. Brighton initially came in and I went down to meet (their manager at the time) Gus Poyet. I did the full medical and body scan and then Ipswich and Huddersfield came in. I went to both and it felt like Huddersfield in League One would be the better move because I’d have more chance of playing and progressing. Lee Clark was manager then and they were on a long unbeaten run. I signed and immediately went back on loan - whoever I signed for that was going to happen though. Clark was sacked a few weeks later, and then Simon Grayson came in and I went at the end of the season for a week or so just to meet the lads before playing for Scotland Under-20s in a tournament. While I was away doing that they won the League One play-off final. It was mixed emotions because I was delighted to be at a Championship club but I also thought it would be harder to get in the team. The first thing they did was sign an experienced left-sided centre-back and made him one of the highest earners. I played a fair few games there though in the end and it was a big learning curve.
What was it like coming to Scunthorpe on loan?
MW: I came at the same time as Joe Lolley, who I’m good mates with. I thought he was coming just to follow me, ha! We did well on loan here and, for me, after being so frustrated at Huddersfield, playing games here was what I needed and it was quite an easy choice after that to sign permanently.
How did the international call-ups for Scotland Under-20s and Under-21s come about?
MW: I was buzzing. One of the main aims in my career is to play for the national team. After I signed for Huddersfield I stayed on loan at Falkirk and was called up for a friendly against Belgium. It was amazing to play in that. I’m not sure which stars of today were playing, but Dedryck Boyata did and Eden Hazard’s younger brother did too.
Who has been your biggest influence in football?
MW: My manager at Falkirk, Steven Pressley. That is because in the first game I watched (Hearts v Celtic), he was playing for Hearts and being a fan of the club I liked how aggressive he was as a centre-back. When I went to Falkirk he was in charge, which was crazy, because he was my boyhood hero. He really helped me in that stage of my career.
Do your family come to games?
MW: It’s tough now because of where I’m based but my mum tries to come once a month or once every two months. She’s done so much for me since a young age though. I keep telling her to chill out and take some time off, ha!
Does she keep a scrapbook of your career?
MW: Yeah she does. All the way from when I was in the Under-10s and 11s at Rangers. She collects all the programmes too.
Do you collect any memorabilia?
MW: From the Chelsea game I got Gary Cahill’s shirt, which was good. For my 21st birthday I received a framed shirt and pictures from when we won the Ramsden’s Cup at Falkirk. That was the first proper cup I’d won. That was massive for me.
When I interviewed David Mirfin, I asked how he’d like to be remembered as a footballer for years to come. How about you?
MW: I’ve never been asked that before and to be honest it’s not something I’ve ever thought about. I’d like to think I’ll be remembered in the same sense as a Franz Beckenbauer – an aggressive, ball-playing centre-back.
Mirf said you’re one of the new breed of ball-carrying defenders and praised you highly.
MW: That’s very nice of him to say that.
What about life after football for yourself then?
MW: In primary school my ambition was to be an accountant. I always enjoyed maths at school so thought I’d be interested in that side of things. I was quite interested in going into a business and did an Open University course for three years while I was at Falkirk and for a year at Huddersfield. It was interesting to start with but it became a bit of a chore so I stopped that and haven’t started studying anything else. I think the accountancy route is one I’ll take.
The older players always say they recommend younger professionals to look as soon as possible.
MW: I’d like to do my coaching badges as well but I don’t have any great inspiration to be a coach at the minute. It’s nice to see Conor Townsend and Scott Wiseman with their businesses. Something like that would be nice. At one point, I was looking to do something involving clothing with one of my friends up in Scotland. We were close to getting something done but it all came to a head. I haven’t really looked into anything other than that yet.