Who The Hell Was… James Wallace?

By Pete H

Not all players make an impact at Boro’. Some – like James Wallace – would no doubt like the chance to make an impact at all; the midfielder finding himself in an unusual situation at the Boro’. You’d even not realise he’d entered the building if you weren’t paying enough attention for a short while in early January. So, who is this elusive player that we speak of? When did it all happen? And what was it about the situation that makes it unusual?

James Wallace: Who Is He?

A midfielder by trade, Wallace started his career as a member of the Everton youth academy; starting his odyssey at the age of 13-years-old. It would’ve been around 2005 when he joined the Toffees. And, just four years later, he was making his senior debut for the club. Obviously it was still early days for him at the Premier League side, however. So, you’ll no doubt get the reason why he’d start learning the senior football ropes out on loan.

Starting in the 2010-1 campaign, Wallace went out on loan to gain valuable match experience. Bury were first, followed by Stockport County. Then, during the first half of the 2011-2 season, he made his way to Shrewsbury Town for a bit. When he wasn’t out on loan, he was playing at Everton for the reserves team; becoming a regular fixture in said team. We’d also point out at this stage that Wallace had England U19 and U20 caps to his name.

James Wallace had earned U19 and U20 caps for England in the early part of his career
Photo: Empics

When did he sign and who from?

As the world dragged itself into the 2012, Wallace’s stock as an up-and-coming baller looked in good nick. Indeed, Shrews boss Graham Turner had tried to loan him in on three different occasions before ultimately succeeding; injuries, international duty, and David Moyes’ desire to put him in the Toffees first team getting in the way. He moved to the Shrews in November 2011 and was still there in early January 2012.

At that point, the Shrews did want to keep hold of him; this being despite the player getting limited game time at the Meadow. It didn’t help that he was sent off on debut for a dreadful tackle on ex-Boro’ man Jon Nurse. Wallace ended up back at Everton to get treatment for an injury all the same – only for Boro’ to move in four days later (9 January) and sign him on an initial one-month loan. We were primed to see what this young lad had to offer.

Did he play often?

No.

He didn’t play at all.

As we mentioned, Wallace encountered an unusual situation after joining us. The same day that he signed, we gave Preston North End permission to speak with gaffer Graham Westley. By the end of the week, GW was on his way north and we were looking for a new boss. For a trip to Rochdale up next, Robbo took the reins on a caretaker basis – and any plans to hand Wallace a debut were scuppered.

Indeed, the loan deal bringing the midfielder south was binned off at the start of that next week. Wallace was heading back to Goodison Park with no chance to say boo to a goose.

Where is James Wallace now?

James Wallace in action against us for Tranmere Rovers
Photo: Liverpool Echo/David Rawcliffe/Propaganda

Just three days later, things worked out OK for the midfielder; Tranmere Rovers moving in to sign him on loan. His time there was such a success that it’d be made permanent at the end of the 2011-2 campaign. After spending two years there, he signed for Sheffield United – but his time there was hampered by injury. As his three-year deal with the Blades was reaching its halfway point in early 2016, the player returned to Shrewsbury Town on loan.

He’d go back to another former club – Tranmere Rovers – on loan in November 2016, before making the move permanent once the transfer window opened in January 2017. Wallace got an 18-month contract at Prenton Park, but it wasn’t renewed once it ended in summer 2018. Fleetwood Town came in for him at that point, signing him on a short-term deal. At the end of his one season there, he moved off the pitch and upstairs to become a scout for them.

In 2022, Wallace joined Preston North End as their chief scout.

JAMES WALLACE0 (0) appearances, 0 goals (2012)

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