Scotland fans may recoil at the thought of Englishman Sam Allardyce managing the national team – but his heritage might make them feel better about it.
The 62-year-old’s surname, and more than 40 variants of it, has its roots in the old Barony of Allardice from Kincardineshire, on the north-east coast of Scotland.
The Allardice clan’s ancestral home is Allardice Castle near Inverbervie, built in the 17th century.
Allardyce wrote in his autobiography that both his parents were from Scotland, with his father being born in Aberlour, and there is certainly a lot of history attached to the name.
A progenitor of the Allardice name is said to have slain a wild boar which attacked the Earl of Huntington in 1198 as he returned to shore from the Third Crusade, having been shipwrecked nearby.
The earl’s brother, King William the Lion, is said to have confirmed the local lands of Alrethes to the man as a reward for saving his sibling, giving birth to the name. The heroic act is also said to have earned the Allardice clan its motto: ‘In Defence of the Distressed’.
“Having never met the man personally, it appears that he does live up to the family motto,” Jim Allerdice, the president of the Allardice Family Association, told Press Association Sport in the summer of 2016, after Allardyce had landed the England job.
“It seems that he has taken distressed football teams and made them whole again time and time again. So, now, it would appear, he is finally getting the recognition he deserves for his many years grinding it out on the field. More power to you, Sam!”
Asked if there were any defining ‘Allardice’ qualities, he said: “The one thing I have seen consistently is integrity. Everyone I have met that is an Allardice, they have a lot of integrity I would say.”
‘Big Sam’, as he is known, cuts an imposing figure on the touchline but it is doubtful he has ever wrestled a bull, carried a sack of flour in his teeth or uprooted a tree with his bare hands.
They are all feats associated with another of his forebears, Captain Robert Barclay Allardice, who was inducted to the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 for his prodigious walking achievements.
Most famously, Captain Barclay, nicknamed ‘The Celebrated Pedestrian’, walked 1,000 miles in 1,000 consecutive hours in 1809 at Newmarket. He was required to walk a mile an hour, every hour, for 42 days and nights.
He never wore the clothing of an athlete, with historian JK Gillon recording that he preferred “a top hat, cravat, warm woollen suit, lambswool socks and thick-soled shoes”.
He also served as a sponsor and trainer for Tom Cribb, a world bare-knuckle boxing champion of the early 19th century.