Day 127 + 23

Malcolm Allison

I was saddened today to learn of the death of Malcolm Allison. He was one of the real characters of the game and a man with a unique personality.

This lead me to think of the demise of the true “characters” of the game and how this demise was visible on and off the pitch. I can really only speak for the past forty years but I wonder what place the likes of Nobby Stiles, Jack Charlton, George Best, Frank Worthington, Joe Jordan, Rodney Marsh, Stan Bowles, Grobbelaar and more latterly Cantona, Gascoigne and Robbie Fowler would have in Football 2010.

Whether it was Grobbelaar’s famous spaghetti legs or Best’s audacious dribbling runs, these players were DIFFERENT. These players were always going to be causing their managers and directors heart attacks. Whether it was because they ignored team discipline on or off the field, enjoyed a “special” lifestyle or quite simply could be world beaters or absolutely disinterested, all of these players could make their own fans adore them or pull their hair out. They raised emotions wherever they went and needed a certain type of team/manager to control them. Most of them would probably have earned more caps and honours if they had “just” been ordinary players but none of these men wanted anything other than to be “special”. Love them or loathe them ……these guys were special!!

So, back to Malcolm Allison and his famous fedora (and cigars). He is most often associated with the famous Manchester City side of the 60s and 70s….and what a team that was. This was a side that was crammed with household names – Bell, Lee, Summerbee, Corrigan, Coleman and Book. Yes, another group of characters! Allison was the coach who brought out the best in the players skilfully being assembled by Joe Mercer. He did a great job and despite some unpleasantness at the end, he is still revered by many Man City fans. What is often forgotten is that Allison managed/coached over a dozen other teams teams and whilst his days at Palace and Man City will be what he is most famous for, he also managed in Kuwait, Canada, Turkey and Portugal with varying levels of success…. but never far from controversy.

Malcolm Allison September 5 1927 – October 14 2010 R.I.P

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