Malcolm Allison

Flamboyant manager with the fedora hat

Player Biography
Full name: Malcolm Alexander Allison
Date of birth: September 5, 1927
Date of death: October 15, 2010
Clubs played for: Charlton, West Ham
Clubs managed: Plymouth, Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Galatasaray, Manchester City, Sporting Lisbon, Middlesbrough, Vitoria Setubal, Bristol Rovers
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Malcolm-Allison-tribute graphic MP_0070702.jpg Malcolm Allison and Joe Mercer Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison, 1968 Joe Mercer, Malcolm Allison and Tony Book, 1968 Manchester City's Colin Bell and Burnley's Colin Waldron launch their new restaurant and invite both City and United managers Sir Matt Busby, Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison to share a glass of champagne, 1969 Colin Bell (right) with Manchester City assistant manager Malcolm Allison (centre) and Glyn Pardoe (left) relaxing in a sauna, February 1969 Manchester-City-Malcolm-Allison cropped Malcolm Allison, 1969 Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison, 1969 MP_1065103.jpg MP_0070718.jpg Malcolm Allison, 1970 Manchester City, 1970 Manchester City, 1970 Tony Book and Malcolm Allison, 1970 Malcolm Allison, 1970 Malcolm Allison, 1970 Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison, 1971 Malcolm Allison MP_0039714.jpg MP_0070723.jpg Ray Bloye Football Malcolm Allison MP_0039573.jpg Football Crystal Palace MP_1106495.jpg Malcolm Allison MP_0070715.jpg 1553317.jpg 1553376.jpg
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Club Career

Malcolm Allison began his career as a player with Charlton after the Second World War and he spent six years there before moving on to West Ham in 1951. A strong and reliable centre-half, he was a regular in the Hammers team for the next six seasons, before an unfortunate injury cut short his career.

He had fallen ill after a game against Sheffield United in September 1957 and, after being diagnosed with tuberculosis, he had to have a lung removed and never played professionally again.

Club Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1945-51 Charlton 2 0
1951-57 West Ham 238 10

Managerial Career

The most flamboyant manager in Manchester City’s history, Allison was nothing if not a bundle of contradictions and claimed he was always a City fan after listening to the Blues get beaten by Everton in the FA Cup Final of 1933.

He was a dedicated student of the game and a real football thinker, yet could often be heard making outlandish claims for the most average of footballers. He took his work extremely seriously, yet often seemed like a cartoon figure with his Fedoras, bottles of champagne and dalliances with sexy stars. What can’t be denied, however, is that Allison’s partnership with Joe Mercer produced the most successful and exciting period in City’s history.

Once he had been forced to hang up his boots, Allison was determined to make it as a coach and, after working at West Ham, took over as manager of non-league Bath City in 1963. After moving to Plymouth he left for Manchester City in 1965 as assistant manager to Mercer and helped craft a superb side that swept all before it between 1968 and 1970. Allison had no truck with City’s footballing neighbours. “I loathed the bumptious, patronising tones of their players, their hangers-on and many of their supporters,” he said. “It became a challenge to me when I drove past city parks and saw 90 per cent of the kids wearing red shirts.”

By 1972 Allison had decided that he wanted to be top dog but, with City undergoing massive internal political upheaval, he ended up leaving for Crystal Palace in 1973.

After a topsy-turvy time at Palace and short stints at Galatasaray in Turkey and back at Plymouth, Allison came back to City as manager in 1979. It was an unmitigated disaster and he left for Palace again in 1980. Stints with a number of other clubs never saw Allison scale those giddy City heights again, apart from a golden period out of the British spotlight where he won the Portuguese league and cup with Sporting Lisbon.

Allison’s last job was at Bristol Rovers in the early '90s, but since then his health has declined and he is now in a care home suffering from Alzheimer’s. It’s a sad end for one of football’s greatest entertainers.

Key Games

Charlton 2-3 Manchester City (Second Division, May 13, 1966)

With promotion already achieved following a 1-0 win at Rotherham, City travelled to Charlton knowing that victory would assure them of the Second Division title. With City leading 3-0, it all looked done and dusted but, in typically inconsistent style, they let Charlton get back to 3-2 before the 90 minutes were up. No matter. Mercer and Allison had won their first silverware with City.

Newcastle 3-4 Manchester City (First Division, May 11, 1968)

Mercer and Allison’s ability to mould a quality team so quickly at City was hugely impressive. Just two years after winning the Second Division title, City were up on Tyneside looking to beat Newcastle to secure the First Division championship. A 4-3 victory sent the trophy back down to Manchester, with Allison jumping off the bus to share his joy with City supporters along the way!

Gornik Zabrze 1-2 Manchester City (European Cup-Winners’ Cup, April 29, 1970)

Having conquered domestic football, Mercer and Allison wanted to prove they had the technical nous to compete with Europe’s elite. This they did on a rain-lashed night in Vienna as City swept aside the Poles of Gornik Zabrze by two goals to one, proving that City’s meteoric rise had taken them to the very summit of the European game.

Did You Know...?

When Big Mal attended a banquet in honour of Manchester United’s 1967 Championship victory, United’s Paddy Crerand bet Allison £10 that City would never again attract crowds of 30,000. Two months into the following season Crerand was forced to pay up.

While managing Crystal Palace in 1976 Big Mal earned himself an FA disrepute charge after being photographed naked with porno actress Fiona Richmond in the club’s communal bath!

Among Big Mal's other women were Roger Moore's ex-wife Dorothy Squires, 1950s movie legend Jane Russell, Profumo scandal hooker Christine Keeler and a Playboy Club employee called Serena Williams!

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From the back pages

Charlton Athletic 2-3 Manchester City Published: May 14, 1966

Second Division match report

Newcastle 3-4 Manchester City Published: May 13, 1968

First Division match report

Leeds KO - City OK Published: April 30, 1970

City triumph in Europe back page

Gornik Zabrze 1-2 Manchester City Published: April 30, 1970

European Cup-Winners’ Cup final match report

Arsenal 3-2 Middlesbrough Published: March 1, 1983

FA Cup fifth round match report

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