Former City boss Allison dies

City legend Mike Summerbee has paid tribute to Allison as “one of

the greatest coaches there has ever been in this country”. Allison

had been living at a nursing home in Sale and had suffered from

dementia for several years. He enjoyed a long and colourful career

as a player, coach and manager, and is perhaps best remembered for

his time at City, where he initially worked under Joe Mercer and

then had two spells as manager in his own right. Summerbee, a

member of the City side which won the league title, the FA Cup, the

League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup under Mercer and

Allison after emerging from Division Two, had little doubt about

his standing in the game. He said: “It is sad to lose not only a

great character, but one of the greatest coaches there has ever

been in this country. “He was the best coach this country has ever

had, without a shadow of a doubt. He was a great coach, a very

special person and a nice man as well. “He turned that side into a

championship and cup-winning side because of the confidence he gave

them and the belief he had in himself. “He couldn’t get into

training early enough, and we trained in match situations. “We

worked so hard during the week that when we played on a Saturday,

it was our day off. He was that good. “He was a great character and

a very sociable man. We worked hard for him and we were

exceptionally fit, but we could enjoy ourselves and he went along

with that. “The club itself at that particular time came from

nothing under Joe Mercer and Malcolm and became very, very

successful. “It was a great era, a great period in the history of

the club. He was a special, lovely man.” The flamboyant Allison

will be remembered off the pitch for his trademark cigar and

fedora, and the zest for life which once saw him photographed in

the players’ bath at Crystal Palace with actress Fiona Richmond.

However, Summerbee and his former team-mates will instead recall

his talent for preparing players both physically and mentally. He

said: “I would say his major contribution was he brought the

fitness levels up to what they are today, and that was in 1965-66.

He was a forerunner for what we have today. “He lifted the fitness

levels of players, and he knew the game inside-out. He could change

a game without writing it down on a piece of paper. “But also, the

players on the field could change it without looking over to him.

“He gave us a football brain and if things weren’t going right, we

could change it ourselves because he made sure we had football

brains. “He had a wonderful character and that spread right through

the side.” Dartford-born Allison, who had a lung removed in 1957

after contracting tuberculosis, began his playing career at

Charlton, but made his name as a defender at West Ham, for whom he

made 255 appearances in two spells at Upton Park. Chairman David

Gold told the club’s official website, “The club

offers its sincere condolences to his family and friends. “He was a

great footballing man who I admired as a youngster. He was one of

those great characters in football. In a way, he was at the

beginning of big personalities in football. “I have great memories

of that time. It was a great side under Ted Fenton and it all

really started then. It was that philosophy that started this

amazing West Ham way.” Allison’s interest in the coaching side of

the game began at Upton Park, and was fostered in non-league

football and then at Plymouth Argyle before he was appointed as

assistant to Mercer in 1965. His time in sole charge of the club

either side of spells at Palace and Argyle was less successful, and

he also took charge at Middlesbrough and Bristol Rovers, as well as

Galatasaray and Sporting Lisbon abroad, before effectively retiring

from the game. Ill-health was a feature of his later years and he

had been living in a nursing home for some time when he died.

City’s players will wear black armbands for Sunday’s Premier League

trip to Blackpool, and a minute’s silence will be observed at

Eastlands ahead of next weekend’s clash with Arsenal.