Malcolm Allison, otherwise known as ‘Big Mal’ has sadly passed away, aged 83.
Big Mal will forever be remembered by City fans as Joe Mercer’s right hand man during City’s glory days of the late sixties and early seventies as the blues went from the second division to first division champions, before going on to lift the FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners Cup in a golden era for the club.
Allison had left Plymouth Argyle when, in 1965, he was contacted by Mercer, who asked Allison to join him at Maine Road. “I phoned an extrovert, ebullient but brilliant coach called Malcolm Allison,” Mercer said at the time. “It took me two days to find him but he said he would join me.”*
Allison joined the blues and the rest was history as the two set the blues on a path to promotion from the second division back to the top flight and ultimately, the First Division title, won in dramatic fashion at Newcastle on the final day of the season, just three years after the duo arrived at the club.
A year later, City beat Leicester City at Wembley to lift the FA Cup and the following season saw the blues win both the League and European Cup Winners Cup. The partnership came to an end in June 1972, when Mercer left to become general manager at Coventry.
After years of waiting, and even turning down the opportunity to manage Juventus, Allison finally took the reigns at Maine Road but the coach only lasted one season and resigned in March 1973. Allison returned to the club in 1979 but his stay was short lived and he lasted less than a year.
Allison played centre half and spent six years at Charlton Athletic but only made two appearances before he moved to West Ham, where he played over 230 times for the Hammers. Other than City, his managerial career has included managing Plymouth and Crystal Palace twice, Galatasaray and the Kuwaiti national side, before ending his managerial career with Bristol City in 1993.
But the fedora hat wearing, cigar smoking man will always be remembered for his time at Maine Road. Along with Joe Mercer, Allison brought the best out of the blues in an era that will never be forgotten. Thanks for those times Big Mal. You too, will never be forgotten.
Malcolm Allison. 1927-2010. Rest in Peace.
* = Quote taken from Manchester City – The Mercer-Allison Years by Ian Penney