Ian Allinson; hero of the league cup, and recipient of administrative cock-ups

Ian James Robert Allinson was born 1 October 1957 in Hitchin and played over 100 games for Arsenal between 1983 and 1987.  Of these he had 60 starts to league matches and came on 23 times as a sub in league games scoring 16 goals.

Although he only played 60 league games for Arsenal he has a significant place in the folklore of Arsenal for several reasons.

Here’s the league record year by year…

Season Starts Sub Goals Manager
1983/4 7 2 0 Neill/Howe
1984/5 20 7 10 Howe
1985/6 28 5 6 Howe/Burtenshaw
1986/7 5 9 0 Graham
Total 60 23 16

Ian started out with Colchester Utd in 1974 and played his first game on 19 April 1975.  He became Young Player of the Year at the end of that season, and became a professional in October 1975.  At the end of the 1976/7 season he scored the winning goal in the final game to gain promotion for the club.

Then in the summer of 1983 an administrative error in which his new contract was written down as being of less value than his existing contract meant that Allinson could leave on a free transfer.  Fulham made a move for him, but Arsenal (then under Terry Neill) offered him a place at the club.

It just shows – administrators are often thought to be an unnecessary nuisance, but try to save money by employing duff admin staff, and you are likely to suffer.

On 29 November 1983 Ian made his debut in a league cup game against Walsall, replacing Graham Rix, who had previously occupied that position.   Despite the rest of  the team being the regular first IX (Jennings, Robson, Sansom, O’Leary, Davis Woodcock, Nicholas etc) Arsenal lost 1-2 at home to Walsall.

Terry Neill left and in came Don Howe.  Now at this point in the story both the official Arsenal site  and Wiki speak as if George Graham came in as manager and nurtured Ian Allinson’s talent, but my reading of Arsenal’s past is different – which is why I have added the names of the managers as they came and went, in the table above, according to my notes.  I even checked with Fred Ollier – and his work agrees, and he is invariably right.

Either I have finally left the planet for good, or else Arsenal.com copied Wiki or vice versa.

Allinson played across the front line – mostly at 11, but also at 8, 9 and 10.  His most prolific spell coming in 1984/5 under Don Howe.

Anyway, starting 20 October 1984 against Sunderland Ian Allinson started 7 games and came on as a sub in two more, and scored eight goals.

But then on 12 February 1985 he was injured in a 0-3 defeat to Liverpool and lost his place.  Although he returned in April, the goal scoring touch had gone

So George Graham did not, as Arsenal.com says, and indeed as Wikipedia says, let Allinson flourish.  In fact to the contrary he only made five league starts under Graham, the rest of the time coming on as sub.  However he still had one more big time moment.

But on 4 March 1987 in the League Cup semi-final replay against Tottenham at White Hart Lane he came on again as a sub (this time for Charlie Nicholas) and on 82 minutes he went for a wander with the ball towards the Tottenham area, and then calmly scored.  In the last few moments of the game he had a shot which was deflected to David Rocastle, who scored.

But George Graham was never the sentimentalist, and Ian Allinson was not chosen for the final, which of course Arsenal won with two goals from Charlie Nicholas against Liverpool.

He was then transferred to Stoke before moving again to Luton, and then curiously the following spring made it to the League Cup Final where they played Arsenal.  But he had played for Stoke in the league cup before his transfer, and so again missed out on playing in the final.  He did however play in an FA Cup semi-final and finally a Full Members Cup final in 1988.

After 32 league games for Luton, Ian Allinson returned to Colchester United (who had presumably by then sacked their previous administrator) in December 1988 on a free transfer – just as he had left for Arsenal..

He was finally released from Colchester one year later and joined Baldock Town as player-manager.

Here’s his overall playing summary…

Years Team League games Goals
1975–1983 Colchester United 308 69
1983–1987 Arsenal 83 16
1987 Stoke City 9 0
1987–1988 Luton Town 32 3
1988–1989 Colchester United 38 10
1989–1992 Baldock Town
Total 470 98

Ian stayed at Baldock Town to 1992 and then managed Stotfold, going on to manage Barton Rovers, Harlow Town and Boreham Wood.  In fact he alternated a couple of times between Stotfold and Boreham Wood – and he is still at the latter club, as far as I know.

Arsenal have a connection with Boreham Wood, as their ground has been used by Arsenal Ladies, and Arsenal youth teams.

Boreham Wood currently play in the Conference South.  On the day that I write this (28 September 2014) they are currently top of that league after ten matches played.


You can see details of recent articles, an an index to our anniversary data on the home page of the Arsenal History Society blog.

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