Dundonian Tommy Allan has been living in Tenerife for the last near-18 years and was recently ‘home’ for a few weeks to visit his son.
At his son’s home in Fintry, Dundee, we had a chat about his uncle Jimmy and Tommy’s early life as a schoolboy footballer.
Tommy’s uncle is Jimmy Allan, the Dundee United manager of the early 40s.
“Bobby McKay stepped down and Jimmy was appointed team boss on a part-time basis, with wages of £2 a week,” opened Tommy, who was brought up in Lochee, and also stayed for many years in the Blackshade prefabs.
“Originally from Cowdenbeath, Jimmy was a former Falkirk and Dundee player, and also he ran a barber’s shop in Lochee called Maison Allan.
“Player registration, as we know it, was different in the war years as clubs looked to pick up players from other clubs who were stationed with the forces in the area.
“Regulations at the time allowed them to do so
“Along with club secretary Arthur Cram, the Mighty Midgets — Arthur Milne and Bobby Gardiner — came in from Hibs and Bristol Rovers respectively, along with former player Tommy Adamson (Forfar).
“Other signings included goalie Charlie Thomson (Exeter), Alex Miller (Bristol City), ex-Dundee Arthur Baxter (Barnsley), Jimmy Littlejohn (Cowdenbeath) and Alec Glen (Raith).
“They joined players already at the club such as Jerry Kerr, Norman Fraser and Jimmy Robertson.”
Tommy, who served his time as a baker with Beattie’s in Dundee, continued: “Even though Jimmy was signing all these players, I’ve heard through the family that at the time he was a bit miffed when Airdrie, their War Cup semi-final opponents, signed the famous Stanley Matthews,
“Although this was entirely within the guidelines laid down at the time, many looked upon this as ‘sharp practice’.
“So much so that most of the neutrals in the crowd, according to the People’s Journal report of the match, ‘roared themselves hoarse spurring on United as Airdrie found themselves friendless in Edinburgh’.
United won the semi-final 3-1, then lost 1-0 to Rangers in the Hampden final in front of an officially reported 75,000 but many observers reckoned it was nearer the 90,000 mark.
Jimmy, who was also a former Powderhall sprinter, died aged 85 when living in Lansdowne Court in Lochee, Dundee.
Tommy now has Jimmy’s runners-up medal and has offered it to the new Dundee United museum, which has its home at Tannadice.
Tommy, who also played football locally for Lawside Rangers, Butterburn Youth Club and Downfield Juniors, in addition to becoming Downfield JFC president in later years, went on: “I enjoyed playing football as a young man and played with some great players such as Charlie Dunn, Charlie Love and Dick Donnelly, among others.
“Perhaps the biggest tragedy of all was striker Jimmy Duff, who went to Harris Academy and played with me in various schoolboys and representative teams. At just 18 years of age, he died of leukemia. A very sad loss.”
Tommy’s enjoying life in the Canary Islands and regularly meets up with another Dundonian Davie Dye, who has contributed in the past to BwB.