Ian Allinson had one of the strangest starts to an Arsenal career but he went on to make the most of his opportunity.
The winger joined Colchester in 1974 and played eight seasons occupying almost every forward position in over 300 games for the Essex club. It has been reported the only an administrative error allowed him to become a free transfer in the summer of 1983. Terry Neill swooped but Allinson had to wait until November 29 for his debut.
Unfortunately by that time his new manager was under pressure and the opponents that night, Walsall, would pull off a shock League Cup victory that would signal Neill’s departure shortly afterwards.
New manager George Graham got the most out of Allinson. The moustachioed, bandy-legged midfielder was a willing runner and put over testing crosses from the right flank. Despite this, he was in and out of the side. A record of 30 appearances as a substitute represents just over a third of his total Arsenal career – as much as anyone in the one or two-sub era.
Still, at times, Allinson kept big-money signing Charlie Nicholas out of the side and at one point he rattled off eight goals in 11 consecutive appearances. He seemed simply happy to contribute where he could and this won him affection from the Highbury terraces.
Undoubtedly, Allinson’s greatest night came at White Hart Lane in the Littlewoods Cup Semi-Final of 1987. Again a substitute for Nicholas, his fresh legs proved decisive in a massive turnaround in this hard-fought derby. On 82 minutes he brought Arsenal level when he meandered his way into the area and spun a shot through the legs of Richard Gough to beat Ray Clemence at the near post.
Then, in injury time, his driven shot deflected to David Rocastle, who swept his way into Arsenal folklore with a dramatic winner.
The moment was tinged with sadness however. Allinson was not selected for the squad for the Final and only made a couple more substitute appearances before being freed that summer.
He moved to Luton and then ended his career back at Colchester.
After retirement, he moved into management at a non-League level taking the reigns at Harlow, Boreham Wood and Stotfold.