In 'Defining Moments', former Arsenal stars select the situations that defined their career with the Gunners.
Ian Allinson is next to recall his favourite memories.
TURNING DOWN FULHAM
In 1983, I’d been at Colchester United for 10 years man and boy when Fulham came in for me. It was a good move and good opportunity for me.
I had scored around 50 goals in the past couple of seasons for United and this was the next step. Chelsea had been interested too, but Fulham was my decision. Then I got a call. It was Terry Neill from Arsenal. I thought it was a wind up at first, but when I learned it wasn’t, well... I wasn’t signing for Fulham, put it that way.
My family were Arsenal and I was Arsenal. In fact, my parents – Ken and Doreen – had grown up in Islington, around Liverpool Road and Finsbury Park, before moving out to Hertfordshire in the mid 1950s. I was born in Hitchin New Town in 1957. Dad had moved out of London to work as an installation engineer.
It’s funny, I remember us driving back to London as a kid and it was all B roads. No M25 in those days. Anyhow, I went to meet Terry and Ken Friar at Arsenal and signed as quickly as I could. What a dream move for me. It’s funny, but I just stalled on signing for Fulham. Dad died in 1979 and I always wonder if he knew Arsenal would come in for me. I don’t know, but something was stopping me signing for Fulham, God knows what.
Dad would have been proud.
MILK TURNS SOUR, BUT NOT FOR ME
Walsall at home in 1983 is a game remembered for all the wrong reasons.
We lost to them in the Milk Cup – 50 years after they had famously beaten us in the FA Cup – and it very quickly lead to the demise of manager Terry Neill.
Personally, I will always remember the game for the simple reason it was my Arsenal debut. I had been playing in the Football Combination side and that season they were brilliant. I think we may have even won the Combination that season.
I remember playing with Alan Sunderland in that side. I’d been playing well and was confident, so when Graham Rix was injured I felt ready to play at the same Highbury I had been to back in 1968 – for my first game against Blackpool. I think we played a youth team game beforehand, winning 2-0, and then the first team played straight after. Funny what you remember though.
My main recollection of the game is watching the Met Police Band on the pitch at half time! Fifteen years after watching my first game at Highbury, I was on that same pitch in red and white. I actually thought I played well despite the result! There was a lot of protests after the game and we lost again shortly after – to West Brom I think – and although things had not been going well for the team I don’t have particularly bad memories because I was new to the club.
It is actually strange when you think we had the likes of Pat Jennings, Kenny Sansom, Paul Davis, Charlie Nicholas, Tony Woodcock ... there was a hell of a lot of talent there at the time. Why it had been going so badly, I do not know.
Don Howe came in for Terry and he was absolutely brilliant for me. He played me, for a start, and believed in me. I played a fair few games for him. I remember my debut goal very well – Charlie Nicholas put a sweet ball into the back post and I headed it in.
Lovely. I was always going to remember a headed goal because I barely scored any headers. It was against Sunderland in the 1984/85 season and I also remember going down the other end and conceding a penalty just a couple of minutes later. Fortunately for me we won the game and I remember trotting off the pitch all happy with myself. Then Don appeared and blasted me with both barrels! “You nearly cost us the game Allinson!” Always kept you on your toes, did Don.
WHITE HART LANE ‘87
We all know the story. Spurs beat us 1-0 in the first leg of the Littlewoods Cup semi final at Highbury. We won the second leg 2-1 and took it to a replay at the Lane the following Wednesday. Clive Allen had given them the lead and then Charlie Nicholas was injured, so I came off the bench. It was actually the first season of two substitutes. I equalised and I will never forget it or, indeed, the final few minutes of that night.
Paul Davis threaded a pass through and I got possession. I was really up for hammering it but the pitch was poor and I couldn’t get the ball in the right position. Instead I just kind of swivelled, turned and shot – well, I got a toe to it – and despite Richard Gough catching my arm I just did enough to get the shot away and inside Ray Clemence’s post. It was one hell of a feeling.
Spurs, fans of a certain age will remember, were gone. Martin Hayes nearly scored before David Rocastle ran through to make it 2-1 at the end of the game. It was an amazing few minutes of football to play in –