My interview with former Spurs defender Don McAllister:
I had the privilege of being able to interview legendary former Spurs player Don McAllister. The former defender who kindly agreed to doing an interview with me, was an important figure at the lilywhites following his transfer from Bolton Wanderers in 1975. During a six year spell at the club Don made over 200 appearances for Spurs and enjoyed some memorable times (including an FA Cup win) in a Spurs side that was under going transition. Don is still remembered fondly by the Spurs faithful, especially by those that supported Spurs during the 1970’s.
What was your time at Spurs like?
Don: I had a great time at Spurs, looking back it’s like another world moving to London playing with many of your hero’s at the top end of the game, as a kid from the back streets of Manchester dreaming of winning the FA Cup was only a dream and playing for a team like Spurs more than 200 games.
An integral part of Bolton Wanderers team during the early 1970’s, what was it like adjusting to life at Spurs and leaving the trotters? A team who you had represented so well.
Don: My time at Bolton was the foundation of my future, Bolton were financially struggling and decided to stick with there youth policy. I was introduced into the 1st team when I was 16 at LB playing behind Gordon Taylor the current head of the PFA. Bolton also had some ageing top players Rodger Hunt, Peter Thompson ex Liverpool, Tony Dunne Man Utd and Charlie Hurley. Plus some top players from Bolton who we would have some difficult games against, Paul Jones and I were the 2 central defenders who got Bolton out of the 3rd division and later Paul and Sam Allardyce did the same in the first division with us. Sam was my replacement when I moved to Spurs. Paul and I were highly regarded as a central defensive pair, winning youth trophy’s with local teams like Man Utd/City, Everton, Liverpool we had a great reputation. When I arrived at Spurs I was to partner with Mike England, with Cyril Knowles and Joe Kinnear as full backs. Unfortunately for me they all left at the end of the season and I had to work out a way of staying in the first team with more new players coming into the club I never found a playing partner like Paul jones and therefore I did not get to play in my best role.
What was your greatest memory from your time at the Lilywhites?
Don: Greatest time was the fight back to division one and of course the
FA cup win.
Who were your greatest influences at the club?
Don: Martin Chivers Stevie P, Glen, Jonny Pratt, Ralph Coates and Pat J.
During your six year spell with Spurs, you must have endured many highs and lows, suffering relegation to the second tier and winning the FA Cup happening all in that time. You played with some of the finest talents in world football during that time, what was it like to be a part of that Spurs team during those eventful 6 years?
Don: Yes my time was eventful I joined when the team was due for big changes, the successful team full of star players was reaching the end so with a new manager and many new players the new Spurs was being formed and yes it was a difficult time leading the first season I was signed at the last part of the year and in the last game against Leeds we avoided relegation but not for long.
The relegation year I did not play much as I had knee surgery and as part of my recovery I was sent to play in USA. But I came back to the club in division 2.
It took me a bit of time to get back into the team but I played a role in the rise back to division 1 and scored some vital goals. On promotion we then had some money to spend and on came Ossie and Ricky, the rest is history. It was a difficult time as you did not know what was coming next, during all of the drama I managed to play more than 200 games of which I am proud off.
Growing up as a kid in Lancashire, who was your footballing hero during your childhood?
Don: My heroes were many as it was the days of the World Cup winning team, I was 13, throughout my time I played with many of the players who were my heroes. I also played against Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Eusebio, George Best and I played with Jimmy Greaves in a testimonial game and sat next to him in the dressing room.
What do you remember about your Spurs debut?
Don: My debut was away against Coventry I remember it was 1-1 and I got booked on a wet muddy day.
You were a member of the famous FA cup run of 1980-81, what were your memories of that road to Wembley?
Don: The road to Wembley was long and hard but it was always my dream to win the FA Cup. It was also my first visit to Wembley so it was special times.
Who was the greatest player that you ever played with during your career?
Don: I have mentioned some of the special players I came across during my career for one off games but to play with week after week there are two players that stand out for me, Steve P and Glen H. To play 850 games at Spurs is just unbelievable the stress and strain on the body to play so many games at the top level and avoid injury, yet keep up a high level of performance deserves the highest awards for me. Glen Hoddle had the most talent I have ever seen in a player, he made all other players look average. Why the English team was not built around him many of us cannot understand.
Do you still follow/support Spurs’ progress?
Don: Yes I still follow Spurs and am in contact with the boys I spent time with, when they come to Australia and when they play golf for the legends team. When I am in the UK and make appearances for the club like requested last year, I went to NZ for the supporters club. I also still get mail/email and just last week had a pair of football boots sent to me for autographs.
Apart from your time at Spurs and Bolton, you had a fascinating career. Including spells in the US and in Portugal where you played for Vitoria Setubal. If you had to name your greatest achievement from your playing career, what would it be?
Don: I did not play in Portugal Or sign for them. Regarding Vitoria Setubal (which states on Wikipedia that Don played for them). I don’t see my career as any one thing. When I was young I wanted to be a football player I did that for more than 15 years. At Bolton the club went to division 3 so in came the young boys like me we got promoted I played 45 out of 46 games, I played a major role I was bought by a struggling Spurs team, relegation 1st year back to division 1. I played a major role, Secured our place in division 1 and went on to win the cup, again I played my role in the team. So as the years rolled on different challenges appeared and I played a significant role in the success at the clubs where I played, and played a lot of games during my career. I believe I passed the test of a young 13 year old dreamer.