George Allan

George Allan was born in Linlithgow Bridge, Scotland, on 23rd August, 1875. A centre-forward, Allan played for Leith Athletic before being transferred to Liverpool for £100 in September, 1895. He had a great season and helped Liverpool win the Second Division championship in the 1895-96 season. That year he scored 25 goals in the league plus three vital ones in the end-of-season Test matches.

The following season, in a game between Sheffield United, Allan was involved in a famous incident with William Foulke. According to the Liverpool Daily Post: "Allan charged Foulke in the goalmouth, and the big man, losing his temper, seized him by the leg and turned him upside down."

After he retired from football William Foulke gave a different version of the incident when he was interviewed by the London Evening News 18 years later: "You may have heard that there was a very great rivalry between the old Liverpool centre forward Allan and myself, that prior to one match we breathed fire and slaughter at each other, that at last he made a rush at me as I was saving a shot, and that I dropped the ball, caught him by the middle, turned him clean over in a twinkling, and stood him on his head, giving him such a shock that he never played again. Well, the story is one which might be described as a "bit of each". In reality, Allan and I were quite good friends off the field... What actually happened on the occasion referred to was that Allan (a big strong chap, mind you) once bore down on me with all his weight when I was saving. I bent forward to protect myself, and Allan, striking my shoulder, flew right over me and fell heavily. He had a shaking up, I admit, but quite the worst thing about the whole business was that the referee gave a penalty against us and it cost Sheffield United the match."

George Allan was again Liverpool's top scorer in the 1896-97 season. Allan was then sold to Celtic for £50 in May 1897. However, after winning the Scottish League title with his new club, Allan returned to Liverpool.

Allan scored another twelve goals for Liverpool before being forced to retire from professional football in July 1899 as a result of poor health.

George Allan died of tuberculosis in Liverpool on 9th October 1899. He was only 24 years old.

Primary Sources

(1) Liverpool Daily Post (29th October, 1898)

Allan charged Foulke in the goalmouth, and the big man, losing his temper, seized him by the leg and turned him upside down.

(2) Manchester Guardian (31st October, 1898)

McCowie shot in from the left, Foulke caught the ball with one hand, and as Allan dashed up, Foulke used his other hand to collar Allan's leg and upset him.

(3) Athletic News (31st October, 1898)

He (Foulke) got hold of Allan by one of his legs and laid him on the grass.

(4) William Foulke, London Evening News (6th May, 1916)

As the biggest man who ever played football, I have naturally had a few stories told about me, and I should just like to say that some of them are stories.You may have heard that there was a very great rivalry between the old Liverpool centre forward Allan and myself, that prior to one match we breathed fire and slaughter at each other, that at last he made a rush at me as I was saving a shot, and that I dropped the ball, caught him by the middle, turned him clean over in a twinkling, and stood him on his head, giving him such a shock that he never played again.

Well, the story is one which might be described as a "bit of each". In reality, Allan and I were quite good friends off the field. On it we were opponents, of course, and there's no doubt he was ready to give chaff for chaff with me. What actually happened on the occasion referred to was that Allan (a big strong chap, mind you) once bore down on me with all his weight when I was saving.

I bent forward to protect myself, and Allan, striking my shoulder, flew right over me and fell heavily. He had a shaking up, I admit, but quite the worst thing about the whole business was that the referee gave a penalty against us and it cost Sheffield United the match.

(5) Graham Phythian, Colossus: The True Story of William Foulke (2005)

One of the subplots of that titanic semi-final series was the running battle between William Foulke and George Allan, the Liverpool inside right. Allan, a high-scoring, combative Glaswegian and Scottish international, was the latest in the succession of forwards who had openly opted for the (usually unrewarding) tactic of the intimidation of Foulke. There was little of the subtlety of a Bloomer or a Meredith in this bull-at-a-gate approach, and it was usually no problem to one who had been a student at the Blackwell Colliery soccer school of hard knocks.

In the League game the previous October, however, there had occurred one of those incidents that has taken on legendary status over the years. It was at Anfield, and the Blades were winning 1-0 from a well-taken Bennett goal. In the second half Liverpool pressed, Foulke collected, and Allan ran at Foulke. What happened next probably took no more than a couple of seconds, and the Liverpool Daily Post's description was unequivocal: "Allan charged Foulke in the goahnouth, and the big man, losing his temper, seized him by the leg and turned him upside down."

From the resultant penalty McCowie scored; then a late own-goal gave Liverpool the points. Almost before the crowd had dispersed at the end of the game the tale was growing in the telling. One version depicted the incident as the culmination of a fiery vendetta between the two players, with William catching Allan by the midriff, turning him over, and planting his head in the mud, giving him such a shock that he never played again.