Les Allen was the last piece of Nicholson’s jigsaw as he put together his double side. Chelsea had approached Tottenham and wanted to sign our Johnny Brooks. Nicholson negotiated that Allen came to us as part of the deal. Allen at that time was playing in their reserve side.
Letting Brooks an England international go and replacing him with a reserve player surprised a number of fans. Prior to his arrival at White Hart Lane Les had played in the semi final of the amateur cup as a 16 year old, before joining Chelsea, where he scored 11 times in 44 games.
He made his Spurs debut in December 1959 at home to Newcastle, a 4-0 win. He then scored twice in his second game as we won 4-2 at Leeds. Then in the February he managed five in the FA Cup replay with Crewe in our record 13-2 win.
He actually scored eight in four Cup games that season and finished with seven in fifteen league games. He had quickly built a good understanding with Bobby Smith and fitted into the team, playing at inside left, that would claim the Double the following season.
In the Double season he was an ever present and in 42 games he scored 23 league goals, including a right footed shot in the game that clinched the title, to add to his four goals in the FA Cup run.
Many thought that when Jimmy Greaves was signed that following winter Allen would be the one that would make way but his hard work ensured he competed with Smith to partner the newcomer up front.
Bill Nicholson talking about Allen said ‘One of the saddest things was that I had to replace him two years later when Jimmy Greaves became available. I felt sorry for him he had done nothing to deserve being replaced but a football manager cannot afford to be sentiment’.
Then in November 1962 he was chosen to play for the Football League in the game with their Italian counterparts. He appeared in a total 137 games for Spurs and scored 61 goals, including one in European competition.
It was Alan Gilzean’s arrival in December 1964 that meant that he was surplus to requirements and he moved to QPR. Where he helped the side from the third to first division and won the League Cup in the process. In December 1968 he became the West London side’s manager where he stayed until 1971. He then moved to the non league but returned to management to take charge at Swindon and then later worked in Greece.
Allen has been described a dependable player, but not spectacle, strong on the ball with excellent control who was always available to help out in defence. If he had a fault it is said he lacked confidence.
Bill Nicholson wrote about him, ‘he was a vastly under rated player, good at sniffing out goal scoring positions and was a sound finisher. His only weakness was that he was on the slow side.’
Les had a last gift for Tottenham, his son (Clive) who had played for several London clubs before he joined us and became a record scoring forward and international player. His other son Bradley works as a coach at the clubs academy.
Les Allen, is an inductee in the Tottenham Hall of Fame and legend of the Lane.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
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