Whilst ultimately it was a certain Jimmy Greaves who would go down as Tottenham’s greatest ever goal scorer and striker, it was Les Allen that partnered Bobby Smith in Tottenham’s infamous double winning side of 1960-61.
Allen was born in Dagenham, and like Jimmy Greaves and a whole host of other East End boys, actually begun his professional playing career at Chelsea, where at 17, he joined the club as an amateur in 1954. At the time Allen was still an apprentice at Ford’s Dagenham works, and it was whilst playing for his local side Brigg Sports, that Chelsea spotted 16 year old Allen.
Allen went on to make 44 appearances for Chelsea, scoring 11 goals. However, it was at White Hart Lane that Allen would become a legend, and in the 1959/60 season, Bill Nicholson paid Chelsea £20,000 plus the erratic Johnny Brooks for Chelsea’s 21 year old youngster. The move was seen as slightly surprising, considering Brooks had scored 51 League and Cup goals for Spurs in 179 appearances over six years, and Allen was simply viewed as another promising Chelsea youngster. Further, at the time, there was a trend of highly rated Chelsea youth team players looking like world beaters, but ultimately coming to nothing.
Allen was described by fellow players as a shy-unassuming character, and often suffered from a loss of confidence in his own ability. However, during the 1960/61 season, Allen was on fire. He scored 22 goals in the league and played in all 42 matches, whilst also netting 4 goals in the FA Cup, forming a lethal strike force alongside Bobby Smith and Terry Dyson.
Whilst Tottenham’s success in the 1960s is associated with legendary figures such as Dave Mackay, Danny Blanchflower and Jimmy Greaves, Allen is an unsung hero at Spurs. He never recaptured his form from the 1960/61 season, and was not involved in the Tottenham side that won the FA Cup in 1961/62 or the European Cup Winners Cup winning team of 1962/63. However, in Allen’s defence, it took Tottenham’s greatest ever goal scorer, Jimmy Greaves, to replace Allen, and his heroics in the Double winning season render Allen a Tottenham legend.
Allen was a stocky centre forward, but despite his physique he had a good burst of pace, and was renowned for cutting inside his marker and using his skill to make diagonal runs through opposition defences to score. Further, Allen possessed was a grafter, and would us the ball intelligently to set up goals for his strike partner Bobby Smith by breaking to the near post and cutting the ball back.
With the signing of Alan Gilzean in December 1964, Allen lost his place in the Tottenham side permenantly, and so signed for QPR in the summer of 1965 for £21,000 and was QPR’s record purchase. Allen played in the side with Rodney Marsh, and became a fans favourite at the club, exuding a confidence that at times escaped him while he was at Tottenham.
Allen hung up his boots in 1969 with QPR, and after spells managing at QPR (1968-71) and Swindon (1972-74), Allen retired from the game. Today Allen, 72, is now a model manufacturer and with his wife splits his time between Hornchurch in Essex, and the quiet village of Souni in Cyprus.
Les Allen is also father of former Tottenham striker, and current coach Clive Allen, who in the 1986/87 season scored a record 49 goals for Spurs in one season. Allen’s other son Bradley meanwhile played for both QPR and Charlton Athletic. Allen’s two nephews Martin and (former Tottenham player) Paul Allen also played professional football, whilst Allen’s Grandson Oliver (son of Clive) carried on the tradition also, and currently plays for Stevenage Borough.
Allen may not be one of the better known names from Tottenham’s glory days in the the 1960s, but he was instrumental in the clubs double winning team in 1960/61. Allen deserves his place in the Tottenham Hotspur Hall of Fame, and is a true legend of the club.
Tottenham author Norman Giller is busy preparing his next book which will focus on the Double winning side, have your memories captured and contact him by email by clicking on the box above.
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