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West Ham United 7 - 6 A Select All-Star XI (HT 2-2)

Upton Park

Monday November 17, 1958

Malcolm Allison Testimonial ...

by Roger Hillier


The picture taken in the changing room after the match shows Malcolm with the All Stars players. For the All Stars, wearing West Ham’s second choice strip of the white shirt with claret and blue hoops, there are several recognisable faces. To the right of Malcolm is a youthful Brian Clough and to the left is 21 year old Bobby Charlton. Don Howe is next to Charlton. Over the next couple of decades the footballing achievements of these four either from playing, coaching or managing would prove to be impressive.  

ALLISON Malcolm portrait ALLISON Malcolm 02 ALLISON Malcolm 03 58_11_17 WHU v. Select XI - Malcolm Allison

For West Ham United season 1958-59 was memorable as they finished 6th in their first season back in Division One after a 26 year exile from the top tier of English football.  


The 6th place finish remained a club record high in the Football League until broken in 1985-86 when the Hammers grabbed 3rd place.


But the 1958-59 season had a more poignant moment with a testimonial match for one of its star 1950s players, Malcolm Allison.


In the previous season’s promotion campaign Allison had appeared in five of the season’s opening eight league matches before being taken ill after a game with Sheffield United on September 16, 1957.


The centre-half had contracted tuberculosis which necessitated the removal of a lung and later forced him to take early retirement.


When he announced his retirement from playing, the West Ham United board was quick to show the club’s appreciation for his seven years’ service by granting him a well deserved testimonial match.  


His benefit game against a Select All Stars XI on Monday November 17, 1958 was the fifth to be granted by the club.  

Allison’s Claret & Blue Career

A summary of Malcolm’s time with the Hammers follows, though a previously published full tribute to his claret and blue career can be viewed by clicking on the 'Picture Link' button at the end of this article.

Malcolm Allison

After transferring to West Ham from Charlton Athletic in February 1951 he made 265 first team appearances in the League and Cups netting 11 goals


London FA XI representative honour – Malcolm is one of only five West Ham players to have played in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup. In the early days of this European competition the London Football Association fielded teams comprising of players from London’s football league clubs. On March 27, 1957 Malcolm was a member of the London FA side which lost 1-0 away to Frankfurt in a group game.


Narrowly missed out on a FA Cup semi-final spot in 1956 when the Hammers lost a 6th round replay at home to Tottenham Hotspur.  On their way to the quarter final they had disposed of two First Division sides.


Played in several prestigious friendlies under the Upton Park floodlights including: the inaugural floodlit game v. Tottenham Hotspur in April 1953, AC Milan (December 1954) and the first match to be televised live from the Boleyn Ground, the friendly versus Holland Sports (March 1955).


As penalty taker he netted five out of his six spot kicks. And the one he missed, he scored from the rebound.


Club captain from 1956 until his premature retirement from playing. This included leading the team in the opening matches of the promotion winning 1957-58 season.

Crossed Hammer

West Ham United:

Keeble 3 (2 in 1st half, 73 mins) Bond [pen] (53 mins), Cantwell (70 mins), Woosnam (77 mins) & Grice (79 mins).


Select All-Star XI:

Brabrook (2 mins), Barlow (1st half), Clough (53 mins), Collins (63 mins), Malcolm [og] (75 mins), Brown [og] (80 mins)


Attendance: 21,600

West Ham United:

Ernie Gregory, John Bond, Noel Cantwell, Andy Malcolm, Ken Brown, Bill Lansdowne, Mike Grice, Phil Woosnam, Vic Keeble, John Dick, Malcolm Musgrove.


Select All-Star XI: 

Colin MacDonald (Burnley), Don Howe (WBA), Graham Shaw (Sheffield Utd) (John Lyall West Ham 46 mins), Jimmy Scoular (Newcastle), Joe Shaw (Sheffield Utd), Ray Barlow (WBA), Peter Brabrook (Chelsea), Bobby Collins (Everton), Brian Clough (Middlesborough), Bobby Charlton (Man Utd), Joe Haverty (Arsenal).


Referee: Jimmy Hill

Crossed Hammer Crossed Hammer Crossed Hammer Crossed Hammer Crossed Hammer Crossed Hammer

Malcolm was a flamboyant, charismatic and controversial character who was held in high regard by the football world. The support and respect players and fans had for the Hammers' captain was reflected in the stars of the day who turned out for the All Stars team and the turnstile clicks.


The 21,600 attendance was the club’s highest for a testimonial and remained so until the club’s 10th, Bobby Moore’s 12 years later.


Out of West Ham United’s 35 testimonial games, the attendance for Malcolm’s is the 6th highest. As to be expected, he received a standing ovation when he led the two teams out onto the Upton Park pitch.

Crossed Hammer

The All Stars XI was a very strong representative team of internationals from the Football League’s top tier. Several of the All Stars XI had been members of England’s squads for the recent 1958 World Cup held in Sweden, and England’s most recent international versus Russia.  


Their team showed three changes from that listed in the programme.  One of these was Tom Finney (Preston North End) who despite withdrawing from the match due to injury, generously sent Malcolm a cheque for five guineas.  Another late withdrawal was Stanley Matthews (Blackpool) who was replaced by Hammer to be Peter Brabrook.  


The West Ham team showed one change from that which played in the Division One matches either side of the testimonial as Bill Lansdowne replaced Andy Nelson.


The match report in the Stratford Express (November 21, 1958) described the match as “a wonderful evening’s entertainment”. Though it must have been played at a reasonably competitive tempo as full back Shaw came off injured at half-time. In his place a young John Lyall stepped in and according to the Stratford Express “held his own”.

Quote Quote


With great regret I feel that I cannot regain the high standard of fitness to do justice to my status as a professional footballer. And so the dreaded day has come when I feel that I must hang up my boots. I would like to thank you all for the fine treatment I have received in my stay at West Ham United F.C., and I hope in the 300 games I have played for the First Team I gave you something in return for the transfer fee and good treatment I received.


                                                             Yours faithfully.

In October 1958 the West Ham United Board of Directors received the following letter from the Hammers' captain:

Malcolm Allison

58_11_17 WHU v. Select Report 58_11_17 WHU v. Select Ticket

Goals galore gave West Ham's encounter with the All-Stars a pantomine touch as four shared first half goals were followed in the second half by another nine to give a final score of West Ham 7 - 6 All Stars XI.  


To add a lighter touch to the occasion, the match officials were current First Division players. Jimmy Hill (Fulham) as referee was ably supported by linesmen Frank O’Farrell (Preston North End) and Danny Blanchflower (Tottenham Hotspur).


The 21,600 attendance contributed just over £3,000 in gate receipts.  After West Ham had deducted match expenses and allowed Malcolm to buy his club house at Barkingside, he was left with £700. To put these amounts in perspective, in 1958 the average weekly wage for a man was about £12, so £700 was a tidy sum.

Goals Galore

Soon after the match Malcolm accepted the job of manager-coach to Athenian League champions, Sutton United. Once again the West Ham Board showed their generosity as they paid up his Hammers' contract to the end of June 1959.


His Gander Green Lane move would be the springboard for his coaching / management career, a journey which would take him from south London non-league football to top sides in England and Europe, and further afield to the Kuwaiti national side.


Malcolm's most notable success was achieved alongside Joe Mercer at Manchester City as they steered the club to win the First Division Championship (1967-68), FA Cup (1969) and in 1970 the League and European Cup Winners’ Cups which is well documented.

Manager/Coach to Sutton United

Crossed Hammer

Testimonial Dance

A reflection on how the game has changed and the high esteem West Ham fans held Malcolm in, is that the West Ham United Supporters Club assisted in staging a testimonial dance at East Ham town hall.  


Tickets a snip at 12 shillings and sixpence! A fitting tribute on the dance floor for an Ex-Hammer who waltzed off to a successful coaching career.

Second Testimonial – 1993

Forty five years later and Malcolm received the rare honour of a second testimonial match. This second benefit was awarded by Crystal Palace in general recognition of his 50 years service to the game as a player, coach and manager.


The Selhurst Park match was a London derby between Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday March 28, 1993.

Testimonial Dance 50 years in football Benefit & Testimonial Next Testimonial Being Prepared Frank Lampard Testimonial

Allison’s Claret & Blue Career

Please Click the Picture Link

Crossed Hammer Allison Testimonial CP v Tottenham 1993

Source: Croydon Advertiser April 1993