MARTIN ALLEN is riveting company — a staunch family man with great values, a quite brilliant raconteur with a vast football knowledge.
‘Mad Dog’ also happens to be one of the humblest of guys – here is a man who spends three days a week helping old ladies with their gardens.
GettyMartin Allen has swapped management for helping old ladies and scooter rides[/caption]
He said: “I get so much satisfaction making their gardens neat and tidy. I also do a bit of shopping for them. They sometimes ask me, ‘Did you used to be a footballer?’ and it’s nice to tell them I was.
“I’ve also been doing a bit of moving properties too from the north-ish to the south. But I do it all myself, driving the lorries and vans.”
Allen may no longer be a boss or player but he is still heavily involved in the game he loves.
He explained: “I’m extremely proud to be a West Ham ambassador and part of the matchday experience at the London Stadium, along with other former players.
“I also work for the Premier League as a referee match assessor. I will watch a game two or three times a month and write a report giving my assessment.
“At Loughborough University this week I heard about different rules and regulations, to ensure everyone gets a better understanding and education relating to supporting referees.
“As a player I never stopped moaning at referees but my opinion about the match officials has completely changed.
“Five or six top senior refs have retired over the last couple of seasons and all of them are now behind the scenes helping the new officials step up from lower leagues.
“These refs are just like you and me, lovely people. They are judged and scrutinised to the nth degree today with the decisions and frame-by-frame TV coverage.
“They accept they make mistakes as we all do. But, for me, so often the criticism crosses the line.
I get so much satisfaction making their gardens neat and tidy. I also do a bit of shopping for them. They sometimes ask me, ‘Did you used to be a footballer?’ and it’s nice to tell them I was.
“I believe there needs to be tighter controls on the technical area and player behaviour with the officials.”
As a tough midfielder, Allen played more than 400 games for four clubs in his career and won two England Under-21 caps.
He comes from an outstanding football family pedigree involving his dad Dennis, uncle Les and cousins Paul, Bradley and Clive. His son Charlie, nephew Harry Grant and brother Freddie have all played.
He spent 15 years as a manager, including a record FIVE spells at Barnet. It has been quite a journey.
Allen highlights leading Gillingham (2012-13) and Barnet (2014-15) to the Championship as his two standout moments in 34 years as a player and a manager.
He said: “It’s great to be promoted, but to do it as champions — to be the best in your field — is something very special to me.”
It was an ambition he was hoping to achieve for a third time.
However, after six years since his last job as a manager at Chesterfield, he is now enjoying life far too much in and out of the game to even think about returning to the technical area.
Getty‘Mad Dog’ became a cult hero during his time as a player with West Ham[/caption]
Allen talks refreshingly about how the structure of a game has changed from the one he first played.
He said: “It was a standard 4-4-2, the keeper kicked the ball long, you had one big centre-half and another who was a bit quicker next to him.
“You had two regimented full-backs and two midfielders who made the most passes in a game, always going forward.
“Up front there was a 6ft 4in centre- forward and a nippy fox-in-the-box who would work off him. Then you had two wingers who would have great battles with the opposition full-backs.
“What we now have is a different concept. Your centre-backs now make the majority of passes. Years ago they were told to get rid of it, hoof it up field or into the stands.
“Keepers are playing out from the back and often teams don’t play with a No 9. There are inverted full-backs.
“It stems from how the league has evolved from the start of the Premier League in 1992-93 and the influx of European and South American coaches and players.
“The Premier League is the best in the world but the way we watch football today is a sea change from what we witnessed 50 years ago.”
Martin Allen’s Footballing Family
Dennis Allen, dad – Striker for Charlton, Reading, Bournemouth, Oostende and Cheltenham
Les Allen, uncle – Striker for Chelsea, Tottenham and QPR, later managed QPR and Swindon
Paul Allen, cousin – Ex-England under-21 midfielder, won the FA Cup with Tottenham and played for West Ham, Southampton, Swindon, Bristol City and Millwall
Bradley Allen, cousin – Ex-England under-21 striker, had spells with QPR, Charlton, Peterborough and Bristol Rovers
Clive Allen, cousin – Ex-England striker, played for likes of QPR, Tottenham, Bordeaux and Manchester City, First Division top scorer in 86/87 with 33 goals
Charlie Allen, son – Midfielder for Dagenham & Redbridge, Notts County and Gillingham, free agent after leaving Cray Wanderers in 2022
Harry Grant, nephew – Midfielder for non-league Ascot United, won League Two with Gillingham under Allen in 2013
Freddie Grant, nephew – Left-back at non-league Chippenham, Oxford academy graduate
It is ironic that Allen was christened ‘Mad Dog’ by ex-team-mate Ian Bishop during his playing career.
These days there is only one dog in Allen’s life — Dennis, who goes everywhere with him and is the most laid-back black Labrador you could ever wish to meet.
He said: “I named him after my dad. He’s a wonderful mate. I actually bought him a scooter for Christmas. We get strange looks when we go out for walks!
“It did make me smile when I met a West Ham fan recently who actually asked me about Dennis and his scooter.”
Allen hosted a West Ham Way event on Sunday, in front of a sell-out audience just a goal-kick away from the London Stadium, with Hammers legends Alan Devonshire and Julian Dicks as his guests.
For those Irons fans present before the 6-0 defeat by Arsenal, it surely will have been the highlight of their day.