George Horsburgh Allan is a name many Celtic supporters will not know. I must confess that, until recently, I was one of these individuals. There is no shame in this of course, as George (also known as “Dod”) only played for the Club for a single season, back in 1897-98.
Born in Linlithgow, on the 23rd August 1875, George was to quickly find he possessed a talent for football, and at the age of fourteen, he joined junior side Broxburn Shamrock. Playing youth football for a couple of years, “Dod” honed continued to develop and hone his skills, before spells with Bo’ness and Leith Athletic sparked interest from Liverpool in 1895.
He grasped the opportunity to play in England with both hands, making his debut against Newcastle in a 5-1 away victory in the equivalent of the Second Division. The twenty year old would go onto score only a week later against Loughborough Town.
It is interesting to consider how, in the early days of football, sides such as Liverpool, who have since went onto win five European Cups/Champions Leagues, played alongside teams like Loughborough, who would become defunct only years later due to financial problems.
A successor to the old side, Loughborough Dynamo, were set up in the fifties and currently play in the eighth tier of English football. Interestingly, their away kit was recently green and white hoops in the style of Celtic.
During the rest of the 1895-96 season, Allan scored an incredible twenty five goals in twenty matches for Liverpool, helping them to achieve the equivalent of a play off spot. Scoring another three goals in these post season matches, George Allan helped propel Liverpool into the top flight of English Football. He would then go onto to make his sole appearance for Scotland, as he helped the national side defeat England 2-1 in London.
In spring 1897, with Allan’s role in the Liverpool squad fading, he was sold to Celtic. Having finished fourth in 1896-97, and having failed to retain their League Championship title, as Hearts won the league by two points from Hibs. The introduction of George Allan would soon reinvigorate the team though, as a strong, quick runner, famous for his ability to take chances would do for any team, even nowadays.
He would make his debut in a 4-1 victory over Hibs, before scoring his first two goals for the Club a few weeks later, as Celtic defeated Clyde 6-1. George would also feature in Celtic’s famous victory on Christmas day 1897, the first time they had played on this date, as they defeated Vale of Leven by an incredible scoreline of 9-1 (with Allan scoring five). In all, he would score sixteen goals for Celtic in nineteen appearances, helping them to regain their status as Champions of Scotland once more.
During the summer of 1898, Allan returned to Liverpool (now under new management), who paid £50 for the striker’s signature, and he would go onto score another eight goals for the Club.
Sadly, the player who has since been described as “a potential great” soon had his life cut short, as he contracted tuberculosis early the next year, and died back in his home town of Earlsferry on October 17th, 1899. He is buried in Linlithgow Cemetery.