Initially Ally McLeod was signed as a player but he soon became involved in coaching then management. As a player he had previously been a winger with Third Lanark, St.Mirren, Blackburn Rovers, Hibs and then back to Third Lanark.
Ally began his managerial career with Ayr United on 5th May 1966 and MacLeod taking over from Tom McCreath who had resigned after having led Ayr to promotion as Champions of the Second Division in season 1965/66. His first signing was Alex ‘Dixie’ Ingram a footballing legend at Ayr and at the same time Willie Wallace became Ayr United’s long serving trainer. The first season in charge was a learning curve and contained what is still United’s longest run of consecutive games without a win at 28 to be precise.
The only win of the season coming on 8th April 1967 as a 1-0 win at home to St Johnstone.
Relegation was not to be the norm under MacLeod and his love of attacking football would pay dividends. A 5th place in Division 2 followed and was the platform to what followed. On 23rd November 1968 a 2-0 win over Stranraer was the start of an 11 consecutive win run in the league and the lost points meant that Ayr finished 2nd in the league - but promotion nevertheless and was the start of a 9 season stay in the top flight. United’s first match in the top flight was against Hibs which they won 3-0. Next up was Rangers and Ally MacLeod was his usual optimistic and infectious self in forecasting a win. In front of Somerset parks record attendence of 25,225 The Honest Men did indeed beat the mighty Rangers by 2-1.
Ayr United also found themselves in the League Cup semi-final achieving a 3-3 draw against Celtic, but just missing out by 2-1 in the replay. 11,000 spectators watched Ayr’s final home match of the season against Hearts for a 0-0 draw for a 14th placing. A similar finish was achieved the following season and a sensational 12th was achieved in season 1971/72.
In 1972/73, MacLeod lead Ayr United to a 6th place finish in Division 1, taking the club to within a point of qualification for European football and the clubs highest position since 1919 the first manager of the club to reach the semi-final of the Scottish Cup, but lost 2-0 at Hampden Park to Rangers. It also saw MacLeod named as the town's ''Citizen of the Year". Success continued and 7th place obtained in 1973/74
The following season the addition of third division meant that the top flight went from 18 teams to 10. Neverthless Ally left to take up the managers position at Aberdeen in November 1975.
he Messiah was back! Or so the United faithful thought. Ally MacLeod returned to Ayr after the club lured him from his post at Scotland boss following the disastrous 1978 World Cup in Argentina.
However this reign only lasted 74 days before he left to take up the job at Motherwell. The short evening bulletins relayed the shock news that he agreed to move to the Lanarkshire side.
Even this short stint at the club proved to be successful as under his stewardship United charged up the First Division table, moving from 11th to 3rd.
Another successful spell for Mr Ayr United. It was a job Ally couldn’t refuse despite the best attempts of the Airdrie directors to keep him at Broomfield. Taking up the position Friday 1st November occurred just too close to United’s home match with Partick Thistle which Ayr lost by 3-1. Ally quickly stated after the defeat that there was a lot of work to be done. He wasn't wrong and relegation ensued.
Despite suffering relegation in his first season in charge - again but began to rebuild in season 1986/87 and with one match to go Ayr only needed one point for promotion. That match was at home to Stirling Albion but a 3-2 defeat was suffered giving Ayr a fourth place finish.
He mustered a team that won the Second Division Championship in 1987/88 in a canter. Once again the local population got behind him and the club and that season over 11,000 fans crammed back into Somerset for a Cup replay against Dunfermline. Sadly they lost the day but again won many friends. Ally was as influential as ever. When the Daily Record offered a crate of champagne for the first team to score 100 goals Ayr made the push and just beat Rangers to the prize. Ally offered to match it if they team scored 150 goals.
The following season saw Ayr competed well in Division 1 with a few great moments such as a 4-1 win over Kilmarnock on 3rd January. Nevertheless the smaller league made it more difficult to survive and it was only on the penultimate fixture did Ayr secure their status, finishing 11th. The following season saw them finish one place higher to secure First division status. In December 1990 Ally was informed that his contract was not to be renewed and he left the club.
Ally may be remembered for his controversial intervention in the David Murray takeover battle at Ayr after the 1987/88 season when he said that if Murray took over he would leave. This seemed to sway the shareholders.
In his three terms of management at Ayr United totalledhe completedÂ close to fifteen years during which time he recorded 214 league wins. Ally's enthusiasm transformed the club and he remains one of the great Ayr United managers.
He was a real character who never missed an opportunity to promote his players or the club and there will never be another like him. He died on 6th February 2004, aged 72, with the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and many Blackburn Rovers legends in attendance.