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Ally MacLeod (6/5/1966 – 4/11/1975)

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.

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