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Ally MacLeod (1/11/1985 – December 1990)

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 completed 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.

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