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Obituary – Ally Dawson

We were very saddened to learn of the untimely death of former Accies Manager Ally Dawson, who passed away age 63 on Monday 26th July.

Ally had bravely borne a long illness recently.

While he is no doubt best remembered as a former captain of Rangers, and also capped by Scotland, his only managerial appointment in this country was with ourselves. 

He had previously managed in Malta, where he had family connections, but joined Accies in October 1998 as assistant to Colin Miller (himself the club’s most capped ever player). We found ourselves relegated that season and when Colin resigned in August 1999 it was Ally who took over as Manager, and was in place until May 2002.

Colin and Ally had inherited a hugely successful u17/18 team who had won the Reserve League in 1998 (nine of our regular starters were all 17/18) and these players would all play big parts in the first team squad in the next few seasons – Michael Moore, Michael Martin, Ross Maclaren, Paul Gaughan amongst others.

To them he added experienced pros in Darren Henderson, Tommy Tait, Ian McAulay, Ian Macfarlane, Michael Geraghty amongst others. And the long serving Chris Hillcoat who would succeed him as Manager.

Ally was a hard working  manager, popular on the training field, came in every day, got his sleeves rolled up and simply got on with the job. He was Manager at a troubled time in our recent history with the club homeless, groundsharing elsewhere, and being based in an office across from present day NDP. But everyone got on with the job.

While he also oversaw an unfortunate relegation to the Third Division in 2000, the following season brought success at youth and first team level. The u18s reached the semi final of the SFA Youth Cup, losing to Celtic at Parkhead, and much of that squad also were in the reserve team who reached the Reserve League Cup Final, losing to Livingston at Firhill. There was also a disapppointing Scottish Cup defeat at Buckie.

However, Ally was our boss in the Third Division title winning season of 2000-01, culminating in a magnificent last four days of the season with two away games both at Montrose, winning promotion on the Tuesday, then returning to Links Park to wrap up the Championship on the Saturday. All Accies fans present will never forget those four days, with our own ‘helicopter Saturday’ as it overflew the assembled fans and squad at Links Park before landing at the nearby golf course, then the trophy got delivered with then SFL Secretary Peter Donald.

That summer Ally oversaw the move into the new stadium, back home in Hamilton after seven years. Sunderland played in the opening game with over 4000 fans, then the following week, with Andy Goram in goal for us, we had our opening league fixture, and league title flag raising ceremony against Queen of the South.

Again Ally continued to work hard, assisted variously by Robert Prytz, Chris Hillcoat and Bobby Jenks. However off field financial troubles arose again and Ally was unfortunately one of many departures at the end of that season in May 2002.

We would continue to cross paths with Ally in the succeeding years, as he became a youth coach again at Rangers, and we also used his connections when we had a pre season trip to Malta six years ago.

An essentially quiet and family man, he was hard working here at Accies, and he will be remembered in particular for four happy days in Montrose, as well as the opening of NDP.

Our thoughts are very much with his family and friends at this time.

RIP Ally.

Scott Struthers

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