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Ally MacLeod, 1931-2004, Scottish footballer and manager.

Ally MacLeod is best remembered for his management of the Scottish football team during the World Cup in Argentina in 1978. As the only British team to qualify for the finals, Ally managed to whip himself, the media and eventually the whole Scottish nation into a frenzy with his declaration that Scotland were capable of actually winning the damn thing. A crowd of 30,000 bade farewell to the Scottish team at Hampden Park before they departed for Argentina, and for the first time in Scotland the commercial side of football was fully exploited, with a novelty single penned by Scottish music-hall comedian Andy Cameron, Ally's Tartan Army selling a quarter of a million copies.

Inevitably, Scotland flopped in South America, losing their opening match to Peru, a side so underestimated by MacLeod that he had never watched them play. Worse was to come with a draw against Iran, which ended with MacLeod being pelted with scarves thrown by some of the thousand-odd Scottish fans who had managed to beg, borrow or buy their passage to Cordoba. The sight of MacLeod, head in his hands at despair at his side's poor showing would be endlessly replayed. By the time Scotland proved they could play well, in their final, famous, win against eventual runners-up Holland, it was the classic case of too little, too late and Scotland were eliminated.

Ally MacLeod was born in Glasgow, and after a brief spell of National Service and some time training as an industrial chemist, he played for Third Lanark and St Mirren football clubs. Then in 1956 he was signed by the English second division side Blackburn Rovers, where he quickly made the left winger position his own. Blackburn gained promotion to the first division in 1958. In 1960 they reached the FA Cup final, and MacLeod played in the 3-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers. In 1962 he moved to back to Scotland to play for Hibernian.

In 1964, he retired from playing and began coaching at Ayr United where he quickly became promoted to manager. Ally would spend 9 years at Ayr, where he managed to establish them in the new Scottish Premier League and managed to achieve victories over the old firm of Rangers and Celtic. Then in 1975 he progressed to Aberdeen. There he transformed a side struggling against relegation into a title contender, winning the Scottish League Cup in 1976. In appointing the young centre-back Willie Miller as captain and signing a teenage Alex McLeish he also set in place one of the partnerships that Alex Ferguson would later build into a European force in the 1980s.

His success at Aberdeen did not go unnoticed and when Willie Ormond left the Scotland job in 1977, he was a popular replacement choice. He enjoyed early initial success, enjoying a memorable victory over England at Wembley in 1977, which the tartan army celebrated in an over-the-top manner, trashing the Wembley goal-posts and removing parts of the turf as souvenir. Qualification for the World Cup was also achieved, thanks to a dubious penalty decision against Wales. But after the debacle in Argentina, MacLeod soon left, admitting he had made a number of mistakes. But this was the moment when Scotland fans stopped taking themselves so seriously, and compared to the records of other Scotland managers, MacLeod's proved to be no better or worse then anyone else. All he gave was a great excess of exuberance and optimism, a mistake no other Scotland manager will make.

After 1978 MacLeod retreated back into Scottish club management, taking the top job at Motherwell, Airdrieonians, and two more spells at Ayr United. Although generally he made tough good teams, he did not collect anymore trophyware.

MacLeod's last managerial job was for Dumfries side Queen of the South in 1991. Although only briefly in charge he entered the record books as the oldest goalscorer in Scottish football. The QOTS side was suffering from debt and a lack of players, and for one reserve match, MacLeod was forced to name himself as a triallist and take part in the game himself. He played the full 90 minutes, and when Queen of the South were awarded a penalty kick he took it himself and scored, at the age of 61.

whoever soft-linked this to Ally McBeal I salute you

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