Managers Countdown: Sam Allen

No.16 | Sam Allen | Manager July 1920 to April 1933 | Score 256.9

In this feature I’m only counting seasons starting from the 1920/21 season. This was when Swindon Town were elected as founding members of Division Three. Of course, Sam Allen was appointed head of team affairs back in 1902, so these statistics don’t include his fine Southern League pedigree and excellent FA Cup record prior to 1920, when Sam took Town to FA Cup semi-finals twice, an FA Cup run never since equaled.

Allen’s 13 year spell that is counted here, from 1920 to April 1933, encompassed 543 Football League games, made him our longest serving manager and along the way his sides set many records which remain unbeaten today.

There’s no better way to start life in the Football League than a 9-1 win at home to Luton Town. A record League win that has yet to be beaten. If only results carried on in that vain…

Over our first eight seasons in Division Three and Division Three South, Allen guided a consistent Swindon to seven top six finishes, baring a 9th finish in 1922/23. Despite these good finishes Town just couldn’t mount a serious challenge for the single promotion spot. A 4th finish in 1924/25 just six points shy of winners Swansea City was the closest Allen could get to an elusive promotion.

Allen continued his fine FA Cup performances in this period. A Cup Quarter Final in 1923/24 has only been equalled once since. In addition Town made the 5th Round once and the 4th Round three times. On the way to the 4th Round in 1925/26, Allen’s next record set was a dominant 10-1 biggest cup victory achieved over Farnham Breweries.

The next record Allen was responsible for was Harry Morris. The striker was signed from Swansea City in July 1926, taking 3 club records in his 7 seasons; scoring 215 goals in 260 League games, 47 goals in a season (1925/26) and all five in a 5-1 win over Norwich in 1930.

Bizarrely, despite Morris’ firepower, Town’s form dipped with ever worsening League finishes as Morris’ goals couldn’t compensate enough for a poor defence. The decline prompted the reluctance of the Board to decline offers for players and gradually Allen’s team was disbanded. After Swindon had scored goals for fun, Town now conceded ten in a 10-1 FA Cup  4th Round replay against Manchester City, equalling a club record set in 1902.

In November 1931 Sam Allen pointed his figure towards the Board, blaming them for Town’s slump to the basement of Division Three South.

It was all against my wishes that Bew, Denyer and Thom were allowed to leave us. I told the directors at the time that those players would be extremely difficult to replace but they would not listen to me…. We shall never build up a good team at Swindon so long as the directors adopt a policy of the wholesale importation of players. Last year we had a team that did us quite food service but the directors listened to some of the cranks on the bank than to me and the team was disbanded.

The Board really should’ve listened, as their persistent tactic of player sales and poor management would ultimately blight Town for another twenty years.

Without any suitable player replacements Town finished bottom of Division Three South in 1932/33, our lowest League finish at that point, forcing Town to apply for re-election. This was enough for the Board and Ted Vizard replaced Sam Allen with two games of the season to go.

After being replaced, Allen remained at Swindon as the Club secretary for another 13 years until his death on 1st January 1946. His 51 year service to one club resulted in Sam being awarded the Football League long service award in 1941.

Good, Bad or Ugly – Good – Even though Sam just couldn’t get Town promoted his impressive League finishes in our early Football League days, fine FA Cup performances and ability to give Swindon some memorable records shows what an important figurehead he’s been for Town. Our eventual downfall in the League can be put down to Allen’s growing frustrations at the limitations under which he was forced to operate, however Allen was an old man in a swiftly modernising and professional game, so the time was right to move Sam upstairs.

  • Leagues: 13 seasons in Division Three South
  • FA Cup: 29 ties | Best run was a Quarter Final in 1923/24
  • League Cup:  Not entered
  • Achievements: Re-election in final season
League Pld Won Drn Lst For Agg League Pts P/G League Score FAC Score FLC Score
543 220 129 194 955 897 789 1.5 193.25 63.62 0.00


Click here for a full list of the managers in the countdown so far and their scores, including an explanation of how the scoring works.

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