1958 – 2021
It was with regret that we learnt of the passing of Ally Dawson on 26th July 2021 at the age of 63.
Ally Dawson was a typical Don Mackay signing. He was a player who had enjoyed a successful career but now that he was approaching the twilight of that career, Mackay hoped to harness his experience to help guide his younger players. In particular, he hoped he could help tutor a young Colin Hendry in the centre of defence.
Ally was a vastly experienced Scottish international who had given Rangers over a decade of service and appeared in no fewer than nine cup finals in Scotland – winning the Scottish Cup twice and the Scottish League Cup on four occasions. Ally had made 317 senior appearances for the Ibrox club and over 400 appearances including friendlies and minor cup competitions and had been capped by Scotland on five occasions. In truth, it was felt by many that he never really fulfilled his true potential, partly because of a serious injury sustained during a club tour of Canada when he fractured his skull. Nonetheless, it was an impressive playing career by any standards.
Ally, born in Johnstone on 25th February 1958, had joined Rangers straight from Johnstone High School in 1975 and made his first team debut against Queen’s Park in the Glasgow Cup on 1st September 1975. His senior debut came a few weeks later against Queen of the South in a League Cup-tie on 24th September 1975 and a few days after that he made his League debut against Dundee, on 27th September 1975. For much of his time at Ibrox he was a regular first choice in one of the full-back positions and also served as captain of the club. He was inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame in 2011.
Although predominantly a left-back, Ally could also play on the opposite flank and Mackay was confident enough in Ally’s defensive qualities to use him in the centre of defence. Ally had a reputation for being a calm and reliable defender who read the game well and Mackay hoped he would be able to be a steadying influence on Hendry. Sadly, Ally’s time at Ewood Park was blighted by a series of knee problems that impacted on his mobility. His positional sense remained undiminished but injuries restricted his appearances and he became something of a peripheral figure at Ewood Park. During three seasons with the Rovers he was restricted to 38 senior starts and a further 10 substitute appearances before he left the club at the end of the 1989-90 campaign.
Ally ended his playing career with a short spell with Limerick during the summer of 1990 before returning to Scotland to join Airedrieonians in August 1990. He only made a handful of appearances during the 1990-91 season before he moved to Malta to become player-coach to Luxol St. Andrew’s.
In October 1998, Ally joined Hamilton Academicals as assistant to Colin Miller. Sadly, the club was relegated at the end of the season and when Miller resigned, in August 1999, Ally took over as manager. He took charge of Hamilton at a difficult point in the club’s history with Hamilton having no ground of their own and playing home fixtures at Firhill whilst a new ground was built. Further problems resulted in players not being paid and a fifteen-point deduction was incurred when the players refused to take part in a game. Having kept the club in mid-table, against the odds, the points deduction led to relegation to the Third Division.
However, Ally proved a popular and hard-working manager who led the club to the Third Division title at the first attempt. The club moved into their new stadium and Ally secured a mid-table spot in the first season back in the Second Division. However, financial problems continued to plague the club and in May 2002, Ally left Hamilton having had to release players he wanted to keep.
The former defender was later a youth coach with Rangers and then worked for charity Street Soccer Scotland. Ally was a founder member of the organisation and coached Scotland to the Homeless World Cup title in 2011.
The Blackburn Rovers Former Players Association wish to express their deepest sympathy to Ally’s family and friends at this sad time.