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Allardyce should be remembered fondly by Huddersfield

One of the few grounds in the country Big Sam will probably be welcome at

Sam Allardyce of Bolton Wanderers
Sam Allardyce during his playing days
Photo by Getty Images

There could not be a more terrifying sight than a berserk Big Sam barreling into a brawl on the football pitch.

Yet that is exactly what Fulham had to face when they played Huddersfield Town over three decades ago - when Everton were arguably one of the best sides in Europe and many of the younger generations that throng Goodison Park were not even born and had no inkling that Sam Allardyce would eventually land up as manager at the Grand Old Lady.

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner dug up a wonderful little story about how Allardyce waded into a crowd of players in defence of his Huddersfield teammate David Burke, who had his leg broken by a horrific tackle by Welshman Jeff Hopkins (what is with the Welsh and breaking legs, Seamus Coleman would like to know).

That game against Fulham was on March 23, 1985, at the Terriers’ old Leeds Road ground, Allardyce’s sixth stop on his journeyman playing career as a big and bruising centerhalf.

Allardyce is wearing the #6 shirt in Huddersfield’s stripes in the picture above, this being the moment he angrily jumped in. He was later sent off as the referee attempted to calm things down.

‘Order was finally restored,’ continued the Examiner report, ‘and Allardyce left the field after tugging off his jersey and throwing it into the ground in disgust.’

The game would go on to end 2-2, but his teammate Dale Tempest added more about Allardyce’s reaction that afternoon -

“I thought Mark (Lillis) and Sam had it all sorted to be fair, so I didn’t need to bother, but I remember it clearly.

“It was the worst tackle I ever saw – it was awful.

“Jeff and Big Sam got sent off and when they both got down the tunnel, Sam was trying to kick the away dressing room door in to get at him!”

Big Sam wasn’t long at the Terriers, moving on after the end of the ‘84-’85 season to five more clubs before retiring with 479 games under his belt and jumping into coaching, where he’s been just as well-travelled.

In a wonderful piece of closure to end this story, a fully-recovered Burke would later join Blackpool in 1994 soon after Allardyce had been appointed the manager there in his first full-time gig.