Friday, 16 November 2012

The Misunderstood Mark Allott

Mark Allott joined Chesterfield on loan from Oldham in December 2001. The striker (yes, Allott was signed as a striker), made his debut in a tempestuous match at Brighton on a Friday night game, he played alongside his other Oldham colleague Mark Innes, also signed on loan. At that time Chesterfield were in the grips of financial meltdown, having made promotion by foul means the season before, the Spireites were just out of administration so were able to sign players. It’s fair to say that Allott’s time as a forward player at Chesterfield had its highs and lows, he simply didn’t score enough goals. Allott and the Spireites made the deal permanent in February the following year, at that point he had scored two goals in ten appearances, hardly prolific, but he never was at Oldham either.

When Roy McFarland arrived in the summer of 2003, he decided that Allott was of more use to Chesterfield as a right sided midfielder. When Hudson left in the summer of 2005, this was an opportunity for Allott to play alongside Derek Niven in the middle of midfield, and they blossomed together, both aware of each other surroundings and complemented each other in their different styles. Niven a tough tackling, but yet ineffective ball player (not for the want of trying, I will add) and Allott, now a caresser of possession and very much a defensive middle of the park man, this was a complete turn-around. Allott was part of the side which made history for Chesterfield in the League Cup, going out only on penalties to Charlton Athletic in the 4th Round.  

Allott was very much a mainstay of the side for the next two seasons, and upon Chesterfield’s relegation in 2007 when Lee Richardson was manager, the Spireites did everything they could to keep Allott, who was in their plans to be the main man to guide the Spireites to promotion in their first season back in League Two. However, Allott disagreed and with his contract expired at Saltergate, decided that home would be the best option. Home, was back at Oldham. The Latics were now managed by future Chesterfield manager John Sheridan, the classy midfielder had seen enough in Allott in the previous season to know that he wanted him back at Boundary Park.

It’s fair to say that Chesterfield and Lee Richardson missed Allott’s presence in midfield, his no nonsense midfield work would often go un-noticed by fans, much like many a defensive midfielder, Chesterfield didn’t have their go to man to help out as the defence was stretched, you often feel with Allott’s calming presence that the Spireites would have and should have been promoted that first season back in 07-08.

Chesterfield appointed John Sheridan in June 2009 and upon signing, one of his first ports of call was to Oldham to go and get Mark Allott, only he wasn’t there. Allott’s contract had expired at Boundary Park and he had signed for Ronnie Moore’s Tranmere Rovers. Moore was then inexplicably sacked at Prenton Park, and the Wirral based side opted for a left-field appointment in John Barnes. Sheridan spotted this and decided to go for Allott. So just eight weeks after signing for Tranmere, Allott was on his way to Saltergate for a second time as the club prepared their final season at the archaic Saltergate.   
Allott begun his second spell at Chesterfield alongside his old midfield battler Derek Niven in a 2-0 defeat at Torquay, it’s fair to point out that Allott was always a mainstay of the Chesterfield side, much to the annoyance of some Chesterfield supporters who failed to see what he brought to the team and also a more obvious point, was the fact that Niven and Allott were the two midfielder’s that were in the side when the Spireites got relegated in the first place.

As the Spireites moved to their new ground in July 2010, Allott again was expected to be the heart of Chesterfield’s midfield, however not so much alongside Niven now, Dwayne Mattis had been brought in to partner him and Chesterfield looked more attacking. Three games in and Mattis was moved to defence and Sheridan opted for his fail safe route of Allott and Niven, the Spireites moved up a notch as an attacking force as they had more attack minded players around them. Chesterfield were crowned Champions at the end of the season, and Allott along with Mattis was there to lift the trophy.  

Last season was a very disappointing one for Chesterfield, lack of signings to bolster the squad in the short period meant Chesterfield went into the season, not under-cooked as such, but without that marquee signing that every club desires to sell season tickets, and it showed. Try as they might Chesterfield just could not get to grips with moving away from the bottom four places, so it was inevitable that Chesterfield were relegated with a game to spare. 

As Allott moved into his final year of his contract with the Spireites, Chesterfield signed Sam Togwell, six years younger and doing much the same job, it was hard to see where John Sheridan was going to play his trusty general. Sheridan started them together, it didn’t work, and Sheridan was placed on gardening leave after just three league games, (later resigned, but that’s for another time). Where was Allott going to play now? drifted out of the side, he started at Aldershot on the 6th October, he went off after 20 minutes with a hamstring injury, and on came the player, Chesterfield fans, hope will replace him in time, Craig Clay. Allott never turned out for Chesterfield again.  

I refer back to Allott’s career at the start and yes he was a striker, one of his memorable strikes for Chesterfield came at Millmoor in a 4-0 drubbing of Rotherham. His goal against his current team Oldham back in Jan 2002 saw Allott race to the corner flag, pick it up and wave it above his head, he did this on several occasions. My personal favourite came last season though. Having not scored since Nov 2009, Allott picked the ball up, moved it an inch and smacked the ball into the top corner, as easy and carefree as you like. That came in the final game of the season, it didn’t matter, Chesterfield had already been relegated, yet it was a superb goal.

Allott will finish his Chesterfield career 12th on the all time league list, he polarised opinion, not mine.  

1 comment:

  1. Mark has always been a top player respected by both players and peers, just had a look at his new site looks like he is taking a new direction, top bloke and such a grafter on the pitch - Kev Fisher.