Referees in the Middle: David Allison

Premier League Career: 1992-1994

First Premier League Match: Middlesbrough 4-1 Leeds United (22 August 1992)

Final Premier League Match: Wimbledon 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur (30 April 1994)

David Allison was one of the referees in the very first season of the Premier League. By the time the competition had been formed in 1992, he had already being part of the profession for 12 years, taking charge of his first Football League match in 1980.

When he was promoted to the referees’ list at the age of just 31, some thought he was too young to handle the pressure of top-flight matches which in the 1980s were often played on slow, bumpy pitches at a more aggressive tempo. However, he was seen as a steady pair of hands to control these games. With more experience and maturity, he was becoming one of the best and most trusted officials in the Football League.

By the end of the 1980s, he was often the man given responsibility to handle the testing but enjoyable Manchester and Merseyside derbies. Despite this widespread praise, he was overlooked for the showpiece FA Cup final. David’s most senior appointment in cup football was taking charge of a League Cup semi-final first leg in 1992 between Nottingham Forest and Tottenham Hotspur.

His first Premier League appointment was newly-promoted Middlesbrough’s surprising 4-1 home win over defending champions Leeds United. Allison would remain on the Premier League’s officiating list for the first two seasons of the new era in English football, controlling 33 matches.  In 1994, the league decided to move to a smaller list of officials who would control its matches. It was a big surprise to see him not selected to continue duties in the top-flight.

This was a crushing disappointment for David but he didn’t pack up his whistle until the end of the 1996-1997 season after returning to Football League duty for another three campaigns. This included taking charge of the 1996 First Division play-off final between Leicester City and Crystal Palace when Steve Claridge scored with practically the last kick of the match to take Leicester back to the Premier League at the first attempt of asking.

In total, he controlled 463 matches in English football and remained in the game after retirement as a referees’ coach. In 2007, he was appointed National Group Manager in charge of the 57 top referees for the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) and is also the Training Officer for the Lancaster & Morecambe Referees’ Society.

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