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Allan Harris 1942-2017

Chelsea Football Club is greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Allan Harris, our former defender who made over a century of appearances in the team in the 1960s...

Chelsea Football Club is greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Allan Harris, our former defender who made over a century of appearances in the team in the 1960s. He was 74.

Allan, like his younger brother, our legendary former captain Ron Harris, was signed as a junior for the Blues by Ted Drake having grown up in east London and played for England Schoolboys. He was a member of the Chelsea teams that won back-to-back FA Youth Cups in 1960 and 1961, our first successes in that competition and was joined in graduating into the first team by many in those youth sides, including Terry Venables, Bert Murray, Bobby Tambling, Peter Bonetti and his brother.

Allan’s first-team debut came between those two Youth Cup campaigns, in October 1960 in a victorious League Cup tie against Workington Town and the teenage full-back made 21 appearances that breakthrough season, including in a big win at Arsenal in one of his first league games.

Although the team was relegated the next season, they bounced straight back in 1962/63 under fresh, young manager Tommy Docherty with Allan contributing 15 appearances to the promotion push. He enjoyed a 10-game run up to Boxing Day that yielded nine wins and a draw but was suddenly halted by a famous ‘big freeze’ and a six-week wait for a restart.

Although right-footed, Allan preferred to play left-back but by now was competing for that position with new signing Eddie McCreadie, and with the outstanding Ken Shellito playing on the right and Marvin Hinton another option, Allan’s playing time decreased so he accepted the invitation to join Jimmy Hill’s Coventry City in November 1964.

However he rejoined Chelsea just one-and-a-half years later and in 1967, he played in the later rounds of the FA Cup as the club ended our long quest to play in a Wembley final in that competition. Leeds United were overcome in the semi-final at Villa Park which had been the scene of defeat at that stage the previous two years. Unfortunately the win could not be repeated in the first all-London FA Cup final where we beaten by Tottenham. 

‘To play in the FA Cup final was a great occasion, something every young footballer in the country dreams of doing,’ he later said. ‘I really enjoyed it, despite losing the game, and the atmosphere at Wembley was incredible.’

Allan left that summer for Queens Park Rangers having started 98 games, made four substitute appearances and scored one goal. He finished his playing career at Plymouth and Cambridge before becoming an assistant manager to his former Chelsea colleague and captain Venables, the two having been friends since school age.

At QPR their success in winning promotion and reaching an FA Cup final attracted Barcelona and their time managing abroad became a big news story. Allan’s success working with ‘El Tel’ at Camp Nou included a La Liga title and reaching the European Cup final. Among the players Allan worked with was Diego Maradona. He later managed in his own right in Spain with Espanyol and in Egypt and Malaysia. 

Paying tribute to his brother, Ron Harris says: ‘We were very, very close, playing together from when we lived over in Hackney and Allan played for the Under-11s district side and I was eight or nine at the time.

‘One of the reasons I went to Chelsea was that he went there two years before me and then we progressed through, and the highlight was being brothers who played together in an FA Cup final. My mum and dad were really proud and so were me and Allan.’

Chelsea sends our deepest condolences to Ron and all of Allan’s family and friends.

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