Ken Allison (right) played for the Rochester Lancers in their first three seasons. (Photo courtesy of the Rochester Sports Garden)
By Michael Lewis
Ken Allison, a member of the original Rochester Lancers who went onto forge a successful refereeing career after retiring as a player, has passed away.
According to the Rochester Sports Garden, Allison died in April.
He was 84.
“We at the Rochester Sports Garden recently learned that Kenny Allison, one of our favorite soccer referees, passed away this past April,” The Rochester Sports Garden said in a Facebook post June 11. “We will remember Kenny for his honesty on and off the field, his incredible sense of humor, and his love for the game of soccer and the Sports Garden.
“Sending our love to Kenny’s wife, children, and everyone at the Sports Garden who knew and loved him. Thanks for the memories, Kenny. ❤️⚽️”
Added Pat Ercoli, who played for the Lancers from 1978-80 and was coach and general manager of the Rochester Rhinos: “So sorry to hear about his passing, a true gentleman. 🙏🙏🙏”
“RIP to a true soccer legend. 😢 ” current Lancers TV play-by-play man Joe Giuliano wrote on his Facebook page
Also known to his friends as Kenny, Allison performed for the Lancers during their American Soccer League days from 1967-69. He was a productive midfielder “who can do it all – tackle, score, pass and run,” according to his bio on the soccer team’s press release in 1969.
And he did. Allison forged a reputation as a midfielder who could score from distance.
Allison joined the team early in the 1967 season with the help of Congressman Frank Horton, who expedited his entry into the United States from England.
The 6-foot, 165-lb. Allison had the distinction of scoring the first Lancers’ goal in the club’s first win during its maiden ASL season. He scored off a Gordon Roberts pass in the seventh minute against the Newark Ukrainian Sitch at Aquinas Stadium Sept. 10, 1967.
It was a much-needed victory because the Lancers had dropped their opening two competitive matches at home before that game.
However, Allison did not see the end of the game as he was ejected for a dangerous play in the 26th minute for what the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle called “a dangerous play.” Despite playing a man down for the final 64 minutes, they recorded a 4-2 win before a crowd of 1,257 (there were no red cards in 1967; they made their debut during the 1970 World Cup).
Allison continued scoring goals and helped solidify the midfield the next two seasons.
“Rochester fans know the secret of his success – hard driving play,” his 1969 bio said.
In 1970, Allison was traded to the Syracuse Scorpions as part of a transaction that brought forward Jim Lefkos, the 1970 ASL rookie of the year, to the Lancers.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland on Jan. 6, 1937, Allison performed for several clubs in Great Britain.
Allison played with Hibernians in the Scottish First Division from 1957-62 before transferring to Darlington of the English League for a reported $18,000. After three years with that club, Allison transferred to Lincoln City in the same league for approximately the same amount of money.
After retiring, Allison remained in Rochester and most recently lived in North Chili, becoming one of the most respected game officials in the area.
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