Monday, February 25, 2013
25 February 1967 - The Death Of Tony Allden
The 22-year old, 6'1" center half helped propel the small Worcestershire Combination club into the quarterfinals of the tournament where they hosted Enfield, a Isthmian League side sitting two levels above Highgate in the English football pyramid. Enfield were clear favorites, but the stands were humming with anticipation from a capacity crowd of over 2,000 as the teams took the pitch under a heavy downpour.
But at 3:27 pm, with just under half an hour played, a bolt of lightning struck Allden, who was standing in the center circle. According to one report, Allden was left "crumpled in an aura of blue smoke." Two other players, brothers Eric and Roy Taylor, also collapsed due to shock. All three were rushed to the hospital where the Taylors soon recovered, but Allden did not. He passed away from his injuries the following afternoon.
Because of media attention, the replay drew a crowd of over 30,000, forcing its move away from Highgate's Tythebarn Lane to the larger Villa Park, where Enfield won 0-6 (they went on to win the cup over Skelsmerdale United in a final reply at Manchester City's Maine Road ground).
That April, a memorial match was played in Allden's honor between a Midlands XI and an International XI. He was also recognized with the creation of the Tony Allden Memorial Cup.