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Football: Anfield legend does his part for charity; MEMORY LANE McAllister stages golf tournament.


"ON the tee, Gary McAllister!" has been a familiar announcement on the celebrity golf circuit for over a decade now.

But the former Liverpool midfielder never thought the day would dawn when he would stage his own tournament and raise over pounds 100,000 for charity.

The project began in 2005 when McAllister linked up with fellow Sky pundit Andy Gray for their first Charity Golf Classic at Celtic Manor in South Wales, venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup.

They returned last year and will host their third event, in aid of the Against Breast Cancer charity, on July 2.

"I've always said I must be a frustrated pro golfer," says McAllister, a four-handicapper. "I played a lot as a kid and was a reserve for Scotland boys at one time.

"I was decent enough at that level but when I moved on to play in provincial amateur tournaments I realised that I was moving out of my league - and football was always my first sporting love."

His involvement with the ABC charity began after his wife, Denise, was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago and eventually he and ex-Tartan striker Gray joined forces to launch the Classic.

"I've witnessed what's involved with breast cancer at first hand so I know what these ladies and their families are going through," says McAllister, 42, whose wife died last year.

"Hopefully we can help to make it easier for them and move towards finding a cure one day.

"The competition is for 30 teams of four players, one of whom is a sporting personality, and Andy and I work together to bring in the celebs.

"People like Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen and Gary Lineker have supported us and we're expecting some big names again this time."

But as he makes plans for the Classic, the former Scotland skipper will be keeping a close eye on the final weeks of a season that could see two of his former clubs, Leicester and Leeds, drop into the third tier for the first time.

"I played a lot of games for both clubs and had some great times," says McAllister, who won a Championship medal at Elland Road in 1992 and also played for Motherwell, Coventry and Liverpool in a 22-year career that featured over 700 league appearances.

"It's strange to see them both struggling for survival in the Championship, particularly when you look at where Leeds were a few years ago. But I've a sneaking feeling they'll get out of it."

At the other end of the spectrum are Champions League hopefuls Liverpool, where McAllister earned cult status despite making only 87 league and cup appearances after arriving at the Merseyside club from Coventry on a free transfer in July 2000.

But as five of those appearances brought silverware to Anfield - and another saw Macca rifle in a 40-yard free-kick against Mersey rivals Everton - it isn't hard to see why he is regarded as a legend by the Liverpool faithful.

"I could sense what they were thinking when Gerard Houllier signed me: 'What are we doing with a bald-headed, 35-year-old Scot?' And I was absolutely determined to prove them wrong.

"I also saw straight away what wonderful potential there was. Players like Stevie Gerrard and Jamie Carragherwere starting tomake an impression and I knewI could do a job by bringing in a bit of experience."

And how! Despite being sent off on his debut against Arsenal, McAllister, who played 57 times for his country and is a member of the Scotland Hall of Fame, helped his newclub lift five trophies in six months.

FOR more information on the Andy Gray and Gary McAllister Charity Golf Classic, call 01905 731122.


Gary McAllister and Steven Gerrard with the European Cup (left) after McAllister scored a penalty (below); McAllister's last game for Liverpool
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 19, 2007
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