Jimmy McIl­roy

1931-2018

World Soccer - - Contents - Keir Radnedge

The great­est player in Burn­ley’s his­tory, Jimmy McIl­roy was also one of the finest to rep­re­sent North­ern Ire­land.

A play­mak­ing in­side-right, he scored 10 goals in 55 ap­pear­ances for his coun­try be­tween 1951 and 1965 and was a mem­ber of the side that reached the quar­ter-fi­nals of the World Cup in 1958 be­fore los­ing to the France of Ray­mond Kopa and Just Fon­taine.

McIl­roy also played 497 games for Burn­ley be­tween 1950 and 1962, win­ning the league ti­tle in 1960 and reach­ing the quar­ter-fi­nals of the Euro­pean Cup the fol­low­ing sea­son be­fore los­ing to Ham­burg.

A state­ment from Burn­ley read: “[The club are] deeply sad­dened to learn of the death of our great­est ever player. A gi­ant of a man. The thoughts of every­one con­nected with the club are with his fam­ily and friends at this sad time.”

McIl­roy started his ca­reer at North­ern Ir­ish club Glen­toran in 1949 be­fore mov­ing to Burn­ley one year later. He went on to score 131 goals dur­ing a time the club de­scribe as their “golden age”.

In 1962 Burn­ley fin­ished league and FA Cup run­ners-up but, af­ter fall­ing out with man­ager Harry Potts, McIl­roy moved to the “veter­ans team” put to­gether by Tony Wadding­ton at Stoke City. He part­nered Stan­ley Matthews in their Sec­ond Divi­sion ti­tle-win­ning side in 1963 and to­talled 116 fur­ther league ap­pear­ances with the club be­fore mov­ing on to Old­ham Ath­letic and fi­nally re­tir­ing from play­ing in 1967.

He was Old­ham man­ager from 1965 to 1968, and also took charge of Bolton Wan­der­ers for a brief pe­riod in 1970. He later worked as a writer with a lo­cal news­pa­per, the Burn­ley Ex­press.

Burn­ley’s Turf Moor ground has a stand named af­ter McIl­roy, who was awarded a tes­ti­mo­nial in 2009. In 2011, he was made an MBE for ser­vices to foot­ball and to char­ity, and asked if he could re­ceive the hon­our at Turf Moor rather than Buck­ing­ham Palace.

In an in­ter­view with the Belfast Tele­graph in 2008, he re­vealed that he turned down lu­cra­tive of­fers to leave Burn­ley, in­clud­ing one from Sam­p­do­ria.

He said that the Ital­ian club’s coach met him on the morn­ing of the 1962 FA Cup Fi­nal, which Burn­ley lost 3-1 to Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur, and “promised me all sorts: a villa over­look­ing the Mediter­ranean, an in­ter­na­tional school for my chil­dren, wages way be­yond what I was get­ting in Eng­land”.

McIl­roy added: “But when I went back to the ho­tel and told my wife she said to me: ‘What would we want to leave Burn­ley for?’

“I even had a chance to go to South Amer­ica, River Plate in Ar­gentina, when I went on tour with Stoke there. Again I rang my wife and said there’s good money here, and she just said: ‘Sure, but what would we want to leave Burn­ley for?’”

“Jimmy came from an era that de­fines us as a club. Even to­day, over 50 years on, the sta­dium proudly bears his name on a stand and he is some­one who was, and is, idolised by fans of ev­ery gen­er­a­tion” Burn­ley chair­man Mike Gar­lick (left) pays trib­ute to Jimmy McIl­roy

dan­ger man...in ac­tion against Tot­ten­ham hot­spur

World Cup...North­ern Ire­land’s side in 1958 (McIl­roy is front row, sec­ond from left)

hero...Burn­ley’s best

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