Jimmy McIlroy (1931 – 2018)
Burnley Football Club have this morning confirmed the sad news that former Clarets inside-forward Jimmy McIlroy has died aged 86. McIlroy who was widely regarded as the clubs finest ever player made 497 appearances for the Clarets in a golden age for the club.
The Northern Irishman, who spent 13 years at Turf Moor was an integral part of Burnley’s 1960-Championship winning team under legendary manager Harry Potts. McIlroy who played inside-forward, wore the number eight and ten shirts in a period of outstanding service to the club, McIlroy scored 131 goals as the Clarets became one of the best teams in the country.
After signing from Glentoran in March 1950, Lambeg-born McIlroy made his Burnley debut under the management of Frank Hill in October 1950 in a First Division game at Sunderland. A wonderfully skilful and creative player, McIlroy became a mainstay of the side that didn’t finish outside the top seven in the First Division from 1956 until 1963 the year he left the club to join Stoke City in a move that devasted the club’s supporters.
Potts took over as manager in 1958 and with the inspirational McIlroy heading a team of talent, including club legends Adam Blacklaw, John Angus, Alex Elder, Brian Miller, Tommy Cummings, Jimmy Adamson, John Connelly, Ray Pointer, Jimmy Robson and Brian Pilkington, Burnley were crowned league champions for only the second time in their history.
That earned Burnley a place in Europe, McIlroy starring as the Clarets reached the quarter-finals on the European Cup in 1961 and in 1962, McIlroy and his team-mates almost became the first team to win ‘The Double’ finishing second in the league to Ipswich Town and losing in the FA Cup Final to great rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
McIlroy was also one of Northern Ireland’s finest players, winning 55 caps and helping his country reach the quarter-finals of the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. After ending his playing career with Oldham Athletic, McIlroy briefly managed the Latics and Bolton Wanderers. But his home remained Burnley, where he lived for the rest of his life.