Clarets Legend Series (Jimmy Adamson)

Jimmy Adamson was born in Ashington, Northumberland on the 4th April 1929, he was born into a mining community and like most football mad kids growing up in the North East in the 1930’s, the narrow poorly lit alleys between the terraced houses were the first football pitches that a young Jimmy Adamson would have known.

Whilst at school, Jimmy Adamson played centre-half and his ability and undoubted class and he would have collected many schoolboy honours, if it was not for the outbreak of the Second World War. It was whilst he was playing for East Chevington juniors as an inside forward that he was spotted by football scout Jackie Dryden a shrewed judge of natural talent and it wasn’t long before he was on his way to Turf Moor.

Adamson, signed his first professional contract in January 1947 at the age of seventeen, still playing as an inside-forward in the youth and reserve teams he struggled in the early years of his career. But after moving positions to wing-half his true potential was realised and at the age of twenty-two he made his first-team debut against Bolton Wanderers in February 1951, coming on as a substitute for Reg Atwell.

Having won a place in the Clarets first team playing alongside such players as Jimmy McIlroy and Tommy Cummings, his ball control and reading of the game brought him recongnition in March 1953, when he was selected to represent Engalnd B team against Scotland B team in Edinburgh.

Burnley Football Club won the Football League Championship in 1959-60 using only 18 different players throughout the league season, Adamson made a major contribution to the success that season playing in all forty-two matches. He received another honour in October 1960, when at thirty-one he was selected to for the Football League side to play against the Irish Football League at Blackpool.

The Clarets were on course for the league and cup double in the 1961-62 season, however they were beaten to a second Football League Championship in three season’s by Ipswich Town. The Clarets finished runners-up in both competitions as the Wembley FA Cup Final was won by Tottenham Hotspur. However as recognition of the clubs achievement Captain Jimmy Adamson was voted “Footballer of the Year” with his team mate Jimmy McIlroy finishing as runner-up.

At the age of thirty-three, Adamson was included in the 1962 World Cup squad and was also appointed assistant to the England manager Walter Winterburn. When Winterburn left the role, Jimmy Adamson was offered the post of England manager but he turned the job down as he felt he didn’t have enough management experience.

During the 1962/63 season his place in the Clarets staring line-up started to come under pressure from players such as Walter Joyce, David Walker and later Brian O’Neil. He did win his place back in Harry Potts team, but his final match came at Bloomfield Road in February 1964 against Blackpool Football Club.

Adamson, joined the Turf Moor coaching staff after he stopped playing, working under Harry Potts until he moved upstairs to become general manager. At that point Jimmy Adamson was appointed manager but the club were relegated at the end his first full season in charge. However, he lead the team back to the top-flight in 1973, winning the Second Division Championship.

Burnley were relegated again in 1976, although Adamson had already left the club in the January of that year, following defeat in the FA Cup (3rd Round) and just like his playing career his Clarets management career ended at Bloomfield Road.

Adamson was appointed manager of Dutch side Sparta Rotterdam in May 1976, but left the following month. In November 1976 he was made manager of Sunderland but was unable to prevent them from relegation from the First Division. He left Sunderland in November 1978, taking over from Jock Stein as manager of Leeds United Football Club.  

His time at Leeds is well remembered for the huge roars of “Adamson Out” with which the crowd greeted his later appearances. He left Leeds United in October 1980. He took no further part in professional football and spent the rest of his life living in Burnley.

Adamson, sadly died on 8th November 2011 at the age of eighty-two, but he continues to be remember by the Clarets supporters as he has the honour of being the last Burnley player to captain a First Division Championship side and to lead the Club out at Wembley in an FA Cup Final, he is also sixth on the all time appearance list with 486 appearance, scoring 18 goals.

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