Brian Pilkington (1933 – 2020)
Burnley Football Club has this afternoon confirmed the sad news that one of the clubs legends and former footballer Brian Pilkington has died at the age of eighty-six. Brian, was a key member of the Clarets side that were crowned Football League champions in 1960 and a full England International, he died peacefully in a care home in Adlington following a long battle with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
The winger was recommended to the Clarets whilst playing for his hometown club Leyland Motors Football Club, at the time there was strong interest from various north west clubs and Burnley signed him in April 1951. Brian continued to work at Leyland Motors as an apprentice coach painter, while still playing for Burnley Reserves in the Central League.
In September 1952, he made his first team debut against Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor, deputising for Billy Elliott and following the departure of Elliott to Sunderland in the summer of 1953, Brian became a regular in the first team. In February, 1954, he was called in to the Royal Air Force and was stationed at RAF Kirkham, but continued to play for Burnley during this period.
Brian was called up to represent his country in October 1954 replacing the injured Tom Finney. He made his one and only appearance for England in Belfast against Northern Ireland. He also played for England ‘B’ on several occasions and was selected for several Football League representative teams. Brian also represented the RAF on numerous occasions until he his departure from the force in February, 1956.
Brian continued to regularly feature as an outside-left for the Clarets and was instrumental in guiding Burnley to the First Division title. During that momentous 1959/1960 season he missed only one game and contributed 11 goals, including the opening goal at Manchester City in the 2-1 win that crowed Burnley as Champions.
The following season he continued to feature for the Clarets, scoring his last two goals for the club in the victory over Hamburg in the European Cup tie at Turf Moor. He was later that season transferred to Bolton Wanderers where he spent three years. He later had spells at Bury and Barrow before returning to non-league football.
Brian continued to live in Leyland and became a successful businessman and magistrate. In 2018 the Lancashire Football Association honoured him by naming a stand after him at their headquarters in Leyland. In total he made 340 appearances, scoring 77 goals for Burnley and will always be remembered as a true Clarets Legend.