Burnley Football Club is sad to hear of the death from cancer of Gordon Harris, a mainstay of the Clarets side of the 1960s and a member of the FA Cup final team at Wembley in 1962.
Harris was the first player to break into Burnley’s side on a regular basis after the League title triumph of 1960. He established himself in the side following the departure of Brian Pilkington early in 1961 and remained a regular for most of the next seven years.
Harris was working in the mines and playing schoolboy football at Nottinghamshire county level before his arrival at Turf Moor. He was still only eighteen when he made a scoring debut at home to Leeds in January 1959, but for that season and the next his first-team appearances were few. Although it was Pilkington whose place he eventually took in the side, Harris was a vastly different type of player, powerfully-built and a combative presence in the midfield area. He also possessed a cannonball of a shot in his left foot, and had a fine eye for goal. On the negative side, he had a short fuse and frequently fell foul of referees.
With Burnley still among the country’s leading clubs, he was well-placed to be noticed by the England selectors, and duly made his Football League debut in November 1961, scoring against the Irish League; the following week, he made his bow for the England Under-23 side.
That season arguably marked the peak of his Burnley career, with a career-best total of 17 goals and an appearance at Wembley in the FA Cup final against Tottenham.
Harris continued to perform consistently in the First Division for Burnley, though, and finally won a full England cap in a 1-1 draw against Poland at Goodison Park in January 1966.
Alf Ramsey was then effectively recruiting for the World Cup, and Harris was in his original squad of forty, but missed the final cut.
After appearing in all of the Clarets’ Fairs Cup matches in 1966/67, he was made club captain for the following season, but he was to spend only half of it as a Burnley player.
After being dropped from the first-team before Christmas, he was sold to Sunderland for £70,000 in January 1968. He had three years as a regular at Roker Park, during which time Sunderland suffered relegation to the Second Division, but after losing his place there he retired from League football and moved to nearby South Shields in the Northern Premier League where he ended his playing career.
Gordon Harris, affectionately known as “Bomber”, made a total of 313 appearances for Burnley, scoring 81 goals.
After leaving football, he returned to his native Nottinghamshire, working as a driver in the coal industry.
Sympathy is extended from all at the club to Gordon Harris’s family at this sad time.