Eight years ago today Burnley FC lost one of its big stars from the 1950’s, when wing half or inside forward Les Shannon passed away at his Bedfordshire home, aged 81.
Les Shannon was born in Liverpool in 1926 and came to Turf Moor in 1949 after his early career on Merseyside with both Everton and Liverpool seemed to be drifting.
He won a regular place in Burnley’s First Division side at inside left during the 1951-52 season, often being preferred to the Clarets’ rising young star Jimmy McIlroy.
In 1952-53 he was an ever-present, by now forming an inside forward duo with McIlroy, and was the Clarets’ second top scorer to Bill Holden, with 16 goals in league and cup.
In 1954 Shannon moved into the half back line to replace the departed Reg Attwell and he became a virtual fixture in the side over the next few years.
He was an outstanding player, always stylish, was comfortable on the ball and extremely combative when necessary. He was watched by the international selectors but although he won England caps at “B” level he was never quite able to break through to the full international side.
Les Shannon made his final senior appearance in September 1958 at the age of 32, with 282 games for Burnley and 44 goals to his name.
He coached at Everton and Arsenal, then managed Bury and Blackpool, winning promotion with both clubs. He later moved to Greece where he enjoyed great success with PAOK and Iraklis, guiding both clubs to victory in the Greek Cup in the 1970’s.
He also managed Olympiakos and coached in Norway before returning to England. His later years were spent coaching and scouting for Luton Town.
Younger supporters might be surprised to learn that 25 years ago there was a groundbreaking television drama on Channel Four called “The Manageress”.
It featured actress Cherie Lunghi in the role of the female boss of a football club and was very popular.
The makers of that programme were very keen to have a genuine footballing voice as an advisor to ensure absolute authenticity. The man they chose was Les Shannon.
Seven years ago the Clarets were live to the nation as they overcame Arsenal in this eagerly-awaited League Cup quarter-final tie at Turf Moor.
Burnley’s stunning victory on penalties in the previous round against Chelsea was still vivid in the memory, particularly of those Clarets’ fans who had been at Stamford Bridge on that epic November night.
More than 19,000 fans turned up and Burnley didn’t disappoint as two classy goals from Kevin McDonald, in his first season at Turf Moor, saw off the Gunners.
McDonald had only previously made a handful of starts, and had scored his first Burnley goal three days earlier against Derby County.
On seven minutes Burnley were ahead when Chris Eagles sent in in a low cross from the right. Gunners’ keeper Fabianski spilled it under pressure from Martin Paterson and McDonald was on hand to tap the ball home from six yards.
Arsenal’s young side had their chances but the Clarets stood firm with Brian Jensen, as he often did, looking unbeatable.
After the break, with Arsenal pressing for an equaliser they were caught out with a counter attack, falling further behind after 56 minutes. Once again it was Kevin McDonald, who claimed his second goal of the game with a fine finish.
The Scot was first to the ball after an Eagles' throw on the right, he eased forward and curled the ball home beautifully with the outside of his right foot from 15 yards.
Having seen off two of the capital’s big Premier League guns, three if Fulham were included, the Clarets were now set for another London showdown, next up Tottenham in the semi-final.
Burnley team (442):
Michael Duff, Clarke Carlisle, Steven Caldwell, Stephen Jordan,
Chris Eagles, Chris McCann, Kevin McDonald (Joey Gudjonsson), Graham Alexander,
Robbie Blake (Wade Elliott), Martin Paterson (Ade Akinbiyi).