Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Club News

On This Day: December 16

16 December 2015


Today is the anniversary of the death of one of Burnley Football Club’s great characters, who also happens to be one of the most notorious in the club’s history, goalkeeper Jack Hillman.

With Burnley in real danger of relegation from the First Division in 1900, Hillman offered the players of Nottingham Forest £2 each if Forest lost the last match of the season at the City Ground.

Although the offer was later increased to £5 a man, Forest won the game 4-0 to send Burnley down.

Although Jack Hillman protested his innocence, insisting it had all been a joke, he was severely censured and was suspended from all competitive football for the whole of the 1900-01 season.

He was warned that any repeat of his behaviour would result in a lifetime ban.

Hillman was born in a small village in Cornwall in 1870 but moved to Burnley with his parents while he was still a small boy.

His formative years were spent virtually in the shadow of Turf Moor and it was on Fulledge Recreation Ground in 1890 that he was spotted by the Turf Moor scouts and invited for a trial.

He was soon a regular in Burnley’s reserve side and in September 1891 made his First Division debut. He immediately made the position his own and missed only a handful of games until his sudden transfer to Everton in February 1895.

The Merseysiders were challenging strongly for the First Division title and Hillman was soon thrust into the spotlight.

However their championship challenge eventually faltered and they ended the campaign as runners-up to Sunderland.

Following another season as first choice at Goodison Park, Jack Hillman joined Dundee in the summer of 1896 before returning to Turf Moor on loan in 1898, to help Burnley in their push for promotion in 1898.

With Burnley now back in the top flight Hillman spent another brief period with Dundee before once again returning to Turf Moor.

Standing over six feet tall and weighing more than 16 stones, Hillman was nickname “The Burly One”, and his excellent form eventually drew the attention of the International selectors.

He won his only full England cap in a memorable 13-2 victory against Ireland at Roker Park in February 1899. After a year on the sidelines following the bribery scandal, Jack Hillman won back his place yet again in the Burnley side before a transfer to Manchester City in January 1902.

In 1904 he was part of the City success story as they won the FA Cup for the first time and finished as runners-up in Division One.

Another season as a regular first-teamer followed before Jack Hillman joined Millwall in January 1907. His Lions career was short and he soon retired, later returning to Turf Moor once more as reserve team trainer.

He later became first team trainer and continued his association with the club until well after the First World War.

Jack Hillman played a total of 175 league games and nine FA Cup games for Burnley. He also represented the club in the wartime leagues, playing his last game in March 1918 at the age of 47!

After his retirement from the game he continued to live in Burnley and kept a shop in the Fulledge area where the ball from the 1904 Cup Final was displayed for many years.

Advertisement block