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Willie's Goal-den Record Honoured

23 November 2015

Clarets legend Willie Irvine has been honoured on the 50th anniversary of setting a club goalscoring feat that still exists to this day.

The sprightly 72-year-old accepted a specially commissioned plaque at Turf Moor on Sunday, commemorating his 29 league goals scored in the 1965/66 season.

The presentation, made by Vice Chairman Barry Kilby on behalf of the football club and the Burnley FC Former Players’ Association, was made on the occasion that two of his former clubs. Burnley and Brighton and Hove Albion met at Turf Moor.

And below, club historian Ray Simpson tells the story of Willie Irvine’s 50-year goascoring record.

Irvine went on to score a total of 97 goals for Burnley in just 148 matches, before moving on to Preston North End, today’s opponents Brighton and Hove Albion, and Halifax Town."

It is often overlooked that this achievement was also a Burnley FC record, equalling the 37 goals scored by the great Jimmy Robson to break the club record in 1960-61.

During that 1965-66 campaign Irvine scored five goals in the FA Cup and three more in the League Cup, in addition to his First Division total of 29; a phenomenal overall tally of 37 goals.

Both were before the Great War and both were by the legendary Bert Freeman; 32 in 1911-12 and 31 in 1912-13.

Beel himself holds the club scoring record of 35 league goals, set in 1927-28 and Willie’s total in 1965-66 has only been surpassed on two other occasions.

Irvine’s tally was, and still is, the highest total of league goals in one season by a Burnley player since George Beel hit 30 in 1928-29.

Willie’s final haul of 29 league goals at the end of the 1965-66 season overtook the previous post-war Turf Moor high of 27 set by the ‘blond bombshell’ Ray Pointer in 1958-59.

Irvine and Lochhead netted an incredible 70 goals between them, in the league and the two cups, as the Clarets finished third to qualify for European competition.

The following season, 1965-66, the understanding between Burnley’s two hitmen reached its peak.

This was when his partnership with Lochhead really began to flourish and the two scored 49 goals between them in league and FA Cup.

Irvine made his top flight debut in May 1963, scoring four goals in the space of four days in Burnley’s final two matches of the season, although his real breakthrough came in 1964-65 when he top scored with 22 league goals.

They had admired the natural instinct of a born goalscorer as he regularly and systematically destroyed opposition defences at every level.

During the early 1960’s a sizeable contingent of Turf Moor stalwarts had watched the progress of young Irvine in the Clarets’ junior and reserve teams and then on into the First Division.

Irvine was well on his way to setting a post-war goal-scoring record of 29 league goals for Burnley Football Club.

Barely three months into the season Irvine and Lochhead had already netted 28 goals between them and history was in the making.

The Clarets’ other two goals that day were scored by another young man, Andy Lochhead, and these two made rather a habit of scoring goals for Burnley in the 1960’s.

"Fifty years ago this very week, in November 1965, young Irishman Willie Irvine scored in a 3-1 victory for Burnley against Aston Villa here at his beloved Turf Moor.

Congratulations to Willie, on behalf of everyone at Turf Moor

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