Key figures from Burnley’s past and present pay tribute to one of their own in the shape of Jimmy McIlroy, the club president and one of its finest players who has died at the age of 86.
Club chairman and life-long Burnley supporter Mike Garlick:
“I wasn’t fortunate enough to see Jimmy play, but we all know of his impact on the club and town and there will never be another like him.
“It’s a different time, we all know that, but Jimmy came from an era that defines us as a club.
“Even today, over 50 years on, the stadium proudly bears his name on a stand and he is someone who was, and is, idolised by fans of every generation, who know what he meant to Burnley Football Club.
“It’s truly a sad day and all the thoughts of people connected with the club go out to his family.”
Defender Alex Elder was a team-mate of McIlroy with both Burnley and Northern Ireland and a member of Burnley’s 1959/60 League Championship-winning team:
“He was my idol when I was a kid. He came from a village about four miles away from me.
“I followed him to Burnley and I was in the same digs in Stoney Street with Mrs Hesketh that he was in 10 years before. My wife, Rona, and I then later baby-sat for his children.
“He was a mate, a colleague and a team-mate.
“The word legend is used very lightly but he was a true legend and I’m sure everyone in Burnley will remember him with the highest regard.
“He was a great ambassador for the club and the town and will be greatly missed.
“And with the Irish team had laughs all over the world together.
“His artistry and wizardry were something special. With Jimmy Adamson and Harry Potts, he was responsible for adapting Burnley’s team to make us the side we were.
“Although we knew he had been poorly for some time, this is a sad day and both our hearts go out to his family.
“RIP Jimmy and safe journey.”
Forward Jimmy Robson was also a team-mate of McIlroy’s and another key member of the side Harry Potts led to the league title and the FA Cup Final in 1962:
“He was the best player that ever played at Turf Moor and it was a pleasure to play with him.
“I remember I was 17 and he went on international duty with Ireland and I had to replace him. Everyone must have wondered what was going on, as no-one could fill Jimmy McIlroy's boots, let alone a 17-year-old.
“He was an experienced player and I was a young lad but he always helped me.
“We had great times at Burnley, winning the league, playing in Europe and getting into an FA Cup final.
“Like me, he stayed in Burnley and I used to see him around walking in Scott Park in later years. It's a sad day for Burnley Football Club.”
Stan Ternent arrived at Burnley as a young player when McIlroy was still gracing Turf Moor and was later a promotion-winning manager of the Clarets in a six-year spell:
“He was one of the best players Burnley had and one of the best I have ever seen, no doubt about it, and a lovely person as well.
“He and Jimmy Adamson were the catalysts for that great side Burnley had, although they had some very good players alongside. They were nearly all internationals, which speaks for itself.
“Like a lot us who came down to Burnley at an impressionable age it became our home. It’s a sad day and he will be well remembered by everyone.”
Current manager Sean Dyche, who has led Burnley to some of their best times since McIlroy left Turf Moor in 1963:
“While not knowing Jimmy personally, I am acutely aware of his fantastic achievements with Burnley Football Club and Northern Ireland, and the relationship he had with this club over many years.
“I have learned from many people that he was a top, top player from a fantastic generation in our history.
“It’s always a sad day when we lose someone so closely associated with the club and our thoughts go out to everyone who was close to Jimmy. A true great in Burnley’s history.”
Club vice-chairman Barry Kilby remembers McIlroy as a player and was chairman of the Clarets when the east stand at Turf Moor was named in his honour:
“Jimmy was an absolute Burnley legend and someone I had the pleasure to witness as a player and then got to know as a friend over the years.
“He was such a skilful ball player with that little burst of speed that got him away from defenders.
“We won the Football League and went into Europe and Jimmy and his team-mates were flag-bearers for the club at that time.
“He was also a full international who appeared at the 1958 World Cup, one of only a few Burnley players ever to achieve that feat.
“His name is absolutely synonymous with that great era in our history and in later life he became our club president and continued to have that connection with the club.
“Until recently he was still a regular visitor, before he finally and sadly became incapacitated. He truly was one of Burnley’s greats, if not the greatest.”