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Brian Pilkington: 1933 - 2020

Title-winning winger passes away following long health battle

7 February 2020

Burnley Football Club is deeply saddened to hear of the death of club legend Brian Pilkington, aged 86.

Brian, a key member of the Clarets side that was crowned Football League champions in 1960, and a full England international, died peacefully in a care home in Adlington on Friday, following a long battle with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

The winger was initially recommended to Burnley while playing for his hometown team, Leyland Motors.

With a strong interest from various north west clubs, Burnley signed him in April 1951, and Brian continued to work at Leyland Motors as an apprentice coach painter, while still playing for the Reserves in the Central League.

In September, 1952, he made his first team debut against Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor, deputising for Billy Elliott.

Pilkington goal.jpg

Following the departure of Elliott to Sunderland in the summer of 1953, Brian became a regular in the first team.

In February, 1954, Brian was called in to the Royal Air Force and was stationed at RAF Kirkham, but continued to play for Burnley during this period.

Brian was called up to represent his country in October 1954, replacing the injured Tom Finney.

He made his one and only appearance for England, in Belfast against Northern Ireland.

He also played for England 'B' on several occasions, was selected for several Football League representative teams, and also represented the RAF on numerous occasions, until he his departure from the force in February, 1956.

Pilkington 1957.jpg

Brian continued to regularly feature as an outside-left for the Clarets and was instrumental in guiding Burnley to the First Division title.

1960 Champions.jpgBrian, bottom right, with the First Division title-winning squad of 1960

During that momentous 1959/1960 season he missed only one game and contributed 11 goals, including the opening goal at Manchester City in the 2-1 win that crowed Burnley as champions.

Pilkington goal Manchester City.jpgBrian, out of shot, scores the opening goal at Maine Road in May, 1960

The following season, he continued to feature for the Clarets, scoring his last two goals for the club in the victory over Hamburg in the European Cup tie at Turf Moor.

Brian was, however, transferred to Bolton Wanderers in March of that year, where he spent three years.

He later had spells at Bury and Barrow before returning to non-league football.

Brian continued to live in Leyland and became a successful businessman and magistrate.

In 2018 the Lancashire Football Association honoured him by naming a stand after him at their headquarters in Leyland.

In total, Brian made 340 appearances, scoring 77 goals for Burnley.

The thoughts of everyone at Turf Moor are with Brian’s widow, Maureen, son Tim, daughter-in-law Helen and the extended family, including grand-children and great-grandchildren, at this sad time.

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