Jimmy McIlroy

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Jimmy McIlroy
Personal information
Full nameJames McIlroy [1]
Date of birth(1931-10-25)25 October 1931 [1]
Place of birth Lambeg, Northern Ireland [1]
Date of death 20 August 2018(2018-08-20) (aged 86)
Position(s) Forward/Attacking Midfielder
Senior career*
1949–1950 Glentoran 18 (8)
1950–1963 Burnley 439 (116)
1963–1965 Stoke City 98 (16)
1965–1967 Oldham Athletic 39 (1)
National team
1951–1965 Northern Ireland 55 (10)
Teams managed
1966–1968 Oldham Athletic
1970 Bolton Wanderers
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

James McIlroy MBE (25 October 1931 – 20 August 2018) was a Northern Ireland international footballer, who played for Glentoran, Burnley, Stoke City and Oldham Athletic. He was regarded as one of Burnley's greatest players, having played 497 matches and scoring 131 goals. [1] [2] McIlroy also managed Oldham Athletic and Bolton Wanderers.




McIlroy was born in Lambeg, County Antrim and he was introduced to football at an early age as his father, Harry played for Lisburn Distillery and his uncle, Willie played for Portadown. [2] After leaving school McIlroy played for Glentoran before joining Burnley in March 1950 for £7,000. He soon cemented his reputation as one of the finest scheming inside forwards since World War II. [2] He was dubbed as the 'Brain' of Burnley and was a very composed passer of the ball only releasing it when he was sure of finding a teammate. His neat footwork made him a crowd favourite at Turf Moor and indeed for the Northern Ireland national team where he made 55 caps. [2] He helped Burnley win the First Division in 1959–60 and reach the FA Cup Final in 1962, losing 3–1 to Tottenham Hotspur. After 497 matches for the "Clarets" scoring 131 goals, McIlory was allowed to leave for Stoke City for a cut price £25,000, which came as a shock to the Burnley fans who branded chairman Bob Lord 'insane'. [2]

Stoke City

McIlroy joined Tony Waddington's Stoke who at the time had a collection of experienced veterans with the likes of Stanley Matthews, Dennis Viollet, Jackie Mudie and Don Ratcliffe. [2] He arrived at Stoke with the side top of the table but his debut for Stoke was a disaster as Stoke crashed to a 6–0 defeat at Norwich City. [2] Regardless Stoke continued their push for promotion and with McIlroy's intelligent passing featuring heavily they claimed the Second Division title in 1962–63. [2] He scored 12 goals in 1963–64 as Stoke established themselves in the top tier, he also played in the 1964 League Cup Final as Stoke lost 4–3 Leicester City. [2] His final match for the "Potters" was against Burnley on 27 December 1965 leaving to become manager of Oldham Athletic. [2]

Later career

In January 1966 he moved into management after being recruited by new Oldham Athletic chairman Ken Bates. With Oldham struggling at the foot of the Third Division, Oldham paid Stoke £5,000 so that they could register McIlroy as a player again. He signed several former Stoke City team-mates, including Bill Asprey, Alan Philpott, George Kinnell and Keith Bebbington. [2] However McIlroy did not cope well with the pressure of management and resigned after losing 4–0 against Luton Town on the opening day of the 1968–69 season. [2] He returned to Stoke City for a short while as assistant to Waddington before moving to Bolton Wanderers as coach and assistant to Nat Lofthouse. McIlroy had an 18-day spell in charge after Lofthouse's departure but resigned after just two matches on principle after being told by the board to sell players. [2]

After football

He retired to the Burnley area and was a regular attender of Burnley home matches. He was given Freedom of the Borough Burnley in December 2008 [3] and was given a testimonial match by Burnley in 2009. [4]

McIlroy was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2011 New Years Honours List for services to football and to charity, [5] [6] and arranged to receive the honour at Burnley's Turf Moor ground rather than at Buckingham Palace. [7]

In April 2015, the feature-length documentary Spirit of '58 was screened as part of the Belfast Film Festival. It featured Jimmy McIlroy prominently alongside the other surviving players (Billy Bingham, Peter McParland, Billy Simpson and Harry Gregg) as it told the story of Northern Ireland's journey throughout the 1950s under the managership of Peter Doherty, culminating in the 1958 World Cup. [8]

McIllroy died on 20 August 2018 at the age of 86. [9] In a statement Burnley called him "our greatest ever player." [9]

Jimmy McIlroy Stand

Burnley's stadium, Turf Moor, has a stand named in McIlroy's honour. [4] The stadium's eastern stand was rebuilt in the late 1990s after the Beehole End was demolished and was named the "Jimmy McIlroy Stand".

Career statistics

Playing career

Source: [10]

ClubSeasonDivisionLeagueFA CupLeague CupOther [A] Total
Burnley 1950–51 First Division 3051000315
1951–52 First Division2840000284
1952–53 First Division381131004112
1953–54 First Division401731004318
1954–55 First Division4031000413
1955–56 First Division2445100295
1956–57 First Division401353004516
1957–58 First Division361633003919
1958–59 First Division4065100457
1959–60 First Division3266100387
1960–61 First Division33107131514813
1961–62 First Division36158100004416
1962–63 First Division226300000256
Stoke City 1962–63 Second Division 186000000186
1963–64 First Division3294370004312
1964–65 First Division311302000361
1965–66 First Division170002000190
Oldham Athletic 1965–66 Third Division 120000000120
1966–67 Third Division251101000271
1967–68 Third Division2000100030
Career Total576133581616151655151
A.  ^ The "Other" column constitutes appearances and goals in the European Cup and FA Charity Shield.

Managerial career

Oldham Athletic 1 January 19661 August 1968122462650037.70
Bolton Wanderers 1 November 197019 November 19702002000.00


Source: [11]

National teamYearAppsGoals
Northern Ireland 195120

International goals

Scores and results list Northern Ireland's goal tally first.

16 October 1956 Belfast, Northern IrelandFlag of England.svg  England 1–1 1957 British Home Championship
21 May 1957 Belfast, Northern IrelandFlag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 3–0 1958 FIFA World Cup qualification
36 November 1957London, UKFlag of England.svg  England 3–2 1958 British Home Championship
415 January 1958 Belfast, Northern IrelandFlag of Italy.svg  Italy 2–1 1958 FIFA World Cup qualification
515 October 1958 Madrid, SpainFlag of Spain (1945-1977).svg  Spain 2–6 Friendly match
65 November 1958 Glasgow, ScotlandFlag of Scotland.svg  Scotland 2–2 1959 British Home Championship
722 April 1959 Wrexham, WalesFlag of Wales (1959-present).svg  Wales 4–1 1959 British Home Championship
83 May 1961 Athens, Greece Flag of Greece (1822-1978).svg  Greece 1–2 1962 FIFA World Cup qualification
910 May 1961 West Berlin, GermanyFlag of Germany.svg  West Germany 1–2 1962 FIFA World Cup qualification
1022 November 1961London, UKFlag of England.svg  England 1–1 1962 British Home Championship


Stoke City

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Matthews, Tony (1994). The Encyclopaedia of Stoke City. Lion Press. ISBN   0-9524151-0-0.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Stoke City 101 Golden Greats. Desert Islands Books. 2002. ISBN   1-874287554.
  3. "Northern Ireland and Burnley legend Jimmy McIlroy remembered as 'giant of a man'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  4. 1 2 "Former Burnley and Northern Ireland player Jimmy McIlroy dies aged 86". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  5. "No. 59647". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2010. p. 19.
  6. BBC News
  7. Jimmy McIlroy to receive MBE at Burnley's Turf Moor
  8. BBC News
  9. 1 2 "Jimmy McIlroy: Former Burnley & Northern Ireland forward dies". BBC Sport. 20 August 2018. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  10. Jimmy McIlroy at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
  11. McIlroy, Jimmy at National-Football-Teams.com