Life after Jimmy Mac!
When Jimmy McIlroy was transferred to Stoke, most ardent Burnley fans were predicting a serious decline, but they would be wrong, Jimmy McIlroy was an integral part of Burnleys history, but one man doesn't make a team.
Bob Lord went on record saying "When you only have one customer, you have to take a bad price. We only had one customer and yet got a good price" strange thing to go on record saying when only a few months earlier Lord said McIlroy had a job for life at Turf Moor.
On the 28th March 1964 Jimmy made his return to Turf Moor with his new team Stoke City, when asked by the Burnley Express in the build up to the game McIlroy was quoted saying " I was asked if i wanted to play at Turf Moor or give it a miss in view of the Easter program. My reply to our manager was that i did want to play or they would call me a coward" ??
1963-64 was not a successful season for Burnley, however it would be the spate of injuries not the absence of McIlroy would be the main reason!, in the first seven weeks of the season Burnley had 22 injured players in a squad of 35! i don't care how good your squad is, NO team could make a serious championship challenge with so many of your first team squad unavailable!
To name a few of the injuries, Alex Elder out with a fractured ankle, Ray Pointer and Willie Irvine would also be out for up to three months, John Connelly had an appendix operation, youngster Bellamy and terrier O'Neil would also miss the start of the season.
It wasn't just the injuries which condemned Burnley to a 9th place finish, poor by Burnleys recent standards. The season would see the last games for legends Meredith, Joyce and Connelly as Burnley sell to survive policy was still a massive talking point around Turf Moor.
(Above :Jimmy Mac making his first return to Turf Moor for Stoke city)
But with all the unease with the injuries and the sales of class players, Burnleys conveyor belt kept churning out replacements, Willie Morgan, Arthur Bellamy, Willie Irvine and Brian O'Neil, the future is still very bright.
The season was the last for Championship winning skipper Jimmy Adamson, who won the footballer of the year in 1962, and was approached by the Football Association to become the England manager ( he refused and the post went to Sir Alf Ramsey), and he was also offered to become the Coach of the USA, and offered a princely sum of £2.000 for a twelve month contract with "very generous expenses", Jimmy turned them down too stating that " I'm happy at Burnley and i want to stay there.", the strange thing is Potts only used Adamson in 12 league and cup games?
Burnley would be going through a transitional period with Chairman Bob Lord reluctant to pay for players, and leaving an uneasy feeling around Turf Moor. Top half finish just wasn't good enough for the faithful!
A funny story (well it made me laugh), when Burnley went away to Nottingham Forest for the last away game of the season, the Forest fans who were slightly disappointed at the 3-1 defeat at the hands of Burnley, decided to throw stones at the team coach! only for Brian Miller, Adam Blacklaw, Brian Talbut, Alex Elder and Potts himself getting off the coach and holding the culprits till the police turned up and apprehended them. Miller, Talbot and Blacklaw would put the fear of God into any one if you rub them up the wrong way, I can just imagine the Forest fans faces when they saw the size of Burnley's players when they dismounted the coach.
A season which for once wasn't full of promise at the start, but by the end, the youngsters who had been thrown in, did Burnley proud. and a 7-2 win on the last day of the campaign would see all Burnley fans go on their summer jolly's with a smile on their faces.
The future was different with more questions than answers, but it was bright. Potts was rebuilding with the tried and tested policy, of bringing through the youth.
1963 - 1964 Division One