Our Turf Moor Heroes – Jerry Dawson
In January 2017 the first set of player photographs were placed on the wall of the Bob Lord Stand with further photographs to follow on the Jimmy McIlroy and Longside Stands.
The twelve installed on the Bob Lord Stand cover the pre-war period and the first period of the post-war era up to the winning of the Football League in 1960. These, and the subsequent players, were all chosen by supporters during an online vote in August 2015.
This section of Up the Clarets will feature all of the 31 selected players, starting with the first of them, goalkeeper Jerry Dawson, the only goalkeeper to have made it into the selected group.
Jerry was a local man from Cliviger born in March 1888 and like most hopeful footballers of the time he combined playing the game with work. He was serving his time as an apprentice blacksmith in his home village while his football club of choice was Portsmouth Rovers, just a few miles away towards Todmorden.
He turned in some very good performances for them and was invited to Turf Moor for a trial during which he played a few reserve games. The club were delighted with him and he duly signed as a full time professional in early 1907, still a few weeks short of his 19th birthday.
It wasn’t long before he got his chance in the first team. On 13th April 1907, he replaced regular goalkeeper Billy Green in a home game against Stockport. He didn’t have much to do in what was a 3-0 win for Burnley but he’d made his mark and early in the following season he displaced Green as Burnley’s first choice goalkeeper.
He was soon attracting the attention of the international selectors. In 1910 he represented the Football League against the Scottish League at Ewood Park and a year later played in the return fixture at Ibrox where he turned in a superlative performance that earned him a standing ovation from the partisan Scottish crowd.
Things were improving for Burnley as new players came in and the 1913/14 season proved to be memorable for the club as it was for Dawson as we made our way all the way to the FA Cup Final against Liverpool at Crystal Palace.
What should have been the highlight of his career proved to be a day of disappointment. Dawson was injured in the semi-final against Sheffield United at Old Trafford which ended goalless. Three days later he missed the replay at Goodison Park. He was replaced by Ron Sewell as Burnley won 1-0 with a goal from captain Tommy Boyle.
The final was over three weeks away and Dawson came back from injury to play in the league but suffered another injury in the last of the games prior to the final. Although he considered himself to be fit, he wasn’t certain he would be able to play the full game and so told manager John Haworth he would not play in the final with Sewell playing in the 1-0 win against Liverpool, the only occasion we’ve won the FA Cup.
Once fit, he was first choice again until football came to a halt because of World War I, but when football resumed, Dawson was still very much the number one despite now having gone past his 30th birthday.
If he missed out on the FA Cup, he wasn’t to miss out on winning the league. He played all but three of the games in the club’s record breaking season.
Finally, in October 1921, and at the age of 33, he was called up to play for his country. He made his debut on 22nd October in a 1-1 draw against Ireland in Belfast and in April of the following year was in the team that lost 1-0 against Scotland at Villa Park. Both were Home Internationals and were his only two caps.
Incredibly he went on to enjoy another five seasons in the first team at Burnley before missing four of the last five games of the 1925/26 season. When he was replaced by George Sommerville at the start of the 1926/27 season it looked to have brought an end to his playing career, but there were to be two more appearances.
The first of them came in April of that season, a 2-1 home win against West Ham, but almost two years later, on Christmas Day 1928, he returned for one final game against Liverpool at home. Although he conceded two goals, Burnley won the game 3-2.
It was Dawson’s 568th league and cup appearance for Burnley, more appearances than any other player who has played for us to the current day. He was less than three months away from his 41st birthday at the time and only Len Smelt, a team mate in the 1921 title winning team, has played for us at an older age.
He continued at Turf Moor for some time afterwards, as a member of the coaching staff at Burnley FC and as a Lancashire League batsman with Burnley CC.
The great Jerry Dawson continued to live in Cliviger, and was often seen walking to and from Burnley from his home, before passing away in August 1970 at the age of 82.Share this page :