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In March 1950, despite looking to splash out on an experienced centre-forward, Burnley instead paid Glentoran a sum of £5,000 for their 18-year-old inside forward Jim McIlroy. It wasn’t an exciting signing; supporters had been hoping for a new man who was ready to go straight into the first team.

As it happened, the signing came after the transfer deadline and so he wasn’t permitted to feature in the first team during the remainder of the season, but by the end of the month he had made his Burnley debut in a Central League game at Turf Moor against Chesterfield Reserves.

Burnley outclassed Chesterfield in a game which produced many exciting incidents, much good football and, above all, five goals as Burnley won 4-1. The attack was in great form and played havoc with the Chesterfield defence. It was a display in keeping with a team aspiring for championship honours.

jimmy mac 001The main attraction for the spectators was, undoubtedly, newcomer McIlroy and, according to Scouter for the Burnley Express, he did not disappoint. He was constantly in the limelight and his debut, Scouter said, was more than satisfactory. At one point it seemed it was McIlroy v Kennaway, the Chesterfield goalkeeper, who denied him a debut goal numerous times with some outstanding saves.

McIlroy might have been the attraction, but the stars of the show were Liam O’Neill and Roy Stephenson. O’Neill worked and schemed his way through the Chesterfield defence whilst Stephenson carried the attack on the opposite flank with bewildering speed and clever footwork.

After making saves from the wing pair and McIlroy, Kennaway was finally beaten on 19 minutes. O’Neill worked the ball down the left wing and then sent a ground cross into centre-forward Alf CLARKE who fired in an unstoppable shot.

Within five minutes it was 2-1. Chesterfield defender Leivers brought down McIlroy in the penalty box and Harold SPENCER made no mistake from the spot. That was followed by a brilliant piece of individualism from RAINE who beat Spencer in the challenge and tipped the ball past Joe McNulty.

It was 3-1 by half time with our third coming on the half hour; a grand shot from Harold RUDMAN. It had been a very good half for Burnley and the crowd were hoping for lots more goals in the second half.

The fourth, and final, goal came ten minutes into the half. Stephenson and Clarke combined down the right. It led to Stephenson lifting the ball across goal for the unmarked Terry LYONS to head home a lovely goal.

Burnley remained on top but couldn’t beat the impressive Kennaway again  and so the game finished 4-1. The crowd left enthused with the name McIlroy on everyone’s lips. They’d enjoyed his first game in Burnley colours.

The teams were;

Burnley Reserves: Joe McNulty, Jock Aird, Harold Mather, Harold Rudman, Harold Spencer, Len Martindale, Roy Stephenson, Jim McIlroy, Alf Clarke, Liam O’Neill, Terry Lyons.

Chesterfield Reserves: Kennaway, Flockett, Peck, Holmes, Leivers, Urquhart, Costello, Foster, Raine, Bacci, Wilson.

Attendance: 8,646.

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