Bob Lord named one of most controversial figures

Kevin Robinson June 6, 2012
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Kevin Robinson
I can't help but suspect Lord would be quite pleased ... 3 years ago

Top Football blog twohundredpercent has named Bob Lord in a list of football’s most controversial chairmen.

The butcher controlled the Clarets between 1955 and 1981 and is undoubtedly the most famous in the Club’s history – his reign becoming somewhat the stuff of legend at Turf Moor.

Twohundredpercent are collecting a list of the most controversial chairpeople that the beautiful game has seen.

It comes at a time when those in control of football clubs are arguably causing more controversy than ever – the ongoing Venkys comedy, Manchester United fans’ continued fight against the Glazers, Roman Abramovich’s obsession with new managers – not to mention today’s news of the Cardiff Dragons.

The accolade also comes days after Barry Kilby was replaced by Mike Garlick and John B. Whilst clear parallels can be made between Kilby and Lord’s reigns – they were both die-hard Clarets that oversaw two of the most successful periods in the Club’s history – the difference in their characters couldn’t be more different.

In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to link ultra-professional Barry Kilby to anything remotely controversial.

“When we talk of the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers that ran our football clubs as their own fiefdoms for most of the twentieth century,” twohundredpercent opens, “There is perhaps one man that, above all others, has come to be considered the personification of the genre: Bob Lord.”

Lord’s 26-year spell at the top was never short of controversy. In 1962 he persuaded debt-ridden Accrington Stanley that resignation from the Football League was their only option – an act many feel was purely an attempt to wipe out the Club to benefit his own.

He is perhaps best known for famously banning television cameras from Turf Moor. Arguing passionately that television coverage would ruin the game, he spoke at a Variety Club function: “We have to stand up against a move to get soccer on the cheap by the Jews who run television.”

He would also fight strongly against commercialism and sponsorship in football – one wonders what he would make of today’s game.

It is felt by many that his brass attitude to such changes in the landscape of the game was a major contributory factor to the Club’s decline from champions of England to the Fourth Division as money began to play a bigger role in the sport. Burnley were left behind as other clubs began to rake in the profits.

Within Burnley, perhaps his most controversial moment came in 1963 when he forced the Club’s greatest player of all time, Jimmy McIlroy, out of Turf Moor.

To further anger supporters, Martin Dobson was sold in 1974 to pay for the construction of the Bob Lord Stand. Furious fans refused to address it as such and it was known unofficially for some time as the Martin Dobson Stand.

He would later make an enemy in Ken Bates, who he refused the opportunity to invest in the Club. Bates went on the offensive but Lord would, as ever, stick to his guns.

“If he wants to take this to the Football League, Mr Bates can do. If he wants to take it to the Football Association, he can do. If he wants to take it to the Board of Trade, he can do. In fact, he can take the matter just where he likes as far as we are concerned,” said Lord.

He was certainly a massive character and personality and he undoubtedly had many, many more enemies than anyone at Turf Moor would achieve before or since. It was this strong, abrasive, arrogant and traditionalist personality that allowed him to oversee both the Club’s golden hour, but also its darkest.

“Over the course of three decades,” twohundredpercent concludes, “He entered into wars of words with rival club chairmen, the Football League and the FA, supporters and journalists whilst climbing the greasy pole, almost to the very summit of English football administration.

“Thirty years after his death, it seems unlikely that we will see too many of his type again.”

He joins Graham White of Colne Dynamoes in the list, who bankrolled the Club to the brink of stardom but forgot to finance the infrastructure that would eventually be his and the Club’s downfall. It’s an interesting feature, keep track of the additions at twohundredpercent.

Should Bob Lord be celebrated or hated at Turf Moor? What would Bob Lord make of Burnley Football Club today? Comment on the right.

1 comment
  • Kevin Robinson
    Kevin Robinson

    I can’t help but suspect Lord would be quite pleased to make this list.

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