New biography on legendary Burnley FC chairman Bob Lord set to be 'story that has never been told'

Authors Dave Thomas ( right) and Mike Smith in the grounds of Towneley Hall where they are hoping to stage an exhibition of about their new biography on Bob Lord.
Authors Dave Thomas ( right) and Mike Smith in the grounds of Towneley Hall where they are hoping to stage an exhibition of about their new biography on Bob Lord.
Share this article

The authors of a new book about one of the greatest figures in football history have promised to reveal the real man behind the public figure.

Dave Thomas and Mike Smith, the authors of “Bob Lord of Burnley – the biography of football’s most controversial chairman” have said their book will be “the story that has never been told before”.

Bob Lord in the boardroom at Turf Moor just after the opening of the Bob Lord stand in 1974.

Bob Lord in the boardroom at Turf Moor just after the opening of the Bob Lord stand in 1974.

Known for being belligerent, argumentative, blunt, autocratic and often cruel, this new book gets to the heart of what made Bob Lord, who was the chairman of Burnley Football Club, the man he was.

Both authors are experts in the field of books on Burnley Football Club. This is Dave’s 20th book and one that he has always wanted to write.

A retired headteacher and lifelong Claret, Dave has written acclaimed biographies on Jimmy Adamson and Harry Potts.

Mike is a retired lecturer from the University of Manchester and has written two books that specialise in the early days of Burnley Football Club.

Bob Lord (far right) with the rest of the board at Burnley FC

Bob Lord (far right) with the rest of the board at Burnley FC

Born in 1908 Lord was the son of a barber who started his own company as a butcher at the age of 19 and grew the business to eventually own 14 shops.

An avid follower of Burnley FC, Lord became a board member and eventually chairman in 1955. The early years of his chairmanship were the most successful in the club’s history.

Following the appointment of Harry Potts as manager in 1958, Burnley were league champions in 1960, and reached the FA Cup Final in 1962. The development of Gawthorpe training ground made Burnley the envy of all the other clubs.

The club became renowned for their youth policy, which yielded players such as Jimmy Robson, Willie Morgan and Leighton James. But as football changed and the city clubs grew richer, Burnley could not afford to keep up without selling its best players.

A new biography on the formidable Bob Lord, former chairman of Burnley FC promises to reveal new information about his life.

A new biography on the formidable Bob Lord, former chairman of Burnley FC promises to reveal new information about his life.

And the football world was left stunned by the sale of Jimmy McIlroy, seen as Burnley’s greatest player.

A man ahead of his time, Lord’s contributions, thoughts, ideas and visions shaped Burnley Football Club and his prophecies are evident today.

But the years from 1976 until Lord’s death in 1981 saw the club sink into near insolvency and as support was dwindling he was powerless to stop it.

Dave and Mike believe their book will tell the “complete story” of Lord’s achievements, beginning with the horse and cart he bought for £23, his rise to the board, the growth of his business, his control of the club, his confrontations, pronouncements but also his generosity to his players, a side of the man that many people may be unaware of.

Mike said: “It is a story of pride and ambition and achievement but also a story of how dreams can fade, the best of plans can crumble to abuse, and cries for his resignation.”

At the end of his life Lord felt betrayed when he was replaced as chairman at a meeting that he was too ill to attend.

He ordered his daughter to burn all his documents and letters and also that his funeral cortege should not drive by Turf Moor.

The finishing touches are being put to the book which will be published in July.