ADAM BLACKLAW 

Date and Place of Birth

2nd September 1937 - Aberdeen

died 28th February 2010

 

Transfers to and from Burnley

junior then pro - October 1954

to Blackburn Rovers - July 1967 (£15,000)

 

First and Last Burnley Games

Cardiff City (h) - 22nd December 1956

 

Stoke City (a) - 27th December 1966

 

Other Clubs

Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool

 

 

Burnley Career Stats

 

Season League FA Cup League Cup Others Total
                     
  apps gls apps gls apps gls apps gls apps gls
1956/57 8 - 5 - - - - - 13 -
1957/58 3 - - - - - - - 3 -
1958/59 15 - - - - - - - 15 -
1959/60 41 - 8 - - - - - 49 -
1960/61 41 - 7 - 7 - 5 - 60 -
1961/62 42 - 8 - - - - - 50 -
1962/63 42 - 3 - - - - - 45 -
1963/64 42 - 5 - - - - - 47 -
1964/65 34 - 5 - - - - - 39 -
1965/66 27 - 3 - 3 - - - 33 -
1966/67 23 - - - 2 - 4 - 29 -
                     
Total 318 - 44 - 12 - 9 - 383 -

 

Profile by Tony Scholes

 

For a lot of fans their first visit to Turf Moor is an unforgettable one, the date, opponents and result etched in the memory for ever. Although I'd been allowed to serve an apprenticeship on the reserves I can always recall my first ever first team game with some fondness.

It was played on 15th October 1960 and the visitors that afternoon were Manchester United. We took the lead in ten minutes and went on to win 5-3 with goals from Pointer, Connelly(2), Joyce and McIlroy.

The team that day was: Adam Blacklaw, John Angus, Alex Elder, Walter Joyce, Jimmy Adamson, Brian Miller, John Connelly, Jimmy McIlroy, Ray Pointer, Jimmy Robson and Brian Pilkington.

There are a lot of names there to choose a suitable hero for a young primary school lad who could finally lay claim to being a Burnley supporter. There was the talent of Jimmy Mac, the goals of Pointer and Robson; you could almost choose any one of them. For some reason, and I don't know it, I chose the goalkeeper. Adam Blacklaw was, is, and always will be my hero.

I can't get into arguments about how he compared with Colin McDonald simply because I never saw McDonald in first team action, but I can compare him with every other goalkeeper I've seen play for the Clarets since. We've had some good ones, some not so good, and with no disrespect some downright bad goalkeepers, but Blacklaw remains the best I've ever seen.

Aberdonian Blacklaw was a centre forward in schools football before being persuaded by a teacher to try his hand in goal. Maybe he wasn't very good at centre forward or maybe the teacher knew exactly what he was doing, but from then on he became a goalkeeper.

Such was his progress he went on to represent his country at schoolboy level against England. The game was played at Leicester City's Filbert Street and they became one of a long queue of clubs trying to sign him after a superb performance.

Burnley moved quickly and got their man and Blacklaw joined the ground staff in 1954 and by October of that year, just after his seventeenth birthday he signed his first professional deal with the club.

That certainly didn't win him a first team place, that coveted debut was still over two years away. Burnley were well served by McDonald but when he was injured in December 1956 there was finally a debut for Blacklaw in a home game against Cardiff just before Christmas.

He played eight times before McDonald returned and in the following season he added three more appearances, but it looked as though any chance of a regular place in the team was some way away with McDonald now also establishing himself as England's number one.

However, all changed in March 1959. McDonald broke his leg at Dalymount Park playing for the Football League against the League of Ireland and Blacklaw again stepped in. Little did he know then but McDonald would never return to the first team and the Scot was finally the number one choice.

He played the remainder of the season and then in the following season missed just one game as the Clarets lifted the Championship. And he played a major part with a number of outstanding displays in a team that became the second Burnley team to be crowned Champions of England.

Such was his form that he was finally called up by his country again, this time for the Under-23 team for whom he played twice.

In the following season he missed just two games as we went to two semi-finals and a quarter-final as well as another outstanding season in the league. He turned in what many consider to be his most memorable performance in France as we survived our European Cup tie against favourites Reims.

That season he twice made saves which left his unbelieving opponents so stunned they stood in admiration. One of them was German Uwe Seeler in the Turf Moor leg of the tie with Hamburg, the other Tom McAnearney of Sheffield Wednesday in the drawn FA Cup quarter-final at Hillsborough. What a performance that was from him with one Sunday paper proclaiming it was Sheffield Wednesday 0 Adam Blacklaw 0.

Now approaching his mid-20s he was just getting better and better and for the next three seasons didn't miss a single game. He was surely one of the best keepers in the country by now and yet he had to wait until the summer of 1963 to win his first full cap.

He was only capped three times at full international level by the Scots who seemed obsessed with using goalkeepers plying their trade north of the border. But with internationals played on the same day as league games it did mean we never had to play without him.

Blacklaw had missed just two league games between March 1959 and March 1965 but after a 5-1 hammering at Leeds he lost his place to the up and coming Harry Thomson. In a 2-0 win at Leicester Thomson saved a penalty and went on to retain his place for the rest of the season.

In the following 1965/66 season, Blacklaw regained his place in October and at Leeds as this time we picked up a point in a 1-1 draw. He kept his place for over a year, but after two defeats against Stoke at Christmas 1966, the second a 4-3 reverse at the Victoria Ground, he was again replaced by Thomson.

Adam Blacklaw's days as first team goalkeeper were over. Those games against Stoke proved to be his last, and in the summer of 1967 he left the club in a £15,000 transfer.

He'd played 383 league and cup games for Burnley but he was to have one last moment before signing off. That came in Southern Italy as we beat Napoli in the Fairs Cup. All hell broke loose after the game. Thomson (who had played so well he was named a God in a Green Jersey) got into some kind of skirmish and Adam came to his rescue. He was pushed down some stairs and eventually arrested for his own safety. All we'd done to deserve all this was win.

I knew his time at Burnley was up, and I accepted the fact that my hero was going to move on. I even acknowledged the fact that he might find himself playing outside the First Division. I could not have prepared myself though for what happened as that £15,000 move took him just down the road to Ewood Park.

He played over 100 games for them in the next three years before making his last move in professional football, signing for Blackpool where he remained for just a year. He was alongside Harry Thomson again but this time Blacklaw was very much the supporting goalkeeper.

Thomson was ruled out for one game and Blacklaw stepped in, and I'm forever grateful for that because it ensured my hero didn't bring his league career to an end for Blackburn.

He played non-league football for a while with such as Great Harwood Town and also managed Clitheroe before finally ending his association with the game.

Away from football he ran a newsagents shop on Brunshaw Road, across from the Brunshaw pub, for many years and then returned to Turf Moor as steward at Burnley Cricket Club. From there he moved to a pub in Barnoldswick before retiring.

I've written this before about my hero but will again repeat it. There has often been debate as to who was the better of the two, him or Colin McDonald. As I wrote, I never saw McDonald so I cannot judge.

Brian Miller once told me they couldn't be separated but when I asked Harry Potts he said that he would have always gone for Blacklaw, because Blacklaw was the winner.

And a winner he most definitely was. He was a goalkeeper who rarely had a bad game such was his consistency and in a Burnley side that had such great success. I just wish my hero hadn't made the move he did in 1967.

Adam Blacklaw sadly passed away at the age of 72 on 28th February 2010.

 

Links

Blacklaw to be capped by Scotland (22/10/09)

Adam Blacklaw dies (01/03/10)

Farwell Adam - My Hero (01/03/10)