Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Wednesday, 16th May 2012
Date and Place of Birth
1st April 1928 - Bolton
died 25th January 2011
Transfers to and from Burnley
amateur then pro - August 1950
to Sunderland - December 1955 (£12,000)
First and Last Burnley Games
Middlesbrough (h) - 2nd September 1950
Blackpool (h) - 22nd August 1955
Sunderland, Stockport County, Bury, Halifax Town
Burnley Career Stats
|Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Others||Total|
Profile by Tony Scholes
Bill Holden is amongst those former players I didn't have the opportunity to see play but I learned of as I quizzed my dad and granddad about all things Claret and Blue.
Holden left Turf Moor almost five years before I saw my first game, this after a successful spell with the Clarets during which he was a regular goalscorer.
Burnley was his first club, but we were fortunate to get him once he'd been invited to a trial at Everton in 1949. He was scouted whilst playing for Bolton Schools but that trial at Goodison Park came to nothing and he was recommended to Burnley by former player Jack Marshall.
Burnley were impressed with what they saw and signed him in September 1949 as an amateur. He impressed at reserve team level and that led to him winning a professional contract and a first team debut in August 1950.
Players such as Ray Harrison, whose goal took us to the 1947 FA Cup Final, and Jack Billingham had contested the number 9 shirt but with both having gone it was Holden who stepped up to fill the coveted centre-forward position, and he did not disappoint.
It took him eight games to score his first goal in that 1950/51 season, getting off the mark with two in a 5-1 home win against Charlton Athletic, but it was a season that saw him lead the scoring charts at Turf Moor with 12 league goals, one more than inside forward Billy Morris, and in five seasons in the first team he was to be leading goalscorer in three of them.
Morris edged back above him in the following season, a season that ended in real disappointment for Holden when he broke his leg in a 4-1 defeat at Aston Villa forcing him to miss the remaining seven games of the season.
There were fears that he might struggle on his return but he was back for the opening game of the 1952/53 season and had his best ever season, scoring a total of 24 goals in league and cup. Four of those goals came in April 1953 in a 5-1 win against Sunderland. He had two other hat tricks during his career at Burnley but this was the only time he scored four, and Sunderland must have kept a close eye on him after that.
Such was his form in that season that he came to the attention of the England selectors. He was called up to play for England 'B' against Scotland at Easter Road, home of Hibs, in Edinburgh. He lined up alongside Burnley team mates Jimmy Adamson and Tommy Cummings and against another Burnley player Jock Aird. None of the England trio were ever able to take the final step to a full England cap.
Cummings captained that England team and Holden got both England goals in a 2-2 draw, and yet it proved to be his first and last international call up at any level.
Bill was never able to repeat his goalscoring exploits of the 1952/53 season but he had two more successful seasons for Burnley before, somewhat surprisingly, losing his place to new signing Peter McKay at the beginning of the1955/56 season, this despite having been leading goalscorer in the previous season. He played the first two games of that season and they proved to be his last for the club.
Aware that he was unlikely to win back his place he handed in a transfer request. It was granted and he signed for Sunderland in December 1955 for £12,000.
He never settled at Roker Park and was part of a Sunderland team that suffered relegation. He was there for less than a year before returning to the North West in a cut priced deal that saw him join Stockport County, then in Division Three North.
The goals started to flow again at Edgeley Park where he played for two and a half years before transferring to Bury. There his goals saw them win promotion in 1961 to the old Second Division as champions but a year later Bill signed for Halifax Town and ended his professional career there although he did subsequently play non-league football for Rugby Town and Hereford United.
In later life he retained a real affection for Burnley FC and spent his later years in Morecambe where he suffered from ill health. Bill Holden sadly passed away in January 2011 at the age of 82.