Bob Lord diaries found
By Tony Scholes
Updated Friday, 1st April 2011
Many of the great unanswered questions about Burnley Football Club and its history may soon be answered.
Having met Bob Lord's daughters Margaret and Barbara several times Dave has long suspected the existence of Bob Lord's diaries. "A collector I have known for a while passed away recently and his widow knowing of my interest asked did I want some boxes of old Burnley rubbish that she wanted to get rid of. Of course I said yes and you can imagine my amazement when I found the diaries in one of the boxes."
There are several volumes and all are clearly written and they go back to the days when Lord first became interested in becoming a director of Burnley Football Club. Although the first entries begin in the early 50s, preliminary examinations show that there are many references to Bob's early life in Burnley and the establishment of his business.
"I have searched for these diaries since I first met the Lord daughters. His story fascinates me," says Dave. "He dates back to a time when the British Empire was marked in red in school atlases, when Britain really was Great and he was proud of all that was British. This affected all his thinking. The diaries confirm that he was spellbound when the great team of Halley, Boyle and Watson, brought the FA Cup back to Burnley. His favourite player really was Bob Kelly. He even recorded the name of his first horse that pulled his cart selling meat round the streets of Burnley. Believe it or not the horse was called Kitchener."
Maybe the great question that everyone wants to be answered is: why was Jimmy McIlroy sold? What was the real reason? The answer is astonishing, says Dave but will not be revealed until the diaries are edited and published. Another mystery is that of the Lowerhouse Land Deal. Exactly what did happen? How much money did he make? Many of Bob Lord's deals that he made whilst he was a Mason are recorded in the pages. His dealings with Louis Edwards of Manchester United are fascinating. Edwards was also a butcher. There were long thought to be shady deals and that Edwards had some kind of hold over him that resulted in the sales of John Connelly and later Willie Morgan to Manchester United. Exactly why did he fall out so badly with Jimmy Adamson?
"If Bob Lord was candid and blunt in his daily life, he was even more so in the privacy of his diary pages. His opinions on all kinds of events, matters and people are utterly compelling. Details of transfers, his dealings with fellow directors; his money problems are all there," says Dave. "Not to mention the people he served with on the Football League Management Committee and the rows he had with them. He could not abide, for example, the hotel meals they had after they had concluded their business. So more than once he had fish and chips delivered to the hotel dining room."
"The club has begged me to let them have the diaries so they can be placed in one of the glass cabinets but I have said no," explained Dave. "I feel they belong to all of us, the ordinary rank and file fans, and as soon as I possibly can the first volume will be released. Of course some of the material will be too sensitive to reproduce, his opinions of the French for example, and Derek Dougan."
Dave says he has already been offered a substantial sum for the volumes. A conservative estimate puts their value at around the half million mark.
"But what they also reveal," Dave confided, "is that he had a kind side to him. He made donations to various institutions that he did not publicise and he had a fondness for particular players who he idolised - Steve Kindon, Ralph Coates and Brian O Neil. Of Kindon he writes: "Such a shame the lad cannot shay his eshs's. On the page where he writes about the sale of Brian O Neil there are what I think are tear stains,"added Dave. "It was another of those secret meetings that he loved. This one was up on the moors somewhere above Burnley when Lord took O Neil up in his limo to meet Ted Bates the Southampton manager. O Neil never suspected and thought that Bob Lord wanted his advice on some sheep that he wanted for his meat business. O Neil had a smallholding in which he kept pigs and knew a fair bit about animal husbandry."
"It's tempting to drop everything I'm doing now and get started. They're mouthwatering. I can't believe I've got them," drooled Dave. "You dream of something like this."
Anyone interested in being a patron, subscriber, or sponsor should get in touch with Dave at email@example.com. It really is possible that publication could be the football book sensation of the decade. Sponsors will have the opportunity to invest £1,000 in the project, patrons £500 and subscribers £100. To get the publication started Dave is initially looking for 10 sponsors, 10 patrons but any number of subscribers. All profits will then be donated to the Clarets Mad Youth Foundation and the target for Volume One is exactly a year from now, April 1st, 2012.