John Jackson

Last updated : 18 February 2008 By Dave Thomas
In a Sunday Telegraph article in 1983 John revealed that he became a director of the club when he simply phoned Bob Lord and suggested the idea.

Well-known as a barrister, in fact he had once been a bookmaker. Whilst reading the Burnley Express one day he saw a bookmaker's shop for sale. He bought it for just £25 and became Johnny Edgar. When he eventually sold it, the proceeds paid for his law course. This was a story he was proud of.

As Chairman following Lord, he saw himself as first amongst equals governing by consent rather than a Bob Lord style dictator. In just months he refreshed and transformed the club after the final near bankrupt days of Mr Lord.

In his own words "The harsh reality was we were near the bottom of the 3rd Division, at our lowest position ever, under severe financial pressure with dwindling gates and a disenchanted public. The next four months were filled with instant decisions; the reduction of entrance prices, the recognition of the supporters' club, the reorganisation of finances and more importantly our public relations. The results on the field were dramatic, only one defeat in 35 games, combined with a meteoric rise up the table. Nothing could go wrong. Promotion was achieved at Southend. A bright future awaited. Perhaps on reflection it was all too easy. Thereafter it went wrong, with a vengeance."

His term in office encompassed the whole range of achievements and emotions. He had the satisfaction of sorting out the affairs of the club after Bob Lord; he experienced the success of a promotion year; he twice experienced the gloom of relegation, and in between them he was chairman during the John Bond season. Bond was very much John's appointment and though it ended badly it was so close to being a success. Until the injury to Kevin Reeves, Burnley were indeed on track for success. But once Reeves retired more or less in mid-season, Hamilton's goals also dried up, and it was not to be. The word 'tragic' would not be out of place.

Football is full of the 'if' word. If Reeves had stayed fit, then Bond might have succeeded and John Jackson would have experienced promotion a second time and history would have been so different.

During that first sad relegation season, there were the two glorious Cup runs with nights of glory at Tottenham and then at home to Liverpool. How could one season contain such contrasts? If we fans felt baffled, then what must he as chairman have felt? Then there was a second relegation as we slipped to the Fourth Division under yet another manager. At that point he handed the chairmanship to Frank Teasdale.

He referred to the two seasons after relegation as a "nightmare." If such things are bad enough for supporters, for a chairman they are doubly so, especially for a chairman in love with his club.

Our club is now over 125 years old and John Jackson takes his place in its history. It takes a special man to take over as chairman of a struggling football club, and that is what Burnley was when he took over. Success was brief, and after that he suffered the slings and arrows that come the way of those who put their head above the parapet. In No Nay Never he described his obsession with Burnley and how it had affected himself and his family for 40 years. He stood behind the goals in the forties, felt he was near to God when Jimmy Mac bought his parents house, and then he sold his own first home to Jimmy Robson. In the 70s he began buying shares and then joked that he spent more time trying to convince Bob Lord to let him on the board, than he did defending his clients. He became a director on 1976 and chairman in November of '81.

On the occasions I met him I sat spellbound by his story-telling. He could talk for hours about the club and he had a wicked sense of humour and turn of phrase. So many Burnley servants have passed away recently and sadly it is now John Jackson's turn to join them. Thankyou John Jackson for the years you gave to Burnley Football Club. You will not be forgotten.