BARRY KILBY, the man who dared to dream and oversaw Burnley Football Club’s historic promotion to the Premier League, was given a standing ovation on his final match as chairman at Turf Moor.
The popular chairman has retired to battle cancer after 13 years at the helm of the Clarets, during which time the club reached the promised land of the Premier League.
And the 13,000 fans who attended Burnley’s final match of the season against Bristol City certainly showed their appreciation as he stood on the centre spot at half-time to take their applause.
Mr Kilby joined the Burnley board of directors in 1998, becoming chairman two months later. He invested £3m. to become the major shareholder in January 1999.
His arrival reignited the club – handing manager Stan Ternent the funds to break the club transfer record for defender Steve Davis – and promotion followed in 2000.
The 62-year-old proved to be a shrewd judge of character when it came to appointing managers.
He brought Steve Cotterill to Turf Moor in 2004 and his signings of Graham Alexander, Steven Caldwell and Wade Elliott proved to be the backbone of the team for several years.
But it was the appointment of Owen Coyle in 2007 that was to be the masterstroke of Kilby’s reign as the charismatic Scotsman built on Cotterill’s foundations and guided the team to an unforgettable play-off final at Wembley and long-awaited promotion to the Premier League. Two marvellous cup runs that season also brought the club and town great national exposure.
Perhaps his greatest legacy, though, was to steer the club through the uncertain financial waters of modern football and build a foundation for the future.