A new honour for a Burnley player who is among the town's long list of sporting greats /Dave Thomas

All Burnley fans will recognise the names of Chris Wood, Ben Mee and Dwight McNeil without too much difficulty.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 12:30 pm
Dave Thomas next to an image of former Burnley FC chairman Bob Lord who was one of the few people to recognise the contribution player Jimmy Hogan made to the sporting world.

Hark back a few years and there’s Jimmy Mac and most people in Burnley would surely remember the name.

But go back a bit further there are others that a good many people will not recall, Bob Kelly, John Haworth, Bert Freeman and Billy Nesbitt.

There’s another one, Jimmy Hogan, a Nelson lad, famous in Hungary, but less so in Burnley. The events of Friday October 8th, may well remedy that. He played for Burnley between 1903 and 1905 but then moved on to become a huge force in continental football.

With donations and a list of guests as long as your arm, Hogan’s achievements in the world of football are to be honoured, on his birthday, when a new headstone will be unveiled at Burnley Cemetery. It will honour him again and refresh people’s memories.

Burnley has a long list of sporting greats and Hogan is one of them.

Representatives from Jimmy’s old clubs will be there, former directors of Burnley FC, Jimmy’s family, the Mayor of Burnley, and dignitaries from Budapest, along with the people that made this project happen, through their research and support.

Project leader has been Peter Briggs. It was he and members of the Turf Moor Memorial Garden Committee that found the site of the grave.

The fact that one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game, and a local lad as well, had such an anonymous grave, did not rest easy with Pete and Charles Briggs, so with Angela Broughton from the borough council, they were determined to put things right.

Hogan had travelled around much of Europe for most of his career, preaching that there were better ways to play football, but it was the Hungarians who benefited most from his coaching. So much so that in 1953 when Hungary astonishingly trounced England, they declared that it was Hogan who had taught them so well and that his name should be written in gold letters.

But his techniques and philosophies were largely shunned by the English still convinced that they were the world beaters and had nothing to learn as they continued with their tried and tested two wingers and a big bruiser of a centre forward. Their superiority however, would not last.

The lesson that the Hungarians inflicted on them went unheeded for many more years. English football heads remained in the sand. Hogan preached the values of passing, skill, technique, instant control of the ball, good first touch, and teamwork. Whilst the Hungarians and other continentals revered him, the English FA shunned him.

As far as they were concerned, they had nothing to learn. They had taught the world to play football up until now so that new ways of playing and thinking were ignored.

When he retired from coaching, he returned to Burnley to see out his days after doing some scouting work for Burnley and Aston Villa. Tommy Docherty was a rare British disciple of his.

In his retirement he sometimes attended a Burnley game and much admired the team that Jimmy Adamson created with its deft passing, ball retention, skill and flair. At one game he was guest of honour.

If the rest of the FA and Football League were unaware of him, then Bob Lord the Burnley Chairman certainly was, when he said: “Football in the world has certainly gained from the illustrious career of Jimmy Hogan. We in Burnley are proud of that. In his twilight years he has returned to rest where he was born, having left his true mark throughout the whole sphere of football.”

The game that Hogan watched at Turf Moor when he was guest of honour was against Watford in 1973 when Burnley were on their way to the Second Division title. It was reported that as he saw Burnley win with their delightful football, his face and pipe both lit up.

Hogan passed away on January 30th, 1974 aged 91. The new headstone and resultant publicity will ensure that his achievements will be restored to the forefront.