A ray of footballing genius

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During the 1950s and ’60s our football teams could boast of over a dozen truly great centre forwards. Names of fame include Tommy Taylor, Nat Lofthouse, Brian Clough, Ronnie Allen and without doubt our very own Turf Moor hero Ray Pointer.

Ray’s record for Burnley from 1957 to 1964 in league matches reads 223 games played with a magnificent 118 goals scored and this is against goalkeepers of the calibre of Bert Trautmann, Harry Gregg, Eddie Hopkinson and Gordon Banks. Ray always gave 100% and became the Clarets’ second highest scorer of all.

Our picture this week shows Ray (centre) at his cosy Blackpool home at Christmas 2005 with “yours truly” and grandson Nathan, when we were invited over by Ray and his wife Marilyn to take them a half-dozen copies of our best-selling book “The Greatest Burnley Team of All” to give as Christmas presents.

The festive visit was a joy as Ray brought out his England caps, his gold 1959 - 60 Championship medal, as Marilyn served us up turkey butties (four each!) and slices of her delicious home-made Christmas cake.

Ray showed us a brilliant family photograph from the 1940s with Ray and his seven brothers all in their local football strip, while his only sister cheers them on.

Now Ray, one of the nicest men in football, has gone to the great football pitch above. His years here with us will live on, for his skill during his playing days was always special indeed. My memory takes me back to those halcyon times: Adam Blacklaw throws the ball out skilfully to Bobby Seith who takes the ball past two Spurs players and with a powerful volley lobs the ball over to a waiting Jimmy McIlroy. Jimmy swivels past two defenders and flicks the ball over to the wing where John Connelly hits a wonderful shot to the head of Ray Pointer who powers it into the Beehole End goal. It’s another magical moment from the most glorious centre forward of the most glorious team that ever played football at Turf Moor.