Promotion-winning former Clarets captain John Pender diagnosed with motor neurone disease

John Pender, who twice captained Burnley to promotion in the 1990s, has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

By Chris Boden
Monday, 15th November 2021, 1:29 pm
John Pender, front row, centre, captained Burnley to promotion in 1992 and again, here at Wembley in 1994
John Pender, front row, centre, captained Burnley to promotion in 1992 and again, here at Wembley in 1994

The news was revealed at a calendar launch at the 110 Club on Saturday evening, to honour the Fourth Division Championship success, with Pender's former teammates Roger Eli, John Francis and Chris Pearce in attendance.

And his family have released a statement, which reads: "Today we are asking you to support ex Burnley player and "Captain Fantastic", John Pender, who has regretfully been diagnosed with a life changing and debilitating illness, motor neurone disease (MND).

"Unfortunately John is now completely wheelchair bound and requires 24/7 care to undertake day-to-day tasks.

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"John has an enduring love for Burnley FC and the fans, having captained them to two promotions, triumphed at Wembley and put his body on the line during his 171 league appearances. John committed his whole life to football, in particular Burnley.

"So we ask that you, the Turf Moor faithful, pull together so we can transform his quality of life? We hope you are willing to support a fellow claret."

To that end, his family have set up a page to raise funds to help improve his quality of life, comfort and experience.

He is now fully reliant on his wife Denise for all his needs, and is fully wheelchair bound.

And the family add: "John’s quality of life is unfortunately rapidly declining, and we would like to ask for your help to assist with John’s quality of life, increase his comfort and experiences while he still has the chance to do so."

Pender, now 57, is one of a small group of players who twice led the Clarets to promotion, including Martin Dobson is on.

Pender captained the side that won the last Fourth Division title in 1991/92 season, and two years later led the side to a 2-1 win over Stockport County at Wembley in the Second Division Play-Off Final.

Pender started his career at Wolves, as an apprentice, becoming a regular in the side aged 18, with Wolves promoted to the top flight in 1983.

However, they suffered three-successive relegations, and Pender joined Charlton Athletic in the summer of 1985, again winning promotion to the First Division, before moving to Bristol City.

In 1990, he arrived at Burnley after an initial loan spell, for £70,000, and after forming a solid partnership with Steve Davis, the latter joined Barnsley, with Pender's new partner being Stephen Davis.

The pair would be the bedrock of those two promotions in three seasons, with Pender the first winning Burnley captain at Wembley.

After relegation in 1995, and 220 appearances for the Clarets, Pender joined Wigan Athletic for £40,000, captaining the Latics before ending his career at Rochdale.

Burnley FPA has arranged a 30th Anniversary of the 1991/92 4th Division Championship win on April 30th, 2022 with proceeds to Pender, but he needs more support now and if anyone has any ideas, support or even donations, please contact Veronica Simpson on 07974310099.

The 1992 Fourth Division champions calendar, from Clive Lawrence, will cost £15, with proceeds split between the Len Johnrose Trust and Gary Parkinson Trust.