FOR Burnley Football Club, the biggest news of the week was not the Clarets’ defeat at league leaders Southampton, or home victory over Barnsley, but chairman Barry Kilby’s decision to step down at the end of the season.
It is due to ill-health, as Barry has revealed he is battling cancer, and supporters hope his fight is a successful one.
Barry will leave a huge gap at the head of the club, which he has steered for the best part of 15 years.
Chairmen can define their club.
Just look at Bob Lord, who helped build Burnley into the champions of England as the club competed in Europe, and arguably pursued the sell to build a ground policy which began its downfall. He had a fearsome reputation nationally. It’s arguable his abrasive nature and run-ins with just about everyone affected the club’s relationship for years.
After Bob Lord, the late John Jackson’s tenure saw John Bond installed as manager, a move which might have paid off but didn’t. Frank Teasdale deserves much credit for steering the club through the most difficult time in its history, when it was in danger of not just ceasing to be a league club but ceasing to be.
Two promotions and a Sherpa Van final saw Burnley gain back its self-respect, but Frank had probably taken the club as far as he could when Barry took over.
Barry’s first masterstroke was getting Stan Ternent in for his six year tenure as manager, with the coup that was signing Ian Wright, in my view the catalyst that fired Burnley into the Championship, where they have remained barring one season.
That season, of Premiership football in 2009-2010, also stemmed from another inspired managerial appointment, of Owen Coyle, who instilled self-belief in a side which played out of its skin to get there and more or less continued to do so until Coyle left. His side utilised several players brought in by his predecessor Steve Cotterill, whose managerial tenure, on balance, left the club stronger than when he arrived.
The timing of Coyle’s departure holed the club under the waterline and the appointment of Brian Laws in hindsight didn’t work (though I don’t subscribe to the theory it was totally doomed from the start). Eddie Howe looks to be another shrewd piece of business.
Barry has been good for Burnley. We wish him nothing but the best.