Today's Jackie Milburn Talking Points
John Edward Thompson "Jackie" Milburn (11 May 1924 – 9 October 1988) was a football player principally associated with Newcastle United and England, though he also spent four seasons at Linfield. He was also known as Wor Jackie (particularly in North East England, a Geordie dialectal version of 'Our Jackie') and as the First World Wor (in reference to his global fame).
Cousin to the mother of Bobby and Jack Charlton, Milburn played two trial matches at St James' Park as a 19-year-old in 1943. In the second of these, he scored six second half goals. Milburn made his competitive debut in the FA Cup in the 1945–46 season and was initially deployed on the left wing as a supplier to Charlie Wayman. However, Wayman was dropped before a 4-0 defeat to eventual winners Charlton Athletic in a 1947 FA Cup semi-final and when he afterwards vowed not to play for United again, manager George Martin made the decision to switch Milburn to centre forward. In his next match, on 18 October 1947, Milburn wore the number nine shirt for the first time and scored a hat-trick.
Milburn's subsequent achievements, particularly his two goals which won the 1951 FA Cup Final and his 45-second opener in the 1955 FA Cup Final which was the fastest ever Wembley FA Cup Final goal until it was beaten by Roberto Di Matteo in 1997, brought him national recognition and afforded him iconic status on Tyneside. In total, Milburn played in three FA Cup winning finals for United; 1951, 1952 and 1955. Despite his achievements, Milburn was reportedly a very shy and self-deprecating individual, whose modesty further endeared him to Newcastle United supporters, though according to Tom Finney, this stemmed from an "innate inferiority complex".
By the time Milburn left Newcastle in 1957, he had become the highest goalscorer in Newcastle United's history. He remained so until he was surpassed by Alan Shearer in February 2006. Milburn remains Newcastle's second highest goalscorer, having scored 200 competitive goals. Milburn's transfer to Linfield in 1957 was almost jeopardised when the Newcastle board demanded a substantial signing fee, and much to the anger of fans, Milburn was not immediately granted a testimonial. His signing for Linfield "added thousands to the gate" and he scored 54 goals in four seasons in all competitions for the club. He was finally granted a testimonial ten years later, in 1967.
Milburn died of lung cancer on 9 October 1988, aged 64. His funeral took place on 13 October, and was attended by over 1,000 mourners at St Nicholas's Cathedral in Newcastle. Tens of thousands of people lined the streets to watch the cortège pass. A statue of Milburn, costing £35,000 and paid for by donations received from Newcastle United supporters was erected on Newcastle's Northumberland Street before it was relocated in 1999 to St James' Boulevard and then moved again to its present position on Strawberry Place, just outside St James' Park.
Milburn was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in October 2006. In 2009, Goal.com listed Milburn as 43rd in their list of the top English players of all time.Close