FORMER Manchester United and Scotland left back Francis Burns will be a Special Guest at the Football Hall of Fame WA’s 21st birthday festivities at Dorrien Gardens on December 12.
Part of the celebrations will be a special tribute on the 50th anniversary of the WA State team’s international challenge with Manchester United, which took place at the WACA Ground in June, 1967.
United, with a team of superstars that included George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, won 7-0 – and then went on to win the European Cup nine months later with basically the same team that had triumphed at the WACA Ground.
“It will be an honour to represent Manchester United on what I’m sure will be a great occasion on the Hall of Fame’s 21st birthday,” said Burns, who now lives in Perth, having migrated here in 1987.
He played 121 league games for Manchester United – but didn’t figure in the WACA contest 50 years ago.
“I was certainly on tour with United in 1967 and we had played in the United States and in New Zealand before coming to Australia,” he recalled.
“Brian Kidd and I – we were both 18 at the time – were being given our first chances with the first-team squad and it was a real thrill to be involved with the likes of Law, Charlton and Best.
“United had just won the league title and were still in celebratory mode when we played in America and lost to Benfica and Dundee. When we got to New Zealand the boss, Matt Busby, said party time was over and it was time to get serious for he wanted to start forming a team that he thought would be good enough to win the European Cup the following season.
“I made what was my first-team debut in New Zealand and ended up with a badly swollen knee, although I was determined to finish the game, which I did.
“I was told it looked like cartilage damage and that I would have to return to Manchester for treatment. But the boss allowed me to stay on when we got to Australia and I was there for a week or so before they told me in Melbourne that I would have to go back.
“So, I missed out on the trip to Perth.
“But I understand it was quite an occasion with George, Denis, Bobby and Brian putting on a great show for United’s fans in Western Australia.”
Burns had what was the first of several cartilage operations when he returned to Manchester, but he recovered quickly and played his first competitive league game for the Red Devils in September, 1967.
He figured in six of United’s European Cup games in the 1967-68 season, but lost his place at full-back in the final against Benfica at Wembley to Shay Brennan.
After seven years at Old Trafford he signed for Southampton in 1972 and a year later joined Preston North End, playing 273 league games for them. He ended his professional playing career with Shamrock Rovers in Dublin.
He still keeps in touch with several of his old Manchester United team-mates, especially Brian Kidd and David Sadler, and quite often re-visits Old Trafford.
He went there quite recently while on a trip to the UK with his grandson, Giordano Colli, who had been invited for trials with Manchester City and Celtic.
“Giordano did quite well in a short space of time at the clubs. He is only 17 and a very talented midfield-forward with the Bayswater under-20 team, so we’re hopeful he can keep the family football tradition alive,” said Burns.
PICTURED; Francis Burns (right at back) with George Best and Pat Crerand. In front, manager Matt Busby, Bobby Charlton and Brian Kidd with the European Cup