Tackling dementia, depression and loneliness through the power of sport

Meet Leyland member Trevor Meredith - A league winner with Burnley!

At Sporting Memories, we welcome a diverse and wide range of people to our clubs from many unique backgrounds. Our groups provide an opportunity for our members to share stories and reminiscence of sport achievements and occasions from their past.

At our Leyland club, one member has lived the dream of quite a lot of our members – to play in a title-winning team.

Rod Graham caught up with the former Burnley and Shrewsbury Town winger Trevor Meredith to detail his story from trialist to league winner and his life now as a Sporting Memories club member.

Growing up on a farm in Shropshire, football mad Trevor Meredith dreamt, like many a young boy, of scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final or the goal that would win the league title. He never really expected that the latter would one day come true for him.

Speaking to Sporting Memories, the quietly spoken and modest Trevor, 85, told us how he was immortalised as a Clarets legend, saying, with a glint in his eye; “I lived the dream.”

Trevor was born on Christmas Day 1936 and was called up for National Service, serving in the RAF. His talent as an outside right for the RAF team did not go unnoticed and a team mate Walter Joyce, recommended him to Burnley who Joyce himself played for at the time.

Invited for a trial Trevor was watched by Burnley manager Harry Potts and was promptly signed up in 1957.

The late 50s was a period of post-war austerity and footballers were still under the rule of the maximum wage, which was not abolished until 1961. Few of Burnley’s players even had cars and Trevor was placed in digs in the town.

The days of substitutes were still a long way off and with Burnley’s outside right being England international John Connolly, Trevor’s first team appearances were limited.

However, fate was to shine on Trevor towards the end of the 1959-60 season. The team had been playing well and as the season climax headed towards a crescendo Burnley were still fighting for the First Division title with Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Trevor was handed his big break when John Connolly was injured, coming into the team for the last seven games.

It was still two points for a win and as the last weekend of the season approached, Burnley had a game in hand as a previous scheduled game had been postponed. Wolves and Spurs both won their final games but Burnley could only draw 0-0 with Fulham. It would all come down to Burnley’s match in hand when they were due to play Manchester City at Maine Rd the following Monday 2nd May. A win would seal the First Division title for probably the smallest town team in league history.

Trevor described the build up to the match; “We travelled by coach to Manchester, along the way there were loads of supporters with flags and scarves and it was very exciting. There were 66,000 inside Maine Rd with thousands more locked out.”

City’s team included legends such as Denis Law and Bert Trautmann.

Play was very tense to begin with but Burnley took the lead after five minutes with a goal by Brian Pilkington. After 20 minutes Burnley were pegged back when City equalised.

Trevor’s moment that would lead to him being immortalised in the annals of Turf Moor history books came on the stroke of the half hour. “We had a free kick in City’s half and Tommy Cummings floated the ball into their penalty box. The ball bobbled about around the penalty spot and I found it in front of me. I hit it sweetly with my left foot and it struck the back of the net.”

There was no sliding on the knees or kissing the badge for Trevor, just handshakes from his team mates, as the crowd went mad.

The rest of the match was a nervous affair but after what seemed an eternity the referee blew the final whistle and the stadium went crazy.

“There were wild celebrations in the dressing room but for some reason no champagne. We did have some wine, though.”

The journey back to Burnley saw supporters cheering and waving all the way. With so few players having cars Trevor was dropped off on Manchester Rd, near to his digs, along with captain Jimmy McIlroy.

A few days later there was a richly deserved open top bus tour of the town with the streets lined with supporters, as the team proudly paraded the Championship trophy. There was also a celebration dinner at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool.

As Champions, the club was invited to a tournament in New York where they spent six weeks before moving onto Canada for two weeks. Following a break to his ankle Trevor spent time in Burnley General Hospital and Eileen, the nurse treating him, later became his wife.

Trevor made around a total of 40 appearances for Burnley before being transferred to Shrewsbury in 1964. After eight years at Shrewsbury, Trevor trained as a teacher and taught at a primary school in Preston for 25 years, during which he also coached the school football team.

Trevor now lives in Leyland, Lancashire with wife Eillen and spends his time walking his dog. His daughters obviously know about the day he won the title for Burnley, but his five grandchildren and three great grandchildren never speak about it. “It was a long time ago”, he says, poignantly.

His journey into Sporting Memories came through a Burnley legend at the Clarets, when he went along to the first meeting of the Leyland club that welcomed along Brian Pilkington (scorer of the first goal at Maine Rd). Trevor enjoyed that first meeting and the camaraderie within the group and has been attending ever since.

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