Malcolm Dawson writes…….as we prepare to meet the Baggies of West Bromwich Albion Alan Graham, an old mate of mine from the West Midlands (Sunderland through and through but also a WBA season ticket holder) informs me of the passing of former referee Ken Burns, the man in the middle at the 1973 F.A. Cup Final. Born in Dudley, Ken had links with the North East before going on to reach the highest levels of officiating, taking charge of European Cup games as well as top flight matches in the English League.
It is also thought that, prior to Michael Oliver, Ken was the youngest ever person to referee a league match when in 1961, at the age of 30 he was in the middle at Field Mill, the home of Mansfield Town. Born in 1931 and with National Service still in place, when only just turned 18 Ken was called up and stationed near Bishop Auckland. I don’t suppose this, or the fact he used to play snooker with Alan’s dad who was born in Seaham Harbour, had any bearing on the way he refereed the 73 Final but had he been officiating nowadays I’m not sure Richie Pitt would have seen out the first ten minutes.
Ken – the man in black at Wembley ’73
Ken was a top flight referee for 17 years, retiring in 1978 having taken charge of numerous European ties and several internationals including Portugal v Belgium in 1972 and Scotland v Brazil in 1973. He was President of the Referee’s Association for 10 years and when his whistle blowing days came to an end he worked as a referees’ assessor for FIFA.
He is described by his brother Peter as “a tremendous person, dedicated to the game.” Peter then went on to say, “he liked to see fair play but always wanted the crowd to be entertained and he let sides play without the constant blowing of the whistle.”
Ken, a lawyer, lived and worked in Stourbridge for the majority of his life and died from cancer aged 85.
Salut passes on its sincere condolences to the family of a man who played his part in the greatest day in the living memory of Sunderland fans.
Ken Burns disallowing two Leeds United “goals”.