John Edward Thompson 'Jackie' Milburn, (May 11, 1924 – October 9, 1988), also known to fans as Wor Jackie and 'the first World Wor' in reference to his global fame, was a football player for Newcastle United and England. ("Wor" in the Geordie dialect means "our")
Jackie Milburn was born in the coal mining town of Ashington, Northumberland, 15 miles north of Newcastle, Milburn's employment as a fitter (repairing heavy machinery) had reserved occupation status during World War II, which meant that he remained in Ashington.
In 1943, Jackie signed for Newcastle United after writing to the club in response to the club's advert for trialists in the North Mail Newspaper. He arrived at St James' Park with a pair of borrowed football boots wrapped in brown paper, and his lunch - a pie and a bottle of Pop. Milburn made a huge impression and was invited back to a final trial match - the Stripes v the Blues. Milburn's Stripes found themselves 3-0 down at half time, but then being switched to centre forward in the second half, Milburn scored six times as his side turned around the deficit to win 9-3. Club supremo Stan Seymour quickly signed Milburn up, although the war meant that he still worked in the mines whilst also turning out for Newcastle United in Wartime League games. Jackie quickly became a hero on parts of Tyneside once League Football returned after World War II in 1946. He played 395 games for Newcastle, and is the club's second highest goalscorer with 200 goals; six goals behind Alan Shearer.Jackie, though, remains the club's top scorer with both league and cup goals, Shearer's European goals taking his total to 206. There were no European games in Jackie's day.
At first, Milburn played as a winger, but switched to Centre Forward after Charlie Wayman left the club to join Southampton in October, 1947, and was given the club's legendary number 9 shirt. Jackie was arguably the central figure in Newcastle's FA Cup campaigns of the 1950s, which saw the club win the Cup three times in five years; 1951, 1952 and 1955. Milburn also made 13 appearances for England, scoring 10 goals. Milburn left the Magpies in June, 1957 to join the Belfast club Linfield F.C. as player/coach at Windsor Park.
Jackie Milburn's total record saw him score 238 goals in 492 games. He went on to briefly manage Ipswich Town, before returning to Tyneside to become a sports journalist for the News of the World newspaper. In 1967 he was given a belated testimonial match by Newcastle. Jackie had worried that ten years after leaving the club, people would have forgotten, but he needn't have worried, as almost 50,000 turned out at St. James' Park for the match which featured a host of stars including his second cousins, the famous World Cup winning brothers, Bobby Charlton and Jack Charlton, and the great Hungarian player Ferenc Puskás.
Away from football, Milburn was a shy, quiet and modest man well liked and respected by all who met him. As part of their 'bonus', the United players were given cigarettes by the club. Those who didn't smoke gave theirs to smokers. Jackie always had a ready supply. Sadly, Milburn died at the age of 64 on October 9, 1988 of lung cancer, at his home in Ashington. His funeral was held at St. Nicholas's Cathedral in Newcastle and saw over 30,000 people turn out to pay their respects.
In 1988 Newcastle United opened their new West Stand at St James' Park and named it after Milburn. In addition to the Milburn Stand at St James' Park, two statues of the footballer were commissioned. One stands on Station Road, the main street in his birthplace Ashington, the funds for which were raised by the Civic Head, Cllr Michael George Ferrigon during his term of Office. The other, in Newcastle, was originally situated on Northumberland Street but now stands at Milburn Junction, where St James' Boulevard meets Barrack Road, just a minute's walk away from St. James' Park.
Milburn was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2006 in recognition of his contribution to English Football.
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