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Ollie Burton (1963/64 to 1972/73)

Ollie Burton
Ollie Burton
Ollie Burton
Bth 11/11/41 Chepstow Monmouthshire
P/H/W Centre-Half + 5ft 11½in 10st 8lb - 12st
Jnd 07/06/63 Norwich £37,500
Deb 24/08/63 Derby (H) D2
Ret 1973 Injured
App/Gls 220 (9) 8

Christened Alwyn but always known as Ollie he cost United a considerable £37,500 when he was bought from Norwich as a 21-year-old in June 1963 and he stayed at the club until his retirement in 1973.

Not only did Burton cost United a record fee when he signed, he also drove a hard bargain in contract negotiations. A weekly wage of £20 was on offer but Burton held out for more and ended up with £35 a week. He then persuaded United to give him 10% of the transfer fee as well!

His first few months on Tyneside were a bit of a nightmare. He got tonsillitis, his wife was homesick, he suffered a knee ligament injury and United signed Stan Anderson to play in the position he had been playing, right-half.

And he struggled to keep a regular place in the side over his first four seasons, making only 56 appearances. 1967/68 was the first season he played more than twenty games.

Ollie was a fine, versatile player who Harvey employed as an attacking wing-half, full-back, centre-half, sweeper and centre-forward. However both Harvey and Burton agreed that he was most effective at centre-half. Harvey said in his testimonial programme: “Ollie on song was a fine centre-half. He was hard and he was safe and he was reliable”.

He was strong and packed a hard-tackle, but he was constructive too and capable of playing shrewd passes through to the forwards.

Burton also packed a mighty shot as many a keeper could testify to and in his earlier days loved nothing better than to boldly surge through midfield before launching a long-range thunderbolt.

He played in every game of the 1968/69 Fairs Cup success with the exception of the first-leg of the Semi-Final in Glasgow.

Throughout his career on Tyneside he was blighted by illness and injury which restricted the number of appearances he made, but it was testament to his toughness that he battled back so many times.

Ollie requested a transfer on numerous occasions but ended up staying for almost ten years until finally being forced to retire through injury in 1973. He was awarded a testimonial with a game being played against Sunderland in May 1963.

He played for Wales at schoolboy, youth and U23 levels, won his first full Welsh cap in March 1963 against Hungary and played nine times in total.

Harvey also spoke of his personality. “Apart from his footballing ability Ollie has been great to have around for dressing-room spirit. He is a man with a fine sense of humour, a man who can break any tension with a few witty words.”

Burton also has the distinction of being United’s first ever substitute in a competitive match when he came on for Trevor Hockey in the home match against Northampton on the 4th September 1965.

Season by Season

Ollie Burton
Ollie Burton

Pre Toon

Started his career at Newport County, making his senior debut at 16 and making 53 appearances, scoring twice. He moved to Norwich in 1961 where he scored 9 goals in 73 matches.

1963/64 (19 - 3)

Joined from Norwich in the summer and within weeks had to go into hospital to have his tonsils removed. Ollie and his wife struggled to settle on Tyneside and at the end of August he admitted: “It was the extra money that tempted me to leave Norwich where I was happy” and said they would “give it until Christmas”. He started the season at right-half before suffering a knee ligament injury at Portsmouth in October and then losing his place in the side when Stan Anderson was signed.

1964/65 (2-1)

Played for the first time, at inside-right, at Ipswich in October. Even though he scored he played really poorly and was instantly dropped leading to him asking for a transfer. He felt there was a hoodoo on him in the North. The club agreed to let him go, but although Swindon showed an interest they could not afford him.

1965/66 (18/1)

Demonstrated his versatility by playing in both full-back positions as well as right-half and centre-forward. Was troubled with a knee injury and underwent a cartilage operation on his left knee in April.

1966/67 (17/1)

Another in and out season as he was once again troubled by niggling injuries. Played at right-half in the first half of the season before being replaced by new signing Dave Elliot. Burton requested a transfer and his request was granted. Hearts showed an interest.

1967/68 (37/3 - 3)

Ollie his most productive season so far deputising at right-back for the injured Craig until the last few weeks of the season. He was sent-off against Everton in what was dubbed "the battle of St. James' Park".

1968/69 (49/1 - 1)

United rejected a bid from former club Norwich in June and it was a sound decision as he undoubtedly had his best season on Tyneside where he partnered either Moncur or McNamee in what was a very strong United central defence. Despite niggling ankle and groin problems Ollie played in nearly all the games and produced some excellent performances, particularly in the Fairs Cup.

1969/70 (35/2)

Partnered Moncur for most of the season and maintained a high level of consistency. A groin strain sustained in the home match against Leeds kept him out for a while, but he returned to the side in March. He was still impacted by long-term ankle issues

1970/71 (17/1 )

Had another season blighted by injury as he struggled to shake off the effects of a knee injury, picked up on their North Atlantic tour and an ankle injury.

1971/72 (21)

Burton suffered a thigh injury in September. He returned a month later and (with Moncur out) developed a very effective partnership with Howard. He made his last appearance at Huddersfield in January when he was injured falling over McFaul.


Painting by Piotr