Ken Burns (referee)

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Kenneth Howard Burns (1931–2016[1]) was an English former football referee who officiated in the English Football League, and on the FIFA list. During his refereeing career he was based in Stourbridge, in the borough of Dudley, West Midlands, and was by profession a legal executive.


He made the Football League referees list at the age of thirty in 1961. On 29 April 1967, he refereed the FA Cup semi-final between Leeds United and Chelsea at Villa Park, which the London side won 1–0, after Burns had disallowed two late Leeds goals.[2] Revenge was to come six months later, in an old First Division fixture at Elland Road between the two sides, on 7 October 1967. Burns also refereed this, and the Yorkshire team won 7–0.[3]

In 1969, he was senior linesman for the FA Cup Final, assisting George McCabe. This was McCabe's last match before retirement and in the summer Burns took his place on the FIFA List. His greatest domestic honour came in 1973 when he refereed the FA Cup Final between Leeds and Sunderland at Wembley. This is a well-remembered Final, not least for a crucial double-save by North East goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery, as Sunderland, of the old Second Division, defeated Leeds, one of the top clubs in the country at that time, by 1 goal to nil. He was serving as president of the Referees' Association when he took this appointment.[4]

Burns was a regular official in European competitions, at both international and club level. He controlled the European Championships qualifier between Portugal and Belgium on 21 November 1971, for a place in the 1972 competition finals.[5] He also took charge of a European Cup quarter-final between Bayern Munich and Ajax in 1973.,[6] and of Club Brugge's famous win over Real Madrid in the same competition in the autumn of 1976. He would probably have received more appointments of this stature, but for his busy fellow West Midlander, Wolverhampton's Jack Taylor, who was England's senior representative at that time.

Burns retired in 1978 after seventeen years of Football League refereeing and nine at international level. By coincidence, his career had also overlapped with another long-serving Football League, FA Cup Final and international referee from Stourbridge – Eric Jennings.



  • Football League Handbooks, 1961–1970
  • Rothmans Football Yearbooks, 1971–1978
  • Ionescu, Romeo (2003) The Complete Results & Line-Ups of the European Fairs Cup 1955–1971, Soccer Books Limited
  • Ionescu, Romeo (2004) The Complete Results & Line-Ups of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup 1955–1991, Soccer Books Limited
  • Ionescu, Romeo (2004) The Complete Results & Line-Ups of the European Cup Winners Cup 1960–1999, Soccer Books Limited
  • Ionescu, Romeo (2004) The Complete Results & Line-Ups of the UEFA Cup 1971–1991, Soccer Books Limited


  1. ^;guest=130824454
  2. ^ Leeds 0 Chelsea 1, FA Cup semi-final, 1967: website.
  3. ^ Leeds 7 Chelsea 0, First Division, six months later: website.
  4. ^ Appointment to FA Cup Final 1973 Archived 12 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine., whilst serving as Referees' Association president: Bob Dunning's Rothman's Football Yearbook online archive (point 10).
  5. ^ European Championships qualifier Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine., 1971: statistical website.
  6. ^ European Cup quarter-final Archived 29 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine., 1973: Bob Dunning's Rothman's Football Yearbook online archive (point 3)
Preceded by
David Smith
FA Cup Final Referee
Succeeded by
Gordon Kew