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Flashback Friday – Kenny Burns

Posted: Fri 22 Nov 2013

Whether playing as a striker or central defender Kenny Burns had a reputation as a tough, uncompromising character.

Born in Glasgow in 1953, he left his hometown to pursue a professional career with Birmingham City aged just 17.

In Burns’ first season with Blues the club were promoted to the First Division. Despite being on the fringes of the first team it took him a couple more years to force his way into the starting line-up on a regular basis.

During his time with the reserve and youth teams Burns was in good company amongst one of Birmingham’s best ever batch of youngsters. Looking back on his early years at St. Andrew’s, Kenny recalls: “Birmingham was my youth and I'm very, very proud of that.

“I grew up alongside the likes of Stevie Phillips, Stevie Bryant and Joe Gallagher. We had a good camaraderie between us and it was just great to learn from coaches such as Willie Bell and Syd Owen - I was very happy."

When Burns finally broke into the first team he showed his versatility playing at centre back or striker, even occasionally filling in as a midfielder. His no-nonsense performances quickly captured the support of the Birmingham fans as the club enjoyed a prolonged run in the top flight.

Reminiscing on the club’s performances of the seventies, Burns says: “A big pal of mine was Roger Hynd, Bob Hatton was a goal machine and Bob Latchford was possibly one of the best centre forwards in the country at the time, if not the best. And there was Trevor Francis, obviously.

“We also had Alan Campbell, Howard Kendall, Terry Hibbitt - that is a midfield that would grace the Premier League now. They were all great pros.”

His most impressive season for Birmingham came in 1975/76. Following the departure of Latchford to Everton a few years earlier, Burns made the centre forward position his own and, as the side finished in 13th place in the league, the Scottish international scored 19 times.

His Birmingham career came to an end in the summer of 1977 as newly-promoted Nottingham Forest, managed by Brian Clough, signed Burns for £150,000.