Burnley man, 88, receives football medal after 74 years

John Zelly proudly wears his medalImage copyright
Burnley Council

Image caption

John Zelly was 14 when his school won the 1946 Keighley Cup final

An 88-year-old man has finally received his football cup winner’s medal – 74 years after his team lifted a trophy.

John Zelly, who was aged 14 when he played inside left as his school won the 1946 Keighley Cup final 2-1, said “it means so much to me”.

It was the first match to be played at the Turf Moor home of Burnley FC after World War II.

A post-war metal shortage is believed to have delayed the Abel Street School team’s players receiving their medals.

Image caption

Mr Zelly (third from left) and his team played in the first post-war game at Turf Moor

Mr Zelly wrote about it to the outgoing mayor of Burnley, councillor Anne Kelly, who admitted: “I had no idea where to start looking.”

She asked council leader Charlie Briggs, who contacted the Lancashire football league to see if it could help.

The medal was later presented to Mr Zelly outside his home.

He said: “I have often thought of that missing medal and it means so much to me to get it after all these years, for me to be able to hold it and eventually pass it on to my son to whom I know it would mean the world.”

Image copyright
Burnley Council

Image caption

Mr Zelly receives his medal outside his house from councillors Charlie Briggs and Anne Kelly

Ms Kelly said: “He was thrilled. He proudly pinned it on himself immediately and it’s set to become a family heirloom.

“The winner’s medal was 74 years in coming but John richly deserved it and it was a really lovely moment.”