Tom Burlison, Footballer & Trade Unionist



Tom Burlison, who died earlier this week, was perhaps the only former professional footballer to sit in the House of Lords. A part-time player for more than a decade, he made almost 200 first-team appearances for Hartlepools and Darlington before embarking on a career as a trade union official and politician.


Born in the Durham village of Edmondsley on 23 May 1936, Tom Burlison signed amateur forms for Lincoln City in October 1953, becoming a part-time professional two months later on a salary of £3 a week. The Imps were a Second Division club at the time, and Tom was restricted to reserve-team football, however, his fortunes changed when he dropped a division and signed for Hartlepools United in the summer of 1957. He went on to make his debut against Workington in October of that year and over the next seven seasons he made some 157 first-team appearances for the club, mostly at left half or outside left. In the summer of 1964 he moved on to Darlington, where he spent a further season before leaving football to concentrate on his trade union career.


Tom worked as a panel beater during his playing career, before becoming a recruitment officer with the General & Municipal Workers Union shortly before he left the game. He eventually rose to become Deputy General Secretary of what was now the General Municipal & Boilermakers Union in 1990. He was also active in the Labour Party serving as treasurer and as a member of the NEC in the 1990s.


Tom was made a Life Peer in 1997, adopting the title Baron Burlison of Rowlands Gillm and in the same year he was appointed Honorary Life President of Hartlepool United. He regularly attended matches at the Victoria Ground and was present for the final home game of the 2007-08 campaign against Nottingham Forest.






No Responses Yet to “Tom Burlison, Footballer & Trade Unionist”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: