Burnley FC legend Jimmy McIlroy receives MBE at Turf Moor - PHOTO SPECIAL

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CLARETS legend Jimmy McIlroy - widely regarded as the greatest player in the club’s long history - was awarded an MBE in a unique ceremony at Turf Moor after turning down a trip to Buckingham Palace.

Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire Lord Shuttleworth, the Queen’s representative in the county and a Clarets fan, opened the service before Burnley’s opening fixture of the 2011/12 campaign against Watford.

Burnley legend Jimmy McIlroy receives his MBE at Turf Moor.'Photo Ben Parsons

Burnley legend Jimmy McIlroy receives his MBE at Turf Moor.'Photo Ben Parsons

Mr Peter Robinson OBE, Deputy Lieutenant, read the citation for Jimmy’s MBE honour and the ceremony closed with the presentation of the award and a speech from the 79-year-old who was greeted with a rapturous ovation from the Turf Moor faithful.

“I can say I’m privileged but I’m still wondering how I’ve come to earn it,” said Jimmy. “Apparently a friend of mine in Northern Ireland started sending cuttings and letters to Buckingham Palace 10 years ago, so he’s been plugging my name for a decade. Unfortunately, he wasn’t at Turf Moor but I received a card from him. He’s called Alfie McCabe.”

Jimmy, who was presented with his medal for services to football and local charities in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List in January, admitted he would have found it difficult to choose who would accompany him to the capital, for his investiture, and was grateful to share the moment with thousands of fans. “I just thought why not do it here with people who have seen me play. I wanted to make them as happy as myself. I wanted the fans to feel like I was sharing it with them.”

There’s more on this story in Tuesday’s Burnley Express