Experienced defensive midfielder Dennis Burnett joined the Tigers in October 1973 for a £80,000 fee. He made his first team debut in early November and scored the first of his two goals for City in his second appearance, the equalising goal at Aston Villa. Industrial unrest at the time had led to pressure on the electricity generation industry, which meant that all matches, even midweek fixtures, were kicking off in the early afternoon as the use of floodlights was not permitted. This appeared to impact on the Tigers’ power levels too as the 9 league matches between Burnett’s debut and New Years Eve yielded only two wins. Things got worse when the three day week began in January 1974, as the Tigers won only two of 10 league fixtures. Burnett was by now installed as club captain and was a fixture in Terry Neill’s midfield, scoring his second goal at Oxford United in anorther 1-1 draw. Despite this poor run of form City ended the season ninth in the Second Division table. However when 1974/75 season began City won only one of the first 7 matches and Neill was lured south to take over at Tottenham Hotspur. Neill’s replacement was Burnett’s fellow midfielder John Kaye who stepped up from dressing room to manager’s office. Kaye quickly signed Dave Roberts to compete for Burnett’s first team place and the combination of injury and a sending off limited Dennis to two short spells in the first team before being loaned to Millwall in March 1975 and leaving the Tigers that summer after rejecting a contract extension.
Burnett was born in Bermondsey, a historic dormitory for the London Docklands, and played for North West Kent Schoolboys in his youth. He joined the West Ham United groundstaff as a teenager and was awarded a professional contract in October 1962, shortly after his 18th birthday. He played in the West Ham youth team that lifted the 1963 FA Youth Cup and made his Hammers’ senior debut in 1965, becoming the first team regular right back for two seasons and making 66 senior appearances. The pinnacle of Burnett’s time at Upton Park came in March 1966 when he was West Ham’s right back for both legs of the League Cup Final. With future City manager John Kaye in the opposing West Bromwich Albion side, the Hammers won the first leg but ended up losing 3-5 on aggregate, Kaye scoring in the second leg.
In August 1967 a £15,000 fee took Burnett to Millwall, the club of choice for most people in his native Bermondsey. He played for the Lions for six seasons and racked up nearly 300 appearances in all competitions. Burnett was a constant presence in the early 1970s Millwall first team as they established themselves in the upper half of the Second Division under manager Benny Fenton, himself also a former West Ham player. Burnett was selected for a FA XI tour of Gibraltar in 1973 alongside future Tiger Dave Sunley and more illustrious colleagues like Gordon Banks, Nobby Stiles, Frank Worthington and Trevor Francis. At the start of 1973/74 season Dennis missed a number of games for Millwall and a £80,000 fee was enough to lure Fenton into brokering a sale to Hull City.
Following his two seasons at Hull City Burnett had the first of two summer spells in the North American Soccer League, playing 21 times for St Louis Stars. On his return he joined Third Division Brighton & Hove Albion where he had a successful first season starting 36 League games, before becoming a peripheral figure in 1976/77 as the Seagulls rose to finish second in the League and win promotion under manager Alan Mullery. He left Brighton in February 1977 and after a short spell at non-league Ilford he headed stateside once more and played a second season for St Louis Stars, making 19 starts. When he returned from a summer of USA football he was signed by Irish League side Shamrock Rovers but left within three months. In 1978 he took over as player-manager at Norwegian side SK Haugar and reached the 1979 Norwegian Cup final. Although the Final was lost 2-1 to Viking, Haugar qualified for the 1980/81 European Cup Winners Cup and Burnett’s side beat Switzerland’s Sion before losing to Len Ashurst’s Newport County. Burnett left Norway in 1981 and reappeared 13 years later when pressed into the first team at the age of 50 for Lancing, a south coast non-league side, where he was assistant manager. Burnett ran a painting and decorating business after he retired from the full-time game and was part of the pre-match hospitality team at West Ham for many years.
Date/Place of Birth: 27 September 1944, Bermondsey
Hull City First Game: 10 November 1973, Carlisle United A (Division Two), 29 years, 44 days old
Hull City Final Game: 18 January 1975, Bristol City A (Division Two), 30 years, 113 days old
West Ham United (1962-1967), Millwall (1967-1973), Hull City (1973-1975), Millwall (1975, loan), St Louis Stars (1975), Brighton & Hove Albion (1975-1977), Ilford (1977), St Louis Stars (1977), Shamrock Rovers (1977), SK Haugar (1978-1981)
Hull City Record
Career: 52 apps, 2 goalsDennis Burnett
|1973/74||27 (0)||2||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|1974/75||19 (0)||0||3 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|