Lycurgus Burrows was born in Ashton under Lyne, Northumberland, on 26th June 1875, and is first found playing for Melrose in Glasgow, and then in Sheffield, before playing for Woolwich Polytechnic while a student there. The cause of these moves were the family moving home, presumably in search of work, and it was while playing for the Polytechnic that he was spotted and given his chance with Arsenal while still only 16 in January 1892.
He played once as a full back joining Royal Arsenal before their induction to the Football League and 21 times for the reserves. Because he was an amateur player he was free to play for other teams in the FA Cup – and indeed did so, playing four times for Tottenham Hotspur, during his spell as a Woolwich Arsenal reserve team player. He signed professional forms in July 1893 aged 18 and got ten games across the next three seasons, his debut coming on 6th February 1894 against Rotherham Town. Having failed to make the grade at Arsenal, Ly moved north to Tottenham in October 1894 where he made over 50 appearances in the Southern League.
In the 22nd April, 1896 edition of The Sketch, he gained a mention:
“Mr. Lycurgus Burrows is the well known full back of the Tottenham Hotspur F.C. and one of the smartest men to be found in that onerous position. Born at Ashton under Lyne on June 26th 1875, Burrows commenced his football career in Govan, with the Melrose. Thence he went to Sheffield, playing there with his school team, St. John’s, until leaving for Woolwich, where he joined the local Polytechnic. Subsequently, he made a few appearances on behalf of the Woolwich Arsenal, and, as a matter of fact, assisted that professional team before he was 16 years of age. As a back, he is very strong and dashing, and has earned a great name in the Southern district. Burrows stands 5ft 9 inches, and weighs 12st 10lb.”
Meanwhile Arsenal retained his professional registration (as they were fully entitlted to do under the mediaeval “retain and transfer” laws and he played ten times in the league for Arsenal while playing as an amateur for Tottenham. He left Tottenham in December 1897 and signed for Sheffield United in his new home town city and played a handful of games for their reserve team.