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Thread: Looking Back

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2002

    Looking Back

    Dave Thornley continues his Clarets recollections. - External Link

  2. #2
    In hoping to beat the "Lockdown Blues," I continue to reflect on times gone by at Turf Moor. In the spring of 1970 all seemed set fair; Burnley, despite a couple of moderate seasons, seemed securely lodged in the First Division and England reigned supreme as World Champions.
    The eleven year old me naturally expected that this situation would continue in perpetuity. I was wrong. The summer and autumn of 1970 was when football revealed its dark side.
    It began in the small Mexican city of Leon; where England contrived to squander a 2-0 lead in their World Cup quarter final against those pesky Germans. Chelsea’s Peter Bonetti, standing in goal for an ill Gordon Banks, had a “mare”, and Everton’s Brian Labone stood statuesque whilst Gerd Muller volleyed in the winning goal.
    Many years later, I brought up in conversation England’s defeat on penalties (by those lovable Germans again) in the 1990 World Cup. “Have you not got over that yet?” asked my wife rolling her eyes. “I haven’t got over getting knocked out of the 1970 World Cup yet” was my reply; and I still haven’t.
    But amidst the heartache there was beauty in the form of the wonderful Brazilian team which ended up winning the tournament. They displayed a level of footballing skill and craft which I had not previously thought possible and had at its hub, the finest player of all, Pele.
    Rewind briefly to 1968, Burnley had won the FA Youth Cup, and the following season, players from that squad were slung, virtually en masse, into the first team by manager Harry Potts. There then followed a run of eight consecutive victories in all competitions, leading Burnley to be dubbed “The Team of the Seventies” by some giddy pundits.
    So the seventies dawned with Burnley looking forward optimistically; Jimmy Adamson had taken over from Potts as manager and players from that youth team such as Mick Docherty, Alan West, Steve Kindon and Dave Thomas had made the transition into first team regulars and were supplemented by shrewd acquisitions such as Colin Waldron, Frank Casper and Martin Dobson; plus there was always Ralph Coates.
    Coates remains the best player I ever saw in a Burnley shirt; a muscular powerhouse driving forward from midfield, but also blessed with touch, vision and an eye for goal. He had almost made Alf Ramsey’s squad for that ill-fated World Cup campaign, but was cut when the squad was reduced from the initial 26 to the final 22. He would have won many more international caps had he not suffered the misfortune of playing in the same position as Bobby Charlton.
    It is fair to say that Burnley began the 1970-71 season slowly, slumped in the middle before tailing off at the end. I have experienced a number of relegation seasons in my time as a Burnley fan, but few as depressingly lacklustre as this.
    By the new year, Burnley had won only twice in the league and were soon to crash embarrassingly out of the FA Cup, thumped 3-0 by Oxford United – yes, Oxford United!
    Lack of goals, compounded by injuries to key players were the major problems; plus a lack of leadership, experience in ***** areas and a general lethargy which was allowed to fester and spread unchecked throughout the team.
    Bob Lord, out of sheer desperation, and against every parsimonious instinct in his body, splashed out a club record fee of 60,000 (a modest outlay even by the standards of the time) on Paul Fletcher a striker from Bolton, brought in to arrest the goal drought, but his arrival was too little far too late.
    The Clarets slithered shamefacedly out of the first division, along with Blackpool, and miles behind third bottom West Ham. They managed to win a mere seven games all season, three of which came after their relegation fate had been sealed.
    Ralph Coates was sold to Spurs at the end of the season; there he enjoyed a decent career, but never really recaptured the potent form of his time as a Claret.
    There was to be light at the end of the tunnel; Burnley would spend two seasons in the second division before returning in triumph, as we shall re-live in my next instalment. (Dave Thornley reflections). (TEC).

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    Then came Leighton James...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Good read as usual Dave.

    We had been in the top flight all my life until then. We had such a poor season that I was resigning myself to being a lower league supporter. The big city clubs looked untouchable since the removal of the maximum wage and it looked impossible that a club like ours would be able to compete.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by 1959_60 View Post
    Good read as usual Dave.

    We had been in the top flight all my life until then. We had such a poor season that I was resigning myself to being a lower league supporter. The big city clubs looked untouchable since the removal of the maximum wage and it looked impossible that a club like ours would be able to compete.
    It's truly amazing how we have come full circle 59er.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Aye BT.

    What we are achieving now is almost miraculous.

    We are still the smallest town ever to have a Prem team, and we have pretty much established ourselves there.

    It can't last, but full credit to all involved.

  6. #6
    It can last. We can break the mould. We are Burnley, SUPER Burnley..!

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Let's all celebrate where we are while we can!

    Fickle game is footy.

  8. #8
    I well remember thinking exactly that during a 4th Division, Tuesday night away game in December at Southend. If memory serves me right we got thumped 4-0 and Mark Monington suffered a horrendous knee injury.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Funny Bt, but wherever we have played in the football pyramid I have always felt the same connection to Burnley.

    We all remember the big games, but we had plenty of big games (to us) while we were in the lower leagues.

    I vividly remember wildly celebrating goals in Div 4 just as much as today. Northampton at home in the same season as the Orient game.

    But we all want the Clarets to be as successful as possible and I am enjoying our present spell in the Prem as much as I can because we realise it won't last forever!

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