The History of Burnley Football Club, is one that is littered with ups
and downs, Burnley for such a small industrial town in East
Lancashire had punched above it's weight in the world of Football
club plummet to the very basement of League Football, and
threaten the it's very life with extinction was waiting just around
The 1975-76 season was a very poor campaign, and by Christmas Jimmy
Adamson had been sack by Bob Lord, after a poor league run and another
disappointing FA Cup exit. The only bright spot seemed to be Peter Noble,
who was well on his way to scoring 20 goals in a season, but was injury
plagued the rest of his season. Jimmy Adamson was replaced by coach Jim
Brown, but he could not stop the slide, as the Clarets lost their top flight
status, and slid into the second Division after a defeat against Manchester
United on Easter Monday, and only 11,000 fans turned up to see it. It
appeared that a player revolt within the dressing room had occurred with
the sacking of Jimmy Adamson, and those divisions saw he Clarets
During Jim Browns first full season in charge, things did not as may Burnley
supporters had hoped, and he failed to guide the Clarets straight back into
the First Division, instead, Burnley toiled hard for results, and struggled to
be consistent. With 15 games to go, and Burnley next to the bottom of the
league, Joe Brown left the club. In stepped the prodigal son returned, Harry
Potts, the man who had help establish Burnley as a top side in the sixties,
was returned to his post as manager, after a short stint as manager of
Blackpool, and as Burnley's Chief scout.
The next four season saw Burnley struggle in the Second Division, never
really pushing for promotion, and the only real success was the
Anglo-Sottish Trophy triumph of the 1978-79 season, where Burnley
became the first English side to beat Celtic home and away.
But the following season had no such success,
and Burnley were relegated to the third division,
for the first time in their history. Harry Potts
himself had been sacked as manager in
October 1979, and Brian Miller, the only
Burnley player to have played in everyone of
the Clarets games in Europe, replaced him.
Burnley's first season in the Third Division, was also a tepid one, although
Brian Miller had brought in new players, to help rebuild the squad, it took
another season at this level before the team found it's feet, and they finally
won promotion, by winning the Third Division Title in the 1981-82 season.
The title was again won, without Burnley ever topping the league until the
very last game of the season, which was reminiscent of the 1959-60
campaign. Top scorer that season was fan favourite Billy Hamilton, bagging
20 goals, before he went to the World Cup in Spain with Northern Ireland.
The season also saw, a man loved and hated in
equal passion by Burnley fans finally leave the
club, Bob Lord, relinquished his position as
Chairman of Burnley Football Club in October
1981. He had been involved with the club since
1955, and he had seen the greatest of Burnley
teams to grace the Turf Moor pitch, he had also
built a stadium around the team, which was the
envy of most top flight football teams, and even
remained one of the best in the land until the
event of the Taylor Report that was published
after the Hilsborough disaster. Bob Lord was also heavily involved in the
Football League and eventually became acting present, just before he lost
his battle with cancer and died. Bob lord made his mark on Burnley
Football Club, and even though supporters levelled many criticisms at him,
he stood resolutely firm for his beliefs.
A trophy in Burnley's Centenary year had given Burnley supports hope that
their luck was changing, but Brian Miller started the 1982-83 season with
the same squad that ended the last season, and although it appears that
he made a number of attempts to buy players, non materialised. The
season ended with the Clarets going straight back down, but a good FA
Cup run and League Cup run gave some hope. Brian Miller was sacked on
the morning of an quarter final tie of the League Cup, against a star
studded Tottenham Hotspur. Frank Casper took over the side as caretaker
manager, and lead them to a remarkable 4-1 victory, which instantly made
up the Boards mind to offer Casper the job full time. Burnley lost the
semi-final leg to Liverpool, due to a first leg 0-3 defeat at Anfield.
The season ended with Burnley sinking even further down, as the Clarets
were relegated again to the Third Division. Frank Casper was quickly
replaced with the now infamous John Bond.
Bond, was at the time, one of the most
well known faces in football, and
expectations were high, as he bought
big, and sold off some of the clubs
young talent, players like Lee Dixon
and Trevor Stevens were replaced by
old Manchester City buddies. Captain
Martin Dobson was also shown the
door by Bond.
His first and only season lead to a 12th place finish, and Bond quickly
gathered up his things and moved elsewhere. In his stead, John Benson
came in, who had been Bond's assistant manager for most of the previous
season, but the season was a disaster, and the Clarets finished in 21st
place, and were relegated to the basement league of English football, the
Benson left the club, and a time of managerial instability followed as Martin
Buchan, a famous Manchester United and Scotland player and Tommy
Cavanagh both had quick stints as manager of the Clarets, but to no avail.
The Burnley board was quickly losing fans, money and possible it's league
status, as the heavy financial burden of both playing in the Fourth Division
and wages of the remnants John Bonds elderly team took it's toll.
The 1986-87 season is one that will be remembered by every Burnley fan,
even if they were not there or born at the time, it was to be the most
dramatic, heart rendering and at times unbearable season the Clarets
would ever play.
The board looked to a Burnley old boy to help
start the re-building process, and Brian Miller
fitted the bill, Miller has always had Burnley at
heart playing 450 times for the club, and being
involved in virtually every stage of management
within the club, and it seemed like a logical
choice, but the cogs of history were turning, and
setting a collision course between Burnley and
their date with destiny.
The 1986-87 season saw the Football League
implement a relegation place to the Vauxhall
Conference, at the bottom of the Fourth Division,
a place which Burnley familiarised it's self with on
a number of occasions that season, so bad was
the league form that a 0-6 defeat by Hereford
United was watched by just over 2,000 supporters.
As the season struggled on, Miller tried his best to keep the club from
going down, a position which on the final game of the season against
Leyton Orient looked a certainty. On 9th May 1987, the most important
game in the history of Burnley Football Club was played out, and the out
come wasn't even in Burnley's hands.
The Club board had made it clear that defeat (draw or even a win unless
Lincon were defeated at Crewe) would bring about the death of Burnley.
On that day, gone were the twists and turns of Jimmy McIlroy, the darting
runs of John Connelly, and in the place were eleven lions, who battled and
grinded out a 2-1 win in front of over 17,000 fans and the worlds press,
who had come to see a famous club die. Maybe it was fate, because as
Burnley won, Lincon lost, and football league status was preserved.
Burnley Football Club was reborn on that day.
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