Burnley - All Our Yesterdays

Tomorrow sees Burnley’s first League visit to us for over 34 years. As I rapidly approach the coffin dodging stage of my life I have to confess that I was there at Highbury the last time we played the Lancastrians for League points at home. It was the 1975/6 season. Our European Fairs Cup and Double triumphs were rapidly fading into the past and we were sinking into mediocrity, relegation danger.
Our team on that pre-Christmas December afternoon was:
Jimmy Rimmer in goal, Pat Rice and Richie Powling at full-back, Peter Simpson and Terry Mancini at centre back, George Armstrong, Liam Brady, Eddie Kelly and Alan Ball in midfield and John Radford and Brian Kidd up front.
Pat Rice had played in the 1971 Double team. Peter Simpson, Eddie Kelly, John Radford and George Armstrong had too, also appearing against Anderlecht in the 1970 European Fairs Cup win. All five were products of the Arsenal youth scheme. Jimmy Rimmer, the eternal reserve to Alex Stepney at Old Trafford, and Brian Kidd has been bought from Manchester United.  Kidd had played and scored for United against Benfica at Wembley in the 1968 European Champion Clubs’ Cup Final (forerunner of the UEFA Champions League). Rimmer was on the bench for that game (in that era the only substitute allowed in that competition was a reserve goalkeeper. No outfield substitutes were allowed).
Richie Powling was a product of our youth scheme. Terry Mancini had been bought for £25,000 from Queen’s Park Rangers. Alan Ball had been bought for then huge sum of £225,000 from Everton and was a World Cup winner with England at Wembley in 1966. And then there was Liam Brady, my Arsenal king of kings by a very short head from Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry. He was just making his way in the football world as a nineteen year old product of our youth scheme, having arrived as a fifteen year old callow youth from Dublin. The lone substitute then permitted under Football League rules to be named and used was Frank Stapleton, another Irish product of our youth scheme.
Seven Englishmen, one four Irishmen (two, Brady and Stapleton from the Republic of Ireland, on, Rice, from Northern Ireland and one, Mancini, a Republic of Ireland international by descent on his mother’s side) and one Scotsman. No players from outside Britain and Ireland. They were banned until 1978. We managed the two points (three points for a win wouldn’t be introduced for another five seasons in 1981/2) with a single goal from without reply from John Radford. We finished seventeenth that season, Burnley finished 21st (22 teams in the top division then) and went down along with Wolves and Sheffield United. We were nine points above the drop (which would be thirteen points today with three points for a win). Too close for comfort. We’d finished sixteenth the season before. These two seasons were the last time we were seriously threatened with relegation.
Liam Brady and Pat Rice having departed respectively for Juventus and Watford respectively are both now back at the club of course.
About the only thing that’ll be the same tomorrow (aside from Pat Rice on the bench with Le Boss and Liam Brady in the stands) is that Burnley are fighting relegation. A lot has changed but some things seem to always remain the same.
Here’s to three points tomorrow. I’d like Burnley to stay up but I want us to keep on pushing for the title a LOT, LOT more.
Keep the faith!

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