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It’s Boxing Day, one of the big days in the football calendar. Middlesbrough are due at Turf Moor this afternoon but it’s time to look back at a Boxing Day fixture some 44 years ago when we travelled to Bloomfield Road to face Blackpool.

This was the biggest game of the day in the Second Division with leaders Burnley facing a Blackpool side that had just suffered a big 4-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest last time out, a result which saw them drop to third in the table with QPR moving into second place.

Memories were fresh for Burnley fans who had seen us beaten easily on two previous visits in 1972. We had lost 4-2 at Easter in the previous season but it could have been much worse. Trailing 4-0, Blackpool failed to convert a penalty and Burnley then came back with two Frank Casper goals. Huge demonstrations against manager Jimmy Adamson followed outside the ground at the end of the game but he remained in the job and was in charge when we lost 2-0 in a pre-season friendly at the beginning of August.

It's 1-0 as Frank Casper gives us the lead

It’s 1-0 as Frank Casper gives us the lead

If the game wasn’t big enough already, Blackpool were now under new management, and very familiar management to Burnley fans with Harry Potts, who had departed Turf Moor in the previous summer, set for his first home game in charge.

This was very much a game of two halves. The first half saw us witness some magnificent football but the second half degenerated into a complete shambles as referee Ted Jolly took over which led to Blackpool ending the game with nine men with Potts saying afterwards: “It was a great game spoiled.”

All the good football came in the first half with Burnley twice going in front. The first came after only ten minutes. Goalkeeper Alan Stevenson hit a long clearance that was picked up by CASPER who forced his way past Terry before slotting the ball past home goalkeeper John Burridge.

It was a first goal in 14 games for Casper and his team mates were quick to join him for the goal celebrations; he went on to have an outstanding game.

Burnley were dominating. Blackpool’s only threat came from the pace of Micky Burns and the aerial prowess of Billy Rafferty who was giving Colin Waldron a difficult afternoon. They came back with these two and forced Stevenson into four very good saves in a ten minute spell.

Just when we looked as though we’d weathered the storm, the pair combined to bring Blackpool level. Rafferty played the ball out to Burns. He sped past Jim Thomson and crossed to the far post where RAFFERTY headed home.

It did no more than spur on the Clarets who were simply superb for the rest of the half. We should have had two penalties, both ignored by referee Jolly. It left us frustrated and the 1-1 half time scoreline didn’t do our performance justice.

Blackpool had both Dave Hatton and Alcock booked early in the second half; Thomson followed for Burnley. You sensed things were hotting up and just past the hour it was 11 v 10 after a touchline skirmish between Mick Docherty and Blackpool debutant Kevin Tully.

Burnley celebrate the winning goal

Burnley celebrate the winning goal

Suddenly, Tully lashed out and, with the home fans hurling abuse at the referee and Docherty, he was sent off. Some of the Blackpool players targeted Docherty but it was Doug Collins who was next to find himself in the referee’s notebook. By now Blackpool had lost their heads as Burnley tried to play football.

Martin Dobson was close with a header but then, twelve minutes from the end, we got the winner. Casper started the move with a pass down the left for Keith Newton. He got down the line but his cross was too close to Burridge who punched clear but only to the edge of the penalty box. There it found the lurking CASPER who brilliantly chipped the ball back over the goalkeeper’s head to win the game for Burnley.

There was time for Blackpool to go down to nine men; Alcock getting sent off for a bad foul on Casper. Hatton, the Blackpool captain, admitted after the game that they were so enraged with Jolly’s handing of the game that he almost took his players off the field in protest.

It could have been more. Paul Fletcher missed a chance and right on time Casper was inches away from a hat trick. But it was two more points for the Clarets and still a three point lead over QPR who beat Orient 3-1.

The teams were;

Blackpool: John Burridge, Dave Hatton, Peter Hardcastle, Terry Alcock, Peter Suddaby, Kevin Tully, Micky Burns, Alan Suddick, Billy Rafferty, Keith Dyson, Alan Ainscow. Sub not used: Bill McGrotty.

Burnley: Alan Stevenson, Mick Docherty, Keith Newton, Martin Dobson, Colin Waldron, Jim Thomson, Geoff Nulty, Frank Casper, Paul Fletcher, Doug Collins, Leighton James. Sub not used: Billy Ingham.

Referee: Mr E. Jolly (Middleton).

Attendance: 25,277.

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