Champions Burnley kick off with home win against Swansea
Burnley won the Championship last season to move into the Premier League for a third time, and just under a week ago the 2016/17 fixtures revealed that we would kick off with a home game against Swansea City.
It’s not the first time we’ve played Swansea on the opening day of the season; 24 years ago we kicked off at home against them as champions, although on that occasion as the last ever winners of the Fourth Division.
It hadn’t been the smoothest of summers for Burnley and manager Jimmy Mullen despite the euphoria of promotion. In the previous season we’d used a whole collection of different goalkeepers and with only David Williams remaining at Turf Moor a new keeper was a priority. Unfortunately there was no new goalkeeper as we prepared for the visit of Swansea and, in fact, we’d made only two new signings.
The first of them was Maidstone left-back Les Thompson. Because he hadn’t been receiving his wages at Maidstone he was entitled to a free transfer. He would have had to find a new club in any case with Maidstone folding during the close season but Mullen was delighted with the capture, claiming: “This move proves the pulling power that Burnley Football Club has within the game.”
He was followed by Northern Ireland international winger Steve Penney. He’d been a crowd favourite at Brighton previously but injuries had blighted his time there and he’d spent the previous season at Hearts where he was only able to play nine times because of more injuries.
Neither would have much of an impact during the 1992/93 season. Thompson went on to start just two league games, making one further appearance as a substitute, and Penney again suffered with injuries which restricted him to ten league starts and one substitute appearance.
It wasn’t just a struggle getting players in; we also had problems getting existing players to sign new deals and the whole summer was a will they or won’t they story as to whether Roger Eli, John Francis and John Pender would actually agree to new contracts with Burnley.
By the time the Swansea game came round, Eli had signed, Francis had opted to move to Cambridge and Pender was placed on a week-to-week deal until such time as he did sign a new contract. He was also stripped of the captaincy with Joe Jakub leading the side out for the first game.
Pre-season had been good to us, so there was some real enthusiasm ahead of the game. We beat Bury on penalties to lift the Marsden Lancashire Cup and had staged two prestigious home friendles against Chelsea and Dynamo Moscow. We beat Chelsea 1-0 with a Mike Conroy goal but were beaten 4-2 by the Russian side with Conroy again on the scoresheet alongside Steve Harper.
For the first game outside the bottom division since we’d won 3-2 at Walsall in May 1985, Mullen’s chosen line up was: David Williams, Ian Measham, John Pender, Andy Farrell, Joe Jakub, Steve Penney, John Deary, Adrian Randall, Steve Harper, Robbie Painter, Mike Conroy. Subs not used: Mark Yates, Paul McKenzie.
Swansea, who included former Burnley loanee Mark Harris, lined up: Roger Freestone, Des Lyttle, Steve Jenkins (John Ford), Keith Walker, Mark Harris, Russell Coughlin (Jason Bowen), Tony Cullen, Colin Pascoe, Andy McFarlane, John Cornforth, Andy Legg.
When next season’s Premier League season kicks off, should I write, in my opening report, that it wasn’t a classic but a solitary goal gave Burnley all three points in a 1-0 win, I’m sure most will be absolutely delighted. That’s exactly what happened on 15th August 1992.
It was a hard fought game with defences on top for the most part, both sides, after a few scares, even coming to terms eventually with the new rule which prevented goalkeepers from picking the ball up when passed back to them by a team mate.
Burnley started the better of the two after an early escape but by half time Swansea had wrestled the initiative away from us and we were the more relieved of the two sides to hear the half time whistle.
The game probably needed to step up a notch and it certainly did in a feisty start to the second half with one or two hard challenges going in. John Deary was certainly unhappy when Colin Pascoe flattened Steve Harper and his involvement led to an altercation with Swansea’s Russell Coughlin. It was a surprise that neither of the two players were booked by referee Alan Dawson.
But the game was nearly lost, and then won, in a five minute spell just past the hour. Firstly, Swansea should have gone in front when Andy McFarlane went clear to go one-on-one against Williams. He got caught in two minds and that gave Williams the chance to block the shot.
Burnley went straight back on the attack and Robbie Painter slipped as he tried to shoot, but then the deadlock was finally broken with 23 minutes of the game remaining with Adrian Randall, the game’s best player, at the centre of it.
He’d been involved in all Burnley’s good work and on this occasion he picked up a loose ball not too far from the Swansea penalty area. He moved forward, skipping past three defenders, before hitting over the perfect cross for PENNEY to head home on his debut.
Randall himself almost doubled the lead on two occasions, only to be denied twice by goalkeeper Roger Freestone and then it was all hands to the pumps in the last few minutes as Swansea threw in the proverbial kitchen sink to try and rescue a point.
But we hung on and claimed all three points to kick off the new season and Penney had made a goalscoring start to his Burnley career.
I suppose a repeat result this year would lead to the Burnley fans singing “24, 24 undefeated,” but a word of warning, back in 1992 we picked up only two points from the next five games before our second win against Mansfield.Share this page :