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Only the League champions and FA Cup winners were guaranteed a place in Europe in the 1960s, one in each of the European Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup. For the rest it was a possible inclusion in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, and that was a competition that was restricted to teams from cities with trade fairs so, despite us often finishing in high positions in the league, we were always ruled out.

fairs cup 66Our hopes were boosted after we’d finished the 1965/66 season in third place in the table, behind just Liverpool and Leeds. This time we got the full backing of the Football League who nominated us, along with Leeds and West Brom, for places in the 1966/67 Fairs Cup competition.

So it was that manager Harry Potts made his way to Estoril in Portugal on Saturday 25th June 1966 for the Inter Cities Fairs Cup draw despite us still not sure whether there would be a place for us. A total of 70 clubs had applied for inclusion but in the end it was limited to 48 with those coming from 24 different countries.

The news soon reached Burnley that we were in and that our First Round opponents would be West German club Hannover 96. Not only that we also learned that should we beat them then we would be up against Utrecht (Netherlands) or Basel (Switzerland) in the next round.

For 22 clubs it was to be bad news as they failed to win a place, although a small number, including Manchester United and AC Milan, were put on the reserve list should there be any need for changes. That’s right, the same Manchester United, who dominated English football throughout the earlier years of the Premier League, and AC Milan, who have been one of Italy’s most successful clubs.

It was celebration time at the Turf and chairman Bob Lord said it was an honour that a small town like Burnley should have a team fit to rank with those from the major cities of Europe. But he wasn’t going to miss his opportunity to have a go at those who he felt had not given us the support he felt we deserved.

“A lot of people who were misinformed or ill-informed have had the privilege of making statements against the club,” he said. “But it is rather peculiar that from those in the game who know something about the game, we get nothing but pats on the back. They realise that there must be something different done at Burnley even to keep a side in the First Division.”

And he had a go at the local council too adding, “It is not for me to say what they should do but I don’t think they do anything to enhance and build up the club in the eyes of the public.” Lord had been upset over the council’s poor effort on the occasion of Viscount Montgomery’s visit. Much to his disgust, they had only provided a small luncheon party.

But to Europe and a Hannover side managed by Helmut Kronsbein, a good friend of both manager Harry Potts and coach Jimmy Adamson, so much so that the two sides were already due to meet in a pre-season game during Burnley’s tour of West Germany.

Kronsbein, a regular visitor to Burnley, had already been singing the praises of Alex Elder, Gordon Harris, Brian O’Neil and Ralph Coates, claiming them to be amongst the best young players around.

Club secretary Albert Maddox announced that the club had not decided as yet whether to play the first leg at home or away – so we must have had a choice in those days – and said the club would also decide whether the prices would be increased from those for the normal league games.

Chairman Lord claimed to be against any such price rise but thought his fellow directors might outvote him on this one – as if that was ever possible under Lord’s chairmanship. He did though demand that the town come out and support European football, attendances at the European Cup ties six years earlier had been disappointing according to him and he wasn’t going to have that again.

There were still some weeks to go before the start of the new season but the news had really got the town excited and some supporters were even starting to save for a trip to Hannover. And just as a taster some of the other clubs in the competition were Porto, Barcelona, Valencia, Napoli, Red Star Belgrade, Benfica and Juventus. Not a bad line up.

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