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Tomorrow I’ll be watching Burnley at Manchester City in the FA Cup and one day later it will be the 57th anniversary of my first ever FA Cup tie as a Burnley fan, and looking back to that day shows, apart from how old I’m getting, how things have changed so much in the FA Cup since the early 1960s.

There’ll be a big crowd in the Etihad Stadium tomorrow. Burnley have sold some 7,600 tickets for the game but that’s been helped by a dramatic reducing of the price from those charged for league games. It happens at many clubs now in this competition in attempts to get people in to watch the ties.

john connelly 300x500That certainly wouldn’t have happened in the early 1960s and that first game I witnessed, on 7th January 1961, ended in a 1-0 win for Burnley against struggling Third Division club Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic with John Connelly (pictured) scoring the only goal of the game with 12 minutes remaining.

The attendance was just short of 25,000 and to put that into some sort of perspective, it was more than had attended the previous home league game against Newcastle and almost 10,000 more than were at the next home league game against West Brom.

One other thing has changed too in the half century plus. Managers wouldn’t have even considered making wholesale team changes then. Burnley’s team for the Bournemouth game was exactly the same as had turned out against Newcastle.

When we played our 3rd round tie at Sunderland last year, Sean Dyche made six changes from that which had started at Manchester City in the previous league game and he’s already confirmed this week that he’ll rotate the squad again for this one.

It’s almost impossible to second guess the team although I don’t think there will be quite so many changes this year, simply because we don’t have the numbers right now. I would assume one of the central defenders will remain in the team, to play alongside Kevin Long, with Charlie Taylor almost certain to continue at left-back.

I doubt we’ll start with Dean Marney so I would assume that Ashley Westwood will replace one of Jack Cork or Steven Defour with the other in the starting line up. I do think Sam Vokes will get the opportunity to start up front.

I said it is impossible to second guess the team but I’ll go for: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Charlie Taylor, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Jack Cork, Ashley Westwood, Jon Walters, Jeff Hendrick, Sam Vokes. Subs: Anders Lindegaard, Phil Bardsley, Ben Mee, Dean Marney, Steven Defour, Nahki Wells, Ashley Barnes.

Our opponents are also going to make changes as confirmed yesterday by manager Pep Guardiola. We do know that they will be without Vincent Kompany who has a calf injury. Also out are Gabriel Jesus, Benjamin Mendy and Phil Foden, while Kyle Walker is unlikely to be risked. They could also have David Silva absent with him having been offered compassionate leave following the premature birth of his son Mateo.

This team I won’t attempt to second guess, but it will be a strong line up, that’s for certain.

I’m looking forward to it and a 1-0 win, like the one we got in 1961, would go down very nicely indeed. Someone, somewhere, will beat Manchester City.

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