Big win against champions Wolves as TV war looms
Burnley had returned from bottom club Luton a week earlier sixty years ago with a point and were ready to face Wolves at home, the team that had lifted the League title for each of the previous two seasons.
The return journey had been a difficult one for the team in the previous week. Plans were changed ahead of the trip to Luton. The intention was to go by train but that was changed because of a strike by the British Rail buffet staff. I can only assume that Bob Lord would have wanted a sausage roll on the way down. They quickly arranged flights but on getting to London Airport on the Saturday evening found that Ringway Airport at Manchester was fog bound and they had to return to the hotel they’d used the night before.
Meanwhile the town of Burnley was preparing for the Remembrance Day service at the cenotaph. Today the service is held in the area behind where the Thompson Centre was but in 1959 it was in Towneley Park. Our picture shows the service on the Sunday.
In town a war had broken out over television. Things have changed now. There’s Sky, multi-channels, and the likes offering a wide choice of viewing but sixty years ago not only had digital TV not been heard of but this was also in the days before BBC2. The problem was that Ardal had been given exclusive rights for piped television in Burnley. That forced members of Burnley Television Dealers & Traders Association (BTDATA) to hold an emergency meeting. A BTDATA official said: “We think the Corporation have a moral obligation to all the dealers in town.” They were not appeased by the words of the Ardal chief who said they would all get their chance.
The corporation had also set up a committee of enquiry to look into the water fiasco that was just about over with the rain continuing in the area. Not quite over though, and ladies were told to go easy on the hair rinses. Apparently they were using far too much water.
You wouldn’t think the moving of a bus shelter would cause too much of a problem but it did in the council chamber when news came that the town centre shelter for buses to Padiham, Lowerhouse and Rosegrove, which had to be re-sited because of the building of the new Keirby Hotel, was being moved to Church Street. “To be quite candid I am not in favour,” cried Councillor J. Sutcliffe. He continued: “This bus stop should not get so far from Burnley town centre. We are now back to true Burnley weather. If people had to walk out from the town centre up Church Street it was not going to be very pleasant for them”.
The popularity of the cinema in the 1950s was beginning to fade as the new decade approached and the Savoy in Burnley had closed down. It was confirmed that the cinema building, on the corner of Manchester Road and Red Lion Street, was to be taken over by Martins Bank.
The Imperial at Nelson (better known as the Nelson Imp) was famed for pulling in the big stars but this time it was outdone by the Empress Ballroom in Burnley. Whilst the annual police ball was being kicked about in Nelson there was a big name at the Empress in top comedian Mr Cyril Fletcher. Nearly 1,000 local housewives and children laughed and applauded him as he quipped and spun his jokes and rhymes in typical Fletcher fashion for fifteen minutes. Then he slipped away to catch a return train to London. His visit to Burnley had lasted less than half an hour.
Recently we reported the sad death of Herbert Cheetham, the landlord of the Old Duke on Briercliffe Road. Herbert had been hit by a car on his way back home from the phone box where he’d just learned he’d become a granddad. The driver didn’t stop, indeed he sped away with his lights off in the hope he would not be seen. The following day PC Fred Settle was taking a walk and spotted a car in Steer Street with a cracked headlamp and what looked to be a new scratch. PC Settle’s observations led to the arrest and conviction of a 33-year-old butcher. He’d hit Mr Cheetham in the fatal crash but was fined just £20 for the offence.
Harry Potts named an unchanged team for the Wolves game on the Thursday morning and there was more good news for Burnley players. Brian Miller had been named as a reserve for the England under-23 game against France to be played at Roker Park in the following week. On the same day Alex Elder would win his first international recognition after being selected for Northern Ireland B against France in Belfast. Elder though would strangely play at right back in that game. Miller and Elder, along with the rest of the Burnley team, celebrated against Wolves with a famous 4-1 victory.
At the end of a football season supporters must cast their minds back in an indiscriminate review of the events, and while not gazing into any crystal ball about the future, I am prepared to think they will rate Burnley’s win over the Wanderers from Wolverhampton as one of the most memorable occasions of the year. It brought us back to the old argument that the better the team, the better Burnley will play and on this display who would blame anyone for querying this anomaly? For Wolverhampton Wanderers it was a more particular blow as they regarded this game as a curtain raiser to their European Cup match against Red Star.
The Wolverhampton defence had an anxious look under pressure and this was betrayed by their willingness to yield corners. It was the type of cut and thrust match in which a mistake might lead to a goal. This actually happened when Ron Flowers and Eddie Stuart had a momentary mix-up and Ray POINTER, alert to the main chance, completed their consternation by dashing up on Flowers’ attempted back pass and whipping it past the advancing Malcolm Finlayson who was left lying disgruntled and helpless as the ball bobbed gaily into the net.
Almost immediately the home supporters were brought back to their seats and square foot of concrete by an equaliser in the same minute. Flowers started the move and from a left-wing centre Robert MASON hammered the ball wide of Adam Blacklaw. It was ‘as you were’ and another hectic struggle for the lead. John Connelly, with Bobby Seith coming through, saw more of the ball and from a hard drive by the wingman Jimmy ROBSON executed a smart flick and diverted the ball from its original line of flight and so disconcerted and defeated Finlayson.
That was three goals in three minutes midway through the first half and then with the approach of the interval, those whose minds were on hot coffee rather than any possibility of another goal, heard with some surprise the roar which greeted a shock third which followed a left wing thrust with POINTER smashing the ball in to present Burnley with a two goal lead at a vital time.
The second period had the pace but not always the passing certainty of the first but more than once Finlayson proved that he is master of his own goal area even to the extent of knocking the head off any colleague who unwittingly interfered with his dart out to collect a high centre. His positional play thwarted some combined forward work which promised further goals whilst at the other end Blacklaw distinguished himself with a particularly great save from James Murray.
With memories of the last home match and the knowledge of how teams are capable of a sudden and unexpected revival against the Burnley defence, the Burnley supporters must have been anxious about even the two goal margin and sincerely wishing the Burnley team would put them out of their trepidation and draw away still further to reduce the chance of the Wolves striking back. CONNELLY obliged with Jimmy McIlroy executing the build up move, but this did not mean Wolverhampton were finished. Desperately they attempted to make the score respectable and tried long shots rather than waste time with close approach play, but their tide of success had ebbed against the Burnley defensive rock which looked more sound in its disposal of attacks and promptings of their own retaliatory raids than for some weeks.
The whole match left the home fans hoping for a repeat performance at a date none too distant. If they can rout Wolves 4-1, why not the visitors booked for weeks to come?
The victory saw Burnley move up to fifth, behind Wolves now only on goal average. Also above us with one point more were West Ham and Preston whilst Spurs led the table with a further point. Birmingham and Luton remained in the relegation positions and there has to be mention of Newcastle who recorded a massive 8-2 win against Everton which included a hat trick from prolific goalscorer Len White.
The teams were;
Burnley: Adam Blacklaw, John Angus, Alex Elder, Bobby Seith, Brian Miller, Jimmy Adamson, John Connelly, Jimmy McIlroy, Ray Pointer, Jimmy Robson, Brian Pilkington.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Malcolm Finlayson, Phil Kelly, Gerry Harris, Eddie Clamp, Eddie Stuart, Ron Flowers, Norman Deeley, Robert Mason, James Murray, Peter Broadbent, Des Horne.
Referee: Mr K. Howley (Billingham).
The reserves weren’t able to make it a double and went down to a 2-0 defeat at Hillsborough against Sheffield Wednesday with McAnearney and Young getting the goals for the home side.
First Division Results
7th November 1959
Birmingham 1 Luton 1
Burnley 4 Wolves 1
Chelsea 3 Blackburn 1
Leeds 3 Arsenal 2
Leicester 2 Sheffield Wednesday 0
Manchester United 3 Fulham 3
Newcastle 8 Everton 2
Preston 1 Nottingham Forest 0
Tottenham 0 Bolton 2
West Brom 2 Blackpool 1
West Ham 4 Manchester City 1