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It was the biggest game of the season with league leaders Leeds visiting Turf Moor and although we couldn’t quite become the first team to beat them, we turned in an outstanding performance against them.

There had been considerable confusion over the potential new Calder Valley motorway scheme with news of delays, then no delays, but the Prime Minister Edward Heath, who was set to visit the area during November, made it clear in a letter to Burnley MP Dan Jones when he wrote: “The Minister for Transport Industries has promised to take special account of the contribution it would make to North East Lancashire’s development when he examines the priorities for highway expenditure for 1975 and subsequent years.”

So, 1975 at the earliest and Mr Jones wasn’t at all happy with the news. “This in my opinion is a breach of promise,” he said, adding: “We were all, in fact, led to believe that the highway would start early in 1974. I am writing to the Town Clerk of Burnley in his capacity as secretary of the North East Lancashire Development Committee, asking him to bring this matter to the attention of the committee chairman to determine what action should be taken. I am not at all satisfied with the situation.”

Never mind that, there was much bigger news in Briercliffe where local actors were having to learn new lines for a play after a church’s dramatic society production was deemed unacceptable by the Rev Peter Hallam who wanted some of the language censored, his demand coming just days before opening night. The play was Benn Levy’s ‘The Member for Gaza’ and it led to resignations which included Councillor Ivan Limmer who confirmed: “I have resigned on the censorship question. I do accept that the vicar has a right to say what goes on in buildings he is responsible for, but I don’t see any point in being on a committee which is overruled by one man on grounds of taste.”

Whilst on the subject of entertainment and bad taste, the Odeon cinema in Burnley was soon to close its doors. Many had hoped they would screen a blockbuster to end its days but the choice of final film upset some and did at least force a change.

There were protests from St. Mary’s Convent of Mercy when it was announced that the final film to be shown just a short distance away would be ‘Sex in a Covent’ and their protests were heard with the Odeon confirming a change. Instead they confirmed that ‘The Language of Love’ a sex education film would replace it.

A youth appeared before Burnley Juvenile Panel following the incidents of hooliganism at the Rose Room in Burnley but he turned things upside down when he revealed that he had been beaten up in the police cells following his arrest. PC Walne admitted hitting him in the face with his fist and then punched him really hard in the chest. This had taken place at the Rose Room but the 15-year-old was adamant that there was further violence to him later which was denied.

Dennis Fletcher, a 20-year-old Coventry fan, was in court following an incident at the Burnley v Coventry game earlier in the season. He was accused of stabbing a Burnley supporter twice in the back with a knife. Mr. Raymond Bennett (prosecuting) told the court that the injured man was taken to hospital bleeding badly from wounds either side of his spine in the small of his back.

Mr Fletcher admitted the offence and was sentenced to six months detention. He was told by Judge Philip Kershaw: “You have pleaded guilty to wounding this lad with intent. You stabbed him twice in the back with a knife. Conduct of this kind cannot be overlooked.”

Mr Anthony Jolley (defending) offered mitigation by telling the court that his client had been to an all night party and had then followed that up by drinking eight pints of beer at lunchtime ahead of the game. Fletcher said: “I got left behind by our main group. I let the bloke have it a few times.” The victim had fully recovered and I think Fletcher got off quite lightly given the court were told that he already had four similar convictions.

Prior to the big game against Leeds, there was other news coming out of Turf Moor which started with an update on the delayed League Liner train for the game at West Ham. The Football League had taken up the case following Burnley’s protests to British Rail and the club confirmed that all fans who travelled would receive £1 back in compensation. The cost of the excursion had been £7.

Martin Dobson was released by Bolton Wanderers in 1967 and the same club’s manager told a 17-year-old Paul Fletcher: “You’ll never make a professional footballer as long as you live.” I wonder what they were thinking over at Bolton in this week when Dobson received his first call up to the full England squad and Fletcher was included for the first time in the under-23 squad.

Dobson said on his call up: “Every player hopes that one day he’ll be selected for his country and of course this is a great honour for me. It was the coaching staff at Burnley who spotted that my assets would be best suited to midfield. I’ve a lot to thank them for.”

Martin Dobson sees his shot blocked by Paul Madeley

Jimmy Adamson said that he knew this day would come for Dobson sooner rather than later and of Fletcher, he said: “He’s always been good in the air since he arrived from Bolton but he’s had to work hard to improve other parts of his game. He is now reaping the reward.”

Much of the talk ahead of the game against Leeds was of our wonderful 5-1 win against them in October 1968 in a season when they won the league. We never threatened a repeat this time but the Clarets emerged with a lot of credit from this game which ended goalless. For long periods, Burnley had Leeds pinned back in defence and a reporter at the game who covered Leeds said he had seen no other team put Leeds under so much pressure.

This game was nothing like the 0-0 draw against Manchester United in the last home game. That was a bore draw but not this one, it was an absorbing game played in poor conditions in front of the biggest Turf Moor crowd of the season.

Leeds had the better of the opportunities in the first half but Adamson switched Geoff Nulty and Peter Noble at half time and we were the better team then and three times came close to breaking the deadlock.

The first of them saw a Noble header scrambled away and then a centre from Nulty landed on Dobson’s foot just eight yards from goal but he wanted too much time and couldn’t get his shot in. Then, eight minutes from time, Dobson centred the ball and it looked as though it was going to give Doug Collins the opportunity only for Gordon McQueen to get a touch on it to take it away from the Burnley midfielder.

Ray Hankin clashes with goalkeeper David Harvey and is forced off with double vision

Three minutes later, we were inches away from defeat when an Allan Clarke shot came back off the post but had that gone in, it would have been so cruel on Burnley.

We’d played so well but just couldn’t get that goal against this Leeds team who were, undoubtedly, the best in the country at the time. But on this day, Leeds needed to be at their best and most resolute to ensure a point. They surprisingly only received two bookings too as they resorted to the Leeds no one liked far too often.

Colin Waldron and Jim Thomson had been inspirational in defence with Dobson and Collins pulling the strings in midfield while Noble, who was doing so well at right-back, showed again what an effective midfielder he could be.

Leeds? Peter Higgs of the Burnley Express wrote: “I wouldn’t argue with anyone who says they’ll win the title, but they are not unbeatable and despite what some people will have you believe, they won’t go through the season without losing.”

The final word was with captain Dobson, our potential next England international. He said: “The way we got on top in the second half showed that we can match the best around.”

The teams were;

Burnley: Alan Stevenson, Peter Noble, Keith Newton, Martin Dobson, Colin Waldron, Jim Thomson, Geoff Nulty, Ray Hankin (Billy Ingham 66), Doug Collins, Leighton James.

Leeds: David Harvey, Paul Reaney, Trevor Cherry, Billy Bremner, Gordon McQueen, Norman Hunter, Peter Lorimer, Allan Clarke, Mick Jones, Mick Bates (Joe Jordan 61), Paul Madeley.

Referee: Mr J. Yates (Redditch).

Attendance: 40,087.

Burnley had dropped to third a week earlier and this result saw his drop a further place to fourth with Newcastle beating Stoke to move ahead of both of us due to their better goal average. We were now all six points behind Leeds who had the biggest win of the day, beating West Ham 4-1.

West Ham remained next to bottom with Birmingham, who won a point at Sheffield United, moving within one point of them. Norwich beat Leicester and that saw them move ahead of Wolves and out of the bottom three.

First Division Results

Saturday 10th November 1973
Birmingham 1 Southampton 1
Burnley 0 Leeds 0
Chelsea 3 Everton 1
Ipswich 3 Derby 0
Leicester 1 Newcastle 0
Liverpool 1 Wolves 0
Manchester City 1 Arsenal 2
QPR 3 Coventry 0
Stoke 2 Norwich 0
Tottenham 2 Manchester United 1
West Ham 2 Sheffield United 2

Burnley Goalscorers (League)

4: Paul Fletcher
3: Frank Casper, Doug Collins, Martin Dobson, Ray Hankin, Geoff Nulty
2: Leighton James, Colin Waldron

Burnley Goalscorers (Cups)

6: Leighton James
5: Paul Fletcher, Ray Hankin
3: Peter Noble, Geoff Nulty
1: Doug Collins, Martin Dobson, Colin Waldron

First Division Leading Goalscorers

9: Tommy Baldwin (Chelsea)
8: Mick Channon (Southampton), Mick Jones (Leeds), Malcolm MacDonald (Newcastle)
7: Stan Bowles (QPR), Derek Dougan (Wolves), Alan Woodward (Sheffield United)
6: Martin Chivers (Tottenham), Roger Davies (Derby), Kevin Hector (Derby), David Johnson (Ipswich), Peter Lorimer (Leeds), Peter Osgood (Chelsea)

League Table

Pos Team pld w d l f a ga pts
1 Leeds 15 11 4 0 29 8 3.63 26
2 Burnley 15 7 6 2 23 14 1.64 20
3 Newcastle 15 8 3 4 24 15 1.60 19
4 Liverpool 15 8 3 4 16 11 1.45 19
5 Everton 15 7 5 3 18 13 1.38 19
6 Ipswich 15 7 5 3 25 20 1.25 19
7 QPR 15 6 6 3 26 19 1.37 18
8 Derby 16 7 4 5 19 16 1.19 18
9 Southampton 15 6 5 4 21 20 1.05 17
10 Leicester 15 4 7 4 15 15 1.00 15
11 Coventry 16 6 3 7 14 17 0.82 15
12 Sheffield United 15 5 4 6 18 19 0.95 14
13 Manchester City 15 5 4 6 16 18 0.89 14
14 Tottenham 15 5 4 6 17 20 0.85 14
15 Arsenal 15 6 2 7 16 20 0.80 14
16 Chelsea 15 5 3 7 24 22 1.09 13
17 Stoke 15 3 6 6 17 18 0.94 12
18 Manchester United 15 4 4 7 13 17 0.76 12
19 Norwich 15 2 6 7 11 22 0.50 10
20 Wolves 15 3 3 9 15 26 0.58 9
21 West Ham 15 1 6 8 14 25 0.56 8
22 Birmingham 15 1 5 9 12 28 0.43 7
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