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Back home following the defeat at Gillingham a week earlier in 1998, Burnley couldn’t record a third win of the season and had to settle for a draw against Wigan Athletic with another late goal costing us.

It was potentially a time of change for council tenants in town. Burnley Borough Council were proposing to sell off their 5,600 houses to a non-profit making company but were giving their tenants the opportunity to make the decision.

The plan was to hold a ballot in 1974 but there were concerns that there would be a lack of funding should the decision be against the move to sell. Mr Ian Saville, the director of community services, reported that in 1994/95 the council was spending £4.3 million on improvements but it had now dropped to £922,000 of which £700,000 came from the Government via the sale of council houses and that source was about to run out.

It’s always about money and that seemed to have put the brakes on the Westgate link road scheme that would leave the road traffic free apart from the bus services. It didn’t help though when the bus operators considered that any benefits would be minimal.

That obviously proved too much for one Burnley bus driver who had given up his job and decided to emigrate to the Dominican Republic, taking his wife and a bus with him. Colin O’Hare (45) and his wife Audrey were going to drive 3,500 with Manchester United’s open top double decker bus so he could take children on trips.

Mr O’Hare explained: “I wanted to do something for the children on the island, it’s a Third World country and when you go into the mountains there are villages where the children don’t know what the beach is. People there are still living in shacks.”

Cable television was continuing to improve in the area with Cable & Wireless now the provider in Burnley. Their aggressive advertising was aimed at getting people to switch their home phones from BT and they were offering their television service and phone for less than a BT phone line. For £8.87 per month for the first three months, you would also receive access to Sky One, Sky News, BBC News 24, Eurosport and UK Gold. There was no indication as to what the cost would be after the initial three months.

On the subject of telephones, the local police had launched a campaign which would see motorists prosecuted if they used mobile telephones whilst driving.  Sgt Russell Gregory was very concerned and advised that the phones should not be used even if hands free. He applauded those who pulled in safely before taking calls but added: “Some people even stop dead in the middle of the road just to take a call.”

Burnley’s Chris Brass had come in for some criticism after promoting the launching of a bus service to the new Trafford Centre. One Burnley reader, Sara Attwood-Jones, felt this was detrimental to the shopping experience in Burnley and asked whether Chris would be as happy to wave off a regular service to Manchester United’s home games.

Supporters by this time had really had enough of the Peter Shackleton farce and the club’s unwillingness to speak to Ray Ingleby. One group of Burnley fans who were members of an internet email group had decided to go for it themselves and had set a target of raising £3 million to secure a stake in the club. The suggestions were that a £1,000 investment would be required per person.

Meanwhile, the Clarets Independent Supporters’ Association, had earmarked the home game against Notts County for a protest. They were asking that supporters would remain in their seats for twenty minutes after the game had finished in a peaceful demonstration.

Burnley ground director Clive Holt said of the suggestion: “They are entitled to their views as long as they do not break the law,” and CISA chairman Peter Heywood explained: “It is clear to everyone that major investment and new ideas are desperately needed without delay. Fans bought season tickets on the back of both promised change and millions. This farce over the proposed takeover is beyond belief and certainly not acceptable.”

Heywood stressed that the fans should, at all times, give full support to the team and on this day that meant the home game against Wigan, a team we had beaten in our first ever game against them but not since in nine fixtures.

Andy Payton looking to get a shot on goal

Manager Stan Ternent said: “Someone told me about Burnley’s record against Wigan, and it’s quite amazing.” He joked: “I’ve not been sleeping well as it is.” He then added: “It is a tough game, but they all are. It is important to get back to winning ways and hopefully that will be the case. “We are down to the bare bones because of injury and suspension, but we will just have to get on with it, you can’t do anything about it.”

It was another late show that cost the Clarets and another controversial goal that won Wigan a point but we started well and came close to a goal in only the second minute. Paul Smith, returning from injury, was a constant threat down the left, and twice we came close to converting his crosses.

Gavin Ward was forced into two easy saves but back at the other end we were so close to going in front with a spectacular Gordon Armstrong effort but there was a warning when Michael O’Neill, the current Northern Ireland manager, missed a good chance.

Right at the end of the first half, we should have been given a penalty for a clear hand ball. We didn’t get it and as the teams went off at half time, it was still 0-0, although we had been by far the better side.

Nothing much changed in the second half until, half way through it, we finally got ourselves in front. We won a free kick on the left taken by Smith. Wigan goalkeeper Roy Carroll fumbled it and the ball fell invitingly for Brian REID to volley home.

Andy Cooke tussles for the ball

A couple of half chances came our way but we didn’t capitalise and that allowed Wigan to stay in the game. Chris Brass cleared one effort off the line and we still led 1-0 as the game went past ninety minutes.

There had been one big talking point in the game and that was the constant theatrical diving of Wigan’s Paul Warne. Three times he farcically went down in the box only for referee Graham Frankland to ignore all his claims, but Frankland then fell for it and awarded them a ridiculous free kick.

It resulted in David Lee forcing Ward into a save at the expense of a corner which was headed home by Pat McGIBBON and Wigan had won themselves the most unlikely of points.

An angry Ternent said: “It wasn’t a free kick but the referee thought it was. I didn’t think it was a penalty at Chesterfield and I didn’t think the ball was over the line at Gillingham, but it doesn’t matter what I think.”

He was particularly pleased with his younger players, and added: “They gave all they had, but unfortunately sometimes you have to take it on the chin. No one did a lot wrong; we were just a little unfortunate.”

The teams were;

Burnley: Gavin Ward, Chris Scott, Chris Brass, Matt Heywood, Brian Reid, Gordon Armstrong, Glen Little, Mark Robertson, Paul Smith (Kevin Henderson 87), Andy Cooke, Andy Payton. Subs not used: Carl Smith, Colin Carr-Lawton.

Wigan: Roy Carroll, Scott Green, Leigh Jenkinson (Jorg Smeets 77), Pat McGibbon, Stuart Balmer, Paul Rogers (Roberto Martinez 88), David Lee, Colin Greenall, Michael O’Neill, Paul Warne, Stuart Barlow. Sub not used: Andy Porter.

Referee: Graham Frankland (Middlesbrough).

Attendance: 10,183.

Clarke Carlisle was the only player among the scorers with a Burnley connection. He scored in Blackpool’s 3-1 win at Stoke. It saw them move up to fourth and just four points behind Stoke who remained top. Preston and Bournemouth were second and third; Preston had been held by Gillingham at Deepdale while Bournemouth were home winners against Oldham.

Burnley remained in eighteenth place in the table although just a point above the drop zone.

Division Two Results

Saturday 26th September
Bournemouth 2 Oldham 0
Burnley 1 Wigan 1
Chesterfield 2 Wrexham 1
Colchester 2 Wycombe 1
Lincoln 1 Fulham 2
Luton 0 Walsall 1
Macclesfield 2 Reading 1
Northampton 2 Manchester City 2
Notts County 3 Millwall 1
Preston 1 Gillingham 1
Stoke 1 Blackpool 3
York 1 Bristol Rovers 0

Burnley Goalscorers

5: Andy Payton
2: Andy Cooke
1; Gordon Armstrong, Brian Reid

Leading Goalscorers

7: Barry Hayles (Bristol Rovers)
6: Stuart Barlow (Wigan),Dean Crowe (Stoke), Shaun Goater (Manchester City), Andy Rammell (Walsall)
5: Richard Cresswell (York), Kurt Nogan (Preston), Andy Payton (Burnley)
4: Phil Clarkson (Blackpool) Carlo Corazzin (Northampton), Steve Davis (Luton), David Eyres (Preston), Ian Hendon (Notts County), Graham Kavanagh (Stoke), Martin Williams (Reading)

League Table

Pos Team pld w d l f a gd pts
1 Stoke 10 8 0 2 17 8 9 24
2 Preston 10 6 3 1 22 11 11 21
3 Bournemouth 10 6 2 2 14 6 8 20
4 Blackpool 10 6 2 2 15 12 3 20
5 Walsall 9 6 1 2 14 10 4 19
6 Fulham 9 5 3 1 12 6 6 18
7 Luton 10 5 2 3 11 8 3 17
8 Manchester City 9 4 4 1 13 9 4 16
9 York 9 4 3 2 14 12 2 15
10 Colchester 10 4 3 3 12 11 1 15
11 Notts County 10 4 2 4 13 11 2 14
12 Chesterfield 10 4 2 4 6 8 -2 14
13 Bristol Rovers 10 3 4 3 14 11 3 13
14 Millwall 9 4 1 4 9 11 -2 13
15 Wrexham 10 3 3 4 11 14 -3 12
16 Gillingham 10 2 5 3 13 11 2 11
17 Wigan 10 3 2 5 11 11 0 11
18 Burnley 10 2 3 5 9 13 -4 9
19 Northampton 10 1 5 4 10 14 -4 8
20 Macclesfield 10 2 2 6 5 11 -6 8
21 Oldham 10 2 2 6 9 16 -7 8
22 Reading 8 1 2 5 7 16 -9 5
23 Lincoln 10 1 2 7 7 18 -11 5
24 Wycombe 9 0 2 7 5 15 -10 2
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