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It wouldn’t happen today, but sixty years ago England prepared for the Home International against Scotland by playing a game against a league club and on this occasion they chose to play Burnley at Turf Moor.

It followed a similar game two years earlier and so in 1960 the England team rolled up at Turf Moor to take on a Burnley side who were third in the First Division. And the football might of England were nearly humbled by a Burnley side which included four reserves. It would not have been a serious set back, and not one for the record book, for the game was classed as no more than a practice to give the international side the opportunity to achieve an on-the-field understanding in preparation for the game at Hampden Park.

The England Team
Back: Ronnie Clayton, Bobby Robson, Harold Shepherdson, Bill Slater, Jimmy Armfield, Peter Broadbent, Ray Wilson, Ron Flowers, Ray Parry
Front: John Connelly, Ron Springett, Joe Baker, Bobby Charlton

Was there some sort of trepidation about Burnley’s Scots indulging in some form of sabotage? Both Adam Blacklaw and Bobby Seith were retired to spectatorial isolation in the stand, while Jim Furnell took over in goal from Adam Blacklaw. Jimmy Adamson was right-half and Billy Marshall left-back. Trevor Meredith and Ronnie Fenton formed a reserve right-wing partnership, with John Connelly an ‘enemy’ in the England ranks. Both Jimmy McIlroy and Alex Elder were absent. They were both in North Wales ready to do battle on behalf of Northern Ireland against the Welsh.

The England team arrived in the rain from Manchester, and played in the rain at Turf Moor. After preliminary shooting in the officials for the match officials appeared – referee Mr George Bray; linesmen Messrs W. Morris (red flag) and Mr J. Scott (yellow flag) amid great cheers from the junior players and ground staff, from vantage points in the stand.

Mr Walter Winterbottom, in tracksuit, had a close up view of proceedings from the touchline and it was not long before he was exhorting his forwards to have a go when they worked to within shooting distance but persisted in trying to find one another in face of quick covering. There were times when Burnley seemed keen to demonstrate that the best way to prevent England scoring was to keep the ball themselves, which was nice to watch but not much practice for the internationals who waited patiently for the home team to accomplish something with their ‘from me to you’ idea of combination.

Ron Flowers, one of Wolverhampton’s instruments of destruction against Burnley a week earlier unleashed a tremendous shot in his attempt to live up to the manager’s exhortation to shoot, and the ball cannoned back off the wall only inches wide. Bobby Charlton blinded a right foot drive over the top from a Connelly centre which had developed from a move involving Ronnie Clayton and Ray Parry.

Then Brian PILKINGTON lured the England defence to the centre, hit a long pass out to the unmarked Meredith and was in position to slam the cross pass past Ron Springett and that was repeated when PILKINGTON dribbled over the line as the defence seemed admiring but uncertain as Fenton flung himself to miss another Meredith centre from Ray Pointer’s pass.

England got back into the game. A penalty was awarded when CHARLTON hit the soggy turf. He took the kick himself, and gave a perfect example of the art of sending the keeper the wrong way from a penalty.

Burnley could have had more goals if they had centred with more accuracy or used the diagonal pass which was on with Pointer and Jimmy Robson poised for a breakthrough. However, there appeared to be a slavish interest for the square pass. England tried a few short corners before they drew level with a soft one. MARSHALL pushed a pass back as Furnell came out. The Burnley goalkeeper slipped and the ball aggravatingly rolled away from him and slowly over the line.

This livened Burnley and Brian Miller shot wide. Robson missed from Pilkington. Meredith centred badly. Then it was a bad home pass which enabled CHARLTON to breakaway and restore England’s honour if not prestige. That proved to be the winner and then England were to learn more from Burnley. Almost immediately before the game ended, the England side were given a demonstration of Burnley’s free kick variations on a two-man theme which must have proved an interesting experience.

The teams were;

Burnley: Jim Furnell, John Angus, Billy Marshall, Jimmy Adamson, Tommy Cummings, Brian Miller, Trevor Meredith, Ronnie Fenton, Ray Pointer, Jimmy Robson, Brian Pilkington.

England: Ron Springett (Sheffield Wednesday), Jimmy Armfield (>Blackpool), Ray Wilson (Huddersfield Town), Ronnie Clayton Blackburn Rovers), Bill Slater Wolverhampton Wanderers), Ron Flowers (Wolverhampton Wanderers), John Connelly (Burnley), Peter Broadbent (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Joe Baker (Hibernian), Ray Parry (Bolton Wanderers), Bobby Charlton (Manchester United). 12th Man: Bobby Robson (West Bromwich Albion).

Referee: Mr George Bray (Burnley FC).

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