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After the trial matches against the Whites (the reserve team) and Glentoran, the 1959/60 season finally got underway on 22nd August 1959 with Burnley travelling to Elland Road to play Leeds United at a ground where we hadn’t recorded a win since April 1927.

The big news in the town that week was the opening of the new Empress Block in the town centre, a block that included the much talked about new Empress Hotel, bringing with it the first big change in the town centre shopping area that would get a complete overhaul during the 1960s. The block, of course, is still there today , but the hotel is long gone.

Brian Pilkington scored the first goal of the season
Brian Pilkington scored the first goal of the season

As one place opened another closed with finances forcing the closure of one of the town’s flagships. The Mechanics Institute, next door to the Town Hall, was auctioning everything off as its life came to an end. Billiard tables worth hundreds of pounds didn’t even reach their reserve price of £5, although one did finally sell for £4, whilst keen local photographic club member Mrs Mona Turner snapped up all the photographic equipment for something and nothing.

It wasn’t the only sale in town either, the Co-op were holding their big summer sale. You could get Brillo Pads for just 1/- (5p) per packet whilst a men’s raincoat would have set you back £2 10 shillings.

However, as we turned to the football there were injuries within the camp but to more than balance that there was also some wonderful news about one of the Burnley players. Thankfully the injuries didn’t affect the first team but the reserves were badly hit. Jimmy Scott, Gordon Harris, Walter Joyce and Andy Lochhead were all ruled out of the reserve team opener (also against Leeds) and because of this Harry Potts was forced to delay the announcement of the first team until Friday morning.

Despite those injuries the reserves were able to claim a 1-0 win and that really did come against the odds. Trevor Meredith was stretchered off with a fractured shin bone after just 13 minutes and that meant playing most of the game with ten men. Ian Towers also found himself with a bad chin injury but it didn’t prevent him scoring the only goal of the game four minutes before half time.

Our reserve team was: Furnell, Pickup, Marshall, Walker, Talbut, Cockburn, Meredith, White, Lawson, McAuley, Towers.

As the first team boarded their coach for Leeds they were greeted with the superb news that goalkeeper Colin McDonald, who had suffered a broken leg earlier in the year playing for the Football League, had taken a big step towards recovery. He’d been hospitalised because of chest complications after the injury but had now been cleared by the hospital. He’d also been able to discard his walking stick and start some remedial exercises.

The heat wave continued and the opener at Elland Road was played in what was described as ‘oven heat’ and it was the home side who turned up that heat in the opening exchanges. Three times in the opening twenty minutes they created easy chances but contrived to miss all three. Former Burnley centre-forward Alan Shackleton created one of the chances with a good pass and the Burnley Express reported that the familiar roar of ‘Go on Shack’ was heard but in a Yorkshire accent. Burnley supporters, and there was a large contingent, weren’t happy with him though after one bad foul on Tommy Cummings who played an outstanding game at left back.

We did survive that early onslaught and started to dictate the pace of the game. Within no time we were in total control and helped ourselves to a 2-0 lead. The first came midway through the half when Brian PILKINGTON turned in a deflected Jimmy Robson centre. Poor Pilkington came in for some stick from the reporter at the game who said that had he shown as much concentration in the taking of chances as he did in hard running then we would have won by a more convincing margin. In fact, just after the opener he should have doubled the lead but with only the goalkeeper to beat he tried to break the net and sliced the ball out of play.

The second goal started with Cummings who played the ball to Jimmy McIlroy. The Irishman linked up with Ray Pointer and then Pilkington before playing in John CONNELLY who scored at the second attempt.

It was 2-0 to Burnley at half time but Leeds came back in the second half despite an injury set back. Centre-half Jack Charlton was forced off with an injury but he returned to play on the left wing to keep the numbers up. Despite this the home side got back into the game. Bobby Seith whipped up George Meek’s legs in the forbidden area (in today’s reporting it would have claimed Seith brought down Meek in the penalty area) and Wilbur CUSH scored from the resulting penalty.

With six minutes to go it looked as though we’d wrapped things up when POINTER scored from a Pilkington centre. Pointer had impressed the watching England Under-23 selectors too. The home fans made for the exits but were halted in their tracks when passenger CHARLTON made a run down the wing, dribbled into the box past a wide open defence and shot past Adam Blacklaw. John Angus claimed the ball had gone out for a throw in but the goal was allowed to stand.

With four minutes remaining it was now 3-2 to Burnley but there was to be no come back from Leeds and we got our season off to a winning start.

The teams were;

Leeds: Ted Burgin, Jim Ashall, Grenville Hair, Peter McConnell, Jack Charlton, Wilbur Cush, William Humphries, Don Revie, Alan Shackleton, Chris Crowe, George Meek.

Burnley: Adam Blacklaw, John Angus, Tommy Cummings, Bobby Seith, Brian Miller, Jimmy Adamson, John Connelly, Jimmy McIlroy, Ray Pointer, Jimmy Robson, Brian Pilkington.

Referee: Mr R. T. E. Langdale (Darlington).

Attendance: 20,233.

First Division Results 22nd August 1959

Arsenal 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1
Birmingham 0 Wolves 1
Blackburn 4 Fulham 0
Blackpool 3 Bolton 2
Chelsea 4 Preston 4
Everton 2 Luton 2
Leeds 2 Burnley 3
Manchester City 2 Nottingham Forest 1
Newcastle 1 Tottenham 5
West Brom 3 Manchester United 2
West Ham 3 Leicester 0

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