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Former Claret and reserve team coach Harry Wilson was to leave Turf Moor ahead of the 1997/98 season, reported manager Chris Waddle from the club’s training base in Northern Ireland, with former England international Gordon Cowans set to replace him.

Wilson was on holiday in the Dominican Republic when pre-season got underway, but the manager explained: “We’ve had a chat with Harry Wilson and I can confirm he’s leaving Burnley. We are seeking a settlement with him I will be bringing someone in instead of Harry. We have spoken to Gordon and I think when he gets back from Portugal with Stockport, we will talk again and see if he wants to work with the reserves.”

It was a surprise. Wilson had built up a good reputation, working with Terry Pashley, at a time when players such as Chris Brass, John Mullin, Paul Smith and Paul Weller had broken through into the first team with only Mullin of the four no longer at the club having moved to Sunderland two years earlier.

Cowans had played much of the previous season for Bradford City before moving to Stockport in March. At the age of 38, and with almost 850 games under his belt, over 500 of them for Aston Villa, he was ready to move into coaching and had unsuccessfully applied for the manager’s job at Walsall where he missed out to Jan Sorensen, the former European Cup finalist, who was running a pub in the Walsall area.

Despite Wilson’s departure it was fully expected that coaches Terry Pashley and Alan Harper would remain at the club as would chief scout Clive Middlemass.

Some weeks earlier, Bury manager Stan Ternent had spoken positively about central defender Peter Swan, indicating that he’d like to sign him but then suggesting that his club couldn’t afford him. It was recognised that Swan wouldn’t have been in Adrian Heath’s plans and it looked as though it would be the same case with Waddle. Swan did not join the party for the trip to Northern Ireland due to a reported muscle strain.

Now, it was confirmed that a move to Bury was not just on but imminent. The wait was for Bury chairman Terry Robinson to return from holiday. Waddle confirmed: “The transfer could be happening soon, but it has not gone through at present. We are waiting for the Bury chairman to get back from a cruise.”

Swan was a Jimmy Mullen signing from Plymouth in the summer of 1995 as a replacement for Steve Davis and had cost us £200,000. He featured regularly with Mullen in charge but less so once Heath had become manager. He’d had made sixty league and cup appearances in his two years at Burnley. It was thought the fee for him to move to Bury would be £50,000.

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