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It was FA Cup first round day but circumstances had forced Burnley’s game at Darlington to be put back three days and with a new venue too as the other ties all went ahead.

Even so, there was both football and non-football news in Burnley as we prepared for the game with news to come later in the day of a potential plum tie in the second round should we, as expected, beat Darlington.

The first news to report was non-football but involved Burnley striker Andy Payton. The Burnley Express led with a front page story that Payton had attended Padiham Police Station having allegedly been involved in a violent incident with a 25-year-old man. This had happened just hours before the 2-0 home defeat against Stoke on the previous Tuesday which explained his absence from the team.

Glen Little – not going to Port Vale

Police Inspector Stuart Bootham explained: “A Burnley footballer will be interviewed regarding a complaint of criminal damage and assault.” No charges had been made at the time and Burnley Football Club confirmed that Mr Payton was not available for comment nor would they be commenting.

However, manager Stan Ternent said: “Andy Payton has a personal problem and it should remain personal until such time he should wish to talk about it.” Asked if his striker would be available for the cup tie, Ternent added: “I could not tell you if I will be here on Tuesday. I could not tell you if I’ll be here tomorrow.”

It was confirmed that the body of Burnley born Marie Quinn, who had died at the age of 67, was to be exhumed as part of a multiple murder charge case. Marie and another lady Ivy Lomas had become the fifth and sixth victims for whom Hyde GP Dr Harold Shipman had been charged with murder.

Would you know where ‘Perverts Paradise’ was in Burnley? In 1998 this was the subway at Gannow Roundabout where seven incidents had now been reported with the latest an 18-year-old who had been sexually assaulted by three men. Stephen Wolski and Stuart Caddy, the ward councillors, took up the matter with the police and Councillor Wolski said: “We arranged the meeting because of the overwhelming number of complaints from the public about the subway.” He added: “The design of the tunnel makes it easy for this kind of perpetrator. In the short term we can look at improving lighting and removing graffiti but in the long term the options of installing CCTV cameras or removing the subway need considering.”

Brownside Road was closed for over three hours on Tuesday of this week following a road traffic accident. One of the drivers, 20-year-old James Pickup, was trapped in his car with both fire fighters and paramedics fighting for over an hour to free him from the wreckage. “It was a very delicate and intricate procedure,” said station officer Paul Harvey. Mr Pickup had suffered a broken leg, a broken arm and a broken pelvis. His condition was described as stable by Burnley General Hospital.

Two 18-year-olds were in court in separate incidents. Daniel Ross had more concerns than having been seen breaking into a car. Knowing he was in some trouble, he issued threats to the lady who had reported him and found himself in Burnley Crown Court where he was convicted of witness intimidation after a two-day trial. He was bailed until December to await sentence but was told by Judge David Pirie: “When you come back to be sentenced, all options will be open to me and that will include the possibility of a custodial sentence. You should not infer from the fact a report is being prepared or that I am allowing bail, that I have formed any different views.”

Meanwhile, Calum Turner had been spotted burgling his next door neighbour’s home. He escaped prison but was put on probation for eighteen months with a recommendation for medical treatment.

And finally, to the football, or the lack of as far as Burnley were concerned. Just three days before the game was scheduled to be played, the game was switched from Darlington’s Feethams to the Riverside Stadium at Middlesbrough. That didn’t prove to be too much of an issue for Burnley fans but then Cleveland Police, who were the authority for games at Middlesbrough, weren’t happy with the lack of notice and forced the game to be put back to the following Tuesday.

Manager Stan Ternent wasn’t happy but his thoughts were with the Burnley supporters. He said after hearing the news: “The first round of the FA Cup is always a special day, but the thing that is most galling is that the fans have been badly treated. They have been pushed from pillar to post. Darlington should have come to play at Turf Moor, but now fans will have to take time off work. Everyone was set for Saturday, and although it is a big day at a fine setting, it takes the gloss off it.”

It looked as if it might be a depleted team too. He confirmed: “Paul Smith, Peter Swan, Neil Moore, Mark Robertson, Ronnie Jepson and Paul Weller are all still not right. And Gordon Armstrong and Andy Cooke are suspended. We will just have to grin and bear it.” Ternent also confirmed he had lost goalkeeper Gavin Ward. His three month loan was over but he said he would speak to Bolton boss Colin Todd and still hoped to sign him permanently. He explained: “Gavin has gone back to Bolton, but he is carrying a groin injury which might be even worse than that. He complained about it on Tuesday, but I will be talking to Colin about him.”

There was some transfer news and it was good news for Burnley supporters although we weren’t signing anyone. Sunderland’s offer for Glen Little, that we previously reported, never came but one did from Port Vale who had made a £750,000 bid for him and the Potteries club were prepared to go up to £1 million.

Vale boss John Rudge said: “Glen is a player who would excite the crowd because he is a good footballer who can beat his man. He has a style all of his own, and you couldn’t compare him with the wingers we had had previously at Vale Park.” Ternent confirmed the bid and said: “Port Vale made an offer of £750,000 which was put to the board. We are not of a mind to do anything about the bid as we don’t want to sell him – and the offer wasn’t enough. They sold Gareth Ainsworth for £2 million and if he is worth that, then so is Glen. Even If they come back with an offer of £2 million, my recommendation would be to keep him. We want to be building the side around the likes of Glen and Andy Cooke, and when we get players back from injury and suspension, the side will be a lot stronger.”

Stan had referred to some players still not being right. One of those players was midfielder Paul Weller who hadn’t played since being substituted in the defeat at Walsall eleven weeks earlier. The news on Weller was not good. It was reported that he would not play again during the 1998/99 season because of a serious bowel condition.

The 23-year-old needed an operation to remove his large bowel which was ridden with ulcers and he’d been told he may need up to six months rest following the operation. There had been a lot of rumours flying around about his condition but Weller himself explained: “I have heard all sorts of silly rumours saying that I’m at death’s door,” he said. Explaining the situation, Paul added: “The condition is fairly serious as it could lead to cancer in later life if I do not get it checked out. But hopefully the operation should go smoothly and I can look forward to playing next season. It’s a major operation which will take a lot of recovery time so it is unlikely I will be back this season. The club has been very understanding and Stan has been superb by keeping in touch with hospital visits and phone calls. He has told me to just concentrate on getting healthy, ready to come back next year.”

On the Friday night, Manchester City had knocked out Halifax with a 3-0 win at Maine Road with two goals from Craig Russell and a third scored by Shaun Goater. On Saturday evening, Burnley were given a home tie against City should we get through against Darlington three days later.

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