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Burnley’s 1-0 midweek win at Birmingham sixty years ago today took the team to second place in the table and left them favourites to win the title with just two games remaining.

It was a good time to be in Burnley and residents were getting their shoes on in more ways than one. The old tripe factory in Finsley Gate still bore that name over the door but a new firm ‘Finsley Shoe Company Ltd’ had moved in to the premises, set up by two Rossendale men Mr Raymond Ashworth and Mr Clifford W. Harvey. They were full of praise for local labour and Mr Ashworth confirmed: “We intend to draw all our labour from the district,” with Mr Harvey adding, regarding their workers: “We thought we would have to watch over them at first, but that has not been necessary.” Having installed £1,000 worth of machinery they were concentrating on casual footwear, particularly sandals.

They were paid a visit by the Town Clerk Mr C. V. Thornley and the borough’s new chief clerk Mr Fred Elliott. Mr Elliott said: “I’m delighted with what I’ve seen at the new factory, I say, I’m delighted.” The factory space was 8,000 square feet and that wasn’t the only good footwear news with Lambert Howarth and Sons expanding to bring 700 new jobs to the town. Already established at Healey Royd, they had bought a further 75,000 square feet of floor space at Finsley Mill with both premises connected by the private, but established, bridge over the canal. They turned the old mill into a modern, light and cheerful factory that became known locally as the ‘Slipper Works’.

Fred Elliott impressed with the quality at Finsley Shoe Company

There was also good news for the elderly with the announcement of Burnley’s first purpose built hostel for pensioners close to completion. Named Hameldon House it was situated on Rossendale Road at the junction of Harold Avenue. It would cater for over 30 people in 16 single rooms, 6 doubled bedded rooms and for the more adventurous pensioners a room for three, and for their comfort it had an emergency bell system and non-slip cork-tiled floors which would also keep the noise down. For their entertainment, the parks department were preparing the lawns and gardens so in fine weather residents could sit outside and watch the traffic go by. With Hameldon House almost complete, plans were announced for a second hostel to be built in Todmorden Road, called Fir Grove.

Spar shops in Burnley launched Australian Week where customers could buy Australian Sunshine Foods. This included Australian canned fruits – pears, peaches, pineapple and apricots steeped in sunshine and bathed in syrup priced from 2s 6d. There were also Australian sultanas, Australian canned meats and Australian butter. For the children there was an Australian painting competition for the under-11s with 100 cuddly koala bears as prizes.

At Hartley’s Chemists they were getting ready for the holidays and already had the very modern Kodak Brownie cameras in stock. They were priced from £3 15s 7d to £4 7s 2d. The staff at Hartley’s had also been vocal about the proposed change to the half day closing from Tuesday to Wednesday. In another hammer blow for the Chamber of Trade, the town’s shop assistants set up a petition which read: “We, the undersigned, wish to register our protest against a proposal to change the half day closing to Wednesday.” Already 110, shop assistants that is and not members of a club on Yorkshire Street, had signed it.

It was packed houses at St. Stephen’s where their Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society revived memories for the older people and introduced to the younger generation some of the gay frivolity and good fun of ‘The Merry Widow’. I’m not quite sure how the widow was particularly merry with such a level of gayness to the frivolity but each to their own, and it did raise much needed money for the building fund.

One poor Burnley mum landed herself in court after she broke into the gas meter at home. With a 14-month old child she stole £3 14s from the meter and told the court: “I did it for the sake of the child. I had no money to buy food.” She admitted breaking the lock with a hammer and explained that her husband was off work sick and she was only earning £5 10s per week. She said she was sorry and would pay it back. The court fined her £2 plus £2 2s costs to be paid at 5s per week and she was placed on probation until it was all paid.

Burnley travelled to St. Andrew’s for a game that should have been played in February but was called off because of the poor weather. Mr Potts said on the day before the game: “We treat every match as it comes and we are not worrying. Often at this part of the season there is anxiety or staleness but our boys are playing with the confidence of full fitness and we only want the bounce of the ball which we have not been having recently. Supporters can depend on 100% effort and no one can ask for more.”

John Connelly was still out injured and so Trevor Meredith was set to deputise again. Adam Blacklaw, who had missed the draw at Blackpool, had recovered from injury and was back in the team. It was a big end of season clash with Birmingham still looking over their shoulders at the bottom of the league and Burnley trying to win the league for the first time since 1921 and it went Burnley’s way with a Brian Pilkington goal nine minutes from time securing the two points.

At the finish of the desperate points battle, the gentleman in charge of the St. Andrew’s public address system made an impassioned plea to those indefatigable autograph hunters, the small boys of Birmingham, to ‘keep off the pitch’. His dramatics proved not the slightest use, the youngsters swarmed over the arid waste and the players had to run for their lives. It may have been Birmingham’s tribute to ‘Burnley the champions’, slightly previous, but at least a distinct possibility after this happy result, which sent a not inconsiderable number of Turf Moor supporters home rejoicing.

In the 81st minute Pilkington slammed home what proved to be the only goal of a game which, in view of Birmingham’s fight for Division One survival, was as tough as expected and not without its thrills. Maybe the Blues were justified in thinking that they deserved a point. Burnley were inclined to make heavy weather of their superiority but, after all, their followers should be used to such tactics which engender attacks of anxiety-neurosis capable of rendering strong men weak.

Both teams attacked. Burnley corner; Burnley corner, City corner, Burnley corner and the crowd roared on every home advance. Thus inspired, the Blues laid siege with desperate intent and half backs came up to support forwards of whom Peter Murphy revealed his scheming powers while Don Weston chased all over in vain pursuit, whether the cool, calm Tommy Cummings was in attendance or not. Perhaps it became inevitable that chances were missed, shots sliced and passes flurried in the concerted excitement. Repeatedly City were driven back and Burnley took a turn at raiding.

Then with nine minutes to go, Meredith executed one of those touches of imperturbable trickery which has made him such a prominent member of the side since his introduction. He rode a tough tackle, maintained possession, slipped the ball through the legs of Richard Neal, rounded him and crossed his centre. Ray Pointer, in front of goal, seemed inclined to the view that he might not have the time to kill the ball so allowed it to go through with a helpful back flick to the unmarked PILKINGTON. The outside-left took a chance and first timed his shot past the helpless John Schofield. Pilky said afterwards: “I would not like to have to go back on the field and have to do it again. I was thankful to see the ball hit the back of the net. No wonder I shouted! What a relief!”

Tension was then terrific but the defence held. John Angus and Alex Elder controlled the wings. Cummings ruled the centre and Brian Miller was mighty in the middle approaches with Jimmy Adamson prodding his attack into activity on the other flank. Both backs and Adam Blacklaw hammered the long pass through to keep play down in the City half as time ran out. The forwards held the ball well, and there was always Meredith, the little man with the big heart and tricky feet, to keep the City defence in a state of anxiety. He was watched for the first time by his parents who travelled from Kidderminster. They must have been very proud.

The teams were;

Birmingham: John Schofield, Graham Sissons, Brian Farmer, John Watts, Trevor Smith, Richard Neal, Gordon Astall, John Gordon, Don Weston, Peter Murphy, Harry Hooper.

Burnley: Adam Blacklaw, John Angus, Alex Elder, Jimmy Adamson, Tommy Cummings, Brian Miller, Trevor Meredith, Jimmy McIlroy, Ray Pointer, Jimmy Robson, Brian Pilkington.

Referee: Mr R. E. Smith (Newport, Mon).

Attendance: 37,014.

Despite the defeat, Birmingham looked just about safe with news that Leeds had been beaten by Blackburn who themselves assured they would remain in Division One with that win. For Burnley it was getting so very close. We were now second, behind Wolves only on goal average and now a point ahead of Tottenham. We still had two games to play with the others just one. No one else could stop us, it was now in our own hands, and we were on the brink of becoming Champions despite not having led the table since August, and then for only one day.

First Division Results

27th April 1960

Birmingham 0 Burnley 1
Blackburn 3 Leeds 2

League Table

Pos Team pld w d l f a ga pts
1 Wolves 41 23 6 12 101 66 1.53 52
2 Burnley 40 23 6 11 83 60 1.38 52
3 Tottenham 41 20 11 10 82 49 1.67 51
4 Sheffield Wed 41 19 10 12 79 58 1.36 48
5 West Brom 41 18 11 12 82 57 1.44 47
6 Bolton 41 19 8 14 57 50 1.14 46
7 Newcastle 41 18 8 15 82 77 1.06 44
8 Manchester United 41 18 7 16 97 80 1.21 43
9 Fulham 41 17 9 15 73 80 0.91 43
10 Preston 41 15 12 14 77 76 1.01 42
11 Blackpool 41 15 10 16 58 67 0.87 40
12 Leicester 41 13 13 15 65 73 0.89 39
13 Arsenal 41 15 9 17 68 79 0.86 39
14 Everton 41 13 11 17 73 73 1.00 37
15 Chelsea 41 14 9 18 75 86 0.87 37
16 Blackburn 41 16 5 20 60 69 0.87 37
17 West Ham 41 16 5 20 74 90 0.82 37
18 Manchester City 40 16 3 21 76 82 0.93 35
19 Nottingham Forest 41 13 9 19 50 73 0.68 35
20 Birmingham 41 12 10 19 62 80 0.78 34
21 Leeds 41 11 10 20 64 92 0.70 32
22 Luton 41 9 12 20 50 71 0.70 30
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