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This image has been used with permission from Burnley Civic Trust's Image Archive,
This image has been used with permission from Burnley Civic Trust’s Image Archive,

Half a century ago today, we were one week away and all looking forward to the new 1969/70 season.

Transfer windows didn’t exist back then and, in any case, we didn’t really go in for signing new players from other clubs so there were no new signings to cast our eyes on other than goalkeeper Peter Mellor who had been on trial in the previous season from Witton Albion. Mellor, had now signed, and was to go straight into the first team because of the sacking of regular goalkeeper Harry Thomson.

The previous season had ended with a 2-1 home defeat against Sunderland, a game that was postponed and then abandoned with us winning 1-0 before it was finally played.

Pre-season wasn’t quite as it is today. There weren’t too many games for the public to watch but we had won 4-0 at Tranmere and drawn 1-1 at Bolton, and that was my first ever visit to Burnden Park. One week before the season started, on 2nd August, 1969, we played a home friendly against Middlesbrough.

Last Tuesday, eyes were cast on the new disabled corner stands, to see how much progress had been made since the end of last season; in 1969 all eyes were at the cricket field end where, after a season and a half, the hoardings had been removed to show off the new cricket field stand, Bob Lord’s pride and joy, with those hoardings moved to a new place in front of the old Brunshaw Road stand.

The building of the new stand had cost the club some £200,000 but it was very much state of the art, the first centrally heated stand in the world although the new heating system wasn’t required on this warm August afternoon.

Open for the first time, the official opening ceremony was held ahead of kick off with Bob Lord joined, in what would be the directors’ box until the new Brunshaw Road stand was built, by Jack Butterfield (the club’s entertainments manager), the Rt. Reverend G. E. Holderness (Bishop of Burnley) and Dan Jones MP (the town’s Member of Parliament).

The official opening was performed by Lord Rhodes, the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, and he was met by the chairman and other dignitaries, including the Mayor & Mayoress, Councillor and Mrs A. Proctor, who were entertained by the directors of Burnley Football Club at the Higher Trapp Hotel, Simonstone before making their way to Turf Moor for the opening.

“This is something to be really proud of,” Lord Rhodes told the 7,000 plus inside Turf Moor for the game with around 2,500 of them in the new stand. It was a good day for Burnley and Bob Lord off the pitch but not quite so on the pitch as Burnley were held to a 1-1 draw by Division Two Middlesbrough on this special day when the club failed to produce a match programme.

The performance certainly didn’t impress Burnley Express Sports Editor Keith McNee who wrote: “Burnley won’t need a £200,000 stand half as badly as they need new players who can show us real effort and determination. That, at any rate, is my conclusion after melancholy minutes of reflection on Saturday’s highly unfortunate events.”

McNee suggested it could be down to the poor view he had from the new press box which was perched high in the back corner of the new stand where they were, according to him, isolated almost like victims of a dreaded plague, and strangely remote from the play.

Middlesbrough weren’t particularly good but should have won the game and would have done with better shooting. Mellor, on his home debut, was one of the very few successes. He made two outstanding saves in the first half.

McNee described the attack as hopelessly disjointed with only Steve Kindon to be picked out as having anything like a reasonable afternoon while he thought the defence was simply not in tune and thought the team had nothing more than a ‘does it really matter?’ attitude.

Despite such a poor performance, none of the three substitutes were used and the only bright moment came when we made a flying start and took the lead. It came right in front of the new stand in just the 8th minute when John Angus and Frank Casper linked up well for Steve KINDON to score a neat goal. Kindon was close to another and Martin Dobson headed against the bar with just over twenty minutes gone, but from that point onwards it was dreadfully poor stuff with LAIDLAW finally scoring a deserved equaliser for Middlesbrough in this 1-1 draw.

It had been a special day for the club with the opening of one new stand and the promise of  an even bigger and better one to come on the Brunshaw Road side of the ground, but on the field there were more questions than answers after this performance.

The teams were;

Burnley: Peter Mellor, John Angus, Les Latcham, Martin Dobson, Colin Waldron, Sammy Todd, Ralph Coates, Dave Thomas, Frank Casper, Steven Kindon, Doug Collins. Subs not used: Jim Thomson, Brian O’Neil, Eric Probert.

Middlesbrough: Maurice Short, Alan Moody (Ray Lugg 58), Gordon Jones, George Smith, Bill Gates, Brian Myton, Eric McMordie, Mike Kear, Joe Laidlaw, John Hickton, Dave Chadwick.

Referee: Mr A. E. Morrissey (Bramhall).

Attendance: 7,391.

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