Fletcher chops down Forest at the Turf
Having won at Brighton a week earlier, Burnley more than continued to put the shock home defeat against Orient to bed with a winning return home, beating Nottingham Forest 1-0 to keep us two points clear at the top of the Second Division.
Boundary was the key word of the week and it was a week when the Borough of Burnley lost while some of the outlying areas were winners. It was all about where certain villages would be placed with the new boroughs set to come into being in 1974. Burnley wanted all of Read, Altham, Higham, Sabden and Reedley Hallows to be included as part of the new town borough but those villages were fighting against it, and it was the villages who won with all of them excluded and handed to Nelson, Accrington and Clitheroe.
“It’s the worst possible outcome, much worse than expected,” said Borough Surveyor, Mr. E. C. Ashby with Councillor Edward Hanson adding: “We in this council have tried desperately hard to maintain the prestige of the borough all along the line. There is no doubt, however, that had we tried to reduce ourselves to the bottom limit the result could not have been worse than it is now. We have been sold down the river. We have been reduced to second tier status and the Government is completely and utterly responsible.” That view was just about unanimous from the town but on the other side of the fence it was a different story. Councillor Cyril Law, Read’s representative on Burnley Rural District Council was jubilant. “I haven’t been as excited for years,” he proclaimed as he saw the split with Simonstone whose take on it was one of major disappointment.
And there was no good news either on the vandalism and hooliganism front. An open letter to those responsible was published in the Burnley Express. It opened: “Dear Thug or Vandal or Hooligan or Tearaway or Prank Player or Misunderstood Youth. Select your own category, this open letter will STILL apply to you. Don’t misunderstand the use of ‘dear’ as a term of endearment or respect. You deserve neither. It merely refers to how much you are costing the community, an incalculable sum. Not just in cash, but in torment and nerve-jangling fear, particularly the old and the infirm.”
Alderman Thomas E. Gallagher was delighted with the response from the local paper. “This is the kind of straight talking we want,” he said. “Perhaps they will understand a real verbal belt at them. It might have an effect on some. On others it won’t, but we must keep trying. What they are doing to old people is terrible, and it will get worse with the darker nights. Some of these old people dare not go out at all.”
There is some good news to report. Last week came news that Edith Dyson was trying to make contact with her son Eddie who had suffered serious injuries while working in South Africa. Finally she received a telegram and was able to make a phone call to the Sterkfontein Mental Hospital where her son was receiving treatment. “I felt like jumping over the moon when I spoke to Eddie. At last I know how he is,” said a delighted and relieved Mrs. Dyson. “Eddie is still not well. He sounded vague and couldn’t remember some things, but he knew me and my daughter and it was lovely to hear him. He even said he might come out of hospital in about two or three weeks and that he was coming home in January. That made me very happy.” Mrs. Dyson, who had been forced onto tranquilisers, now said she would have to save up to pay for the £60 phone call. She also gave MP Dan Jones £25 of her holiday savings to have sent to her son.
We’re not going back to the hooliganism and vandalism story now but there were some naughty girls in town, selfish and thoughtless too according to Burnley Girls’ High School headmistress Mrs. M. (Dolly) Dearing. At the school’s prize distribution, Dolly, whose son Basil later became a director of Burnley Football Club, said: “We have had a larger number than usual of girls who were selfish and thoughtless in their behaviour. Some of the new intake were included, but they are mainly girls who have been here since the first form, but I can say that there’s not a single girl among the naughty ones who has not done something during the year which deserves some credit.” I don’t think it was anything to be too concerned about. Dolly’s methods, in terms of behaviour, were somewhat behind the times, and it was often that said she had the school running like a 19th Century organisation.
One girl, or young woman had done very well for herself though and that was Susan Harland, Miss Elgin. On her 23rd birthday she took the town’s prestigious Queen of Industry and Commerce 1972 title. It was another fantastic night hosted by television presenter Stuart Hall. It was a fiercely fought competition and as contestants hopes ended they probably thought, it’s a knockout. I’m not sure now what they would think though with Stuart Hall less remembered for the game show and his radio football commentaries than he once was.
The mess from Burnley’s game against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough was still being cleared up and one local man was fined £70 in a Sheffield court for kicking a South Yorkshire copper. This was one case I have referred to previously. Now, I wouldn’t have made much of a fuss of this case but I was in court that day to witness this travesty of justice. A PC Graham Hibbert told the court that he clearly saw the accused kick his colleague PC James Larkin but I know for a fact that this was not true. I’m not one to dare suggest that South Yorkshire police officers don’t tell the truth but the outcome of this case was ridiculous because there had been no such offence taken place. Again, I won’t embarrass the man found guilty by naming him but I can confirm that justice was finally done after an appeal, and rightly so. You would just hope that the likes of PC Graham Hibbert and PC James Larkin were very seriously dealt with.
This local man wasn’t the only one to come out on the wrong side at a Burnley away game. In the game played a few weeks earlier at Millwall all of Mick Docherty, Doug Collins and Leighton James were booked by referee Mr. Clive Thomas. Burnley Football Club had notified the Football League that if any of those three players amassed the total of 12 penalty points required for a two match suspension then an immediate appeal would be lodged. Manager Jimmy Adamson said: “We have never complained before, but in this particular match I felt that none of the bookings were justified.”
During the week, the players had held a dance at the Cat’s Whiskers. Fans flocked to join the dancing and to see the new look cabaret. Geoff Nulty, the team’s top vocalist, was a resounding success as he belted out ‘Leaning on the Lamp Post’ accompanied by Paul Fletcher on ukulele but the real star was Eddie Cliff who brought the house down with his yodelling.
There was some good news for three more players who were all named in international under-23 squads. Alan Stevenson received an England call with Leighton James and Jeff Parton winning places in the Welsh squad. They’d be facing each other too, if selected, with the game to be played at Swansea’s Vetch Field.
But for Burnley, it was Nottingham Forest at Turf Moor, and ahead of the game Adamson confirmed that again it would be the same team and that Billy Ingham would be named as the substitute. He said: “They will probably come to defend and it will be our job to overcome this. It is important that we keep picking up the points at home. Whether they defend or not the Forest management is determined that the team should not arrive with an inferior complex.”
Forest were under new management with Dave Mackay having replaced Matt Gillies. He and his assistant Stan Anderson had previously been at Swindon and were still disappointed that they’d lost the game at Burnley with their previous club earlier in the season. Anderson said ahead of this trip: “When we came to Turf Moor with Swindon I thought we played Burnley off the park, but they got the points. It’s great to have the chance to get our revenge even if we are at another club. The boss and I would be delighted if the Forest boys could do it for us. He added: “Burnley are obviously the best team in the division at the moment and it is clearly going to be no easy task for us, but they can be outplayed. We proved this with Swindon and if we go out there suffering from an inferiority complex Burnley would steamroller us to defeat. Every team wants to beat Burnley and will pull out that bit extra to do it. We are no different in that respect.”
Forest might have wanted to beat Burnley but it was something they failed to do as the Clarets recorded successive 1-0 wins, with Fletcher, without his uke, this time getting the goal. It wasn’t a performance that was greeted with too many plaudits and press and fans alike suggested we were below par with a couple of national newspapers describing us as poor. There’s no doubt we weren’t at our best, far from it, but we were still the better of the two teams by some distance and probably it was no more than our inability to score more than one goal that brought the criticism. We created enough opportunities but missed too many of them and the fans were left on tenterhooks right until the end of the game. We might have paid for it too when Paul Richardson was gifted the simplest of chances to equalise right at the end. Thankfully he fluffed his lines when he dallied so long it allowed Alan Stevenson to come out and save at his feet. Other than the failings in front of goal we could be satisfied overall but, as Adamson had said when we lost 4-0 at Leeds in the League Cup: “They showed us how to control a game when you are in front.” It was something we needed to do because, overall, it should have been an easy win against a poor Forest side who defended well, worked hard, but showed little invention going forward.
We controlled the first half which saw most of the play in and around the Forest box. Twice they cleared off the line with goalkeeper Jim Barron beaten but the best move of the half came with a link up between Martin Dobson and Fletcher. They exchanged passes down the right and when Dobson got to the line he pulled the ball back for Fletcher who was stretching and could only fire over from ten yards.
If anything we were even more on top at the start of the second half. Dobson headed against the bar, Frank Casper robbed Tommy Gemmell of the ball but fired wide. Then, finally we went in front. After all our good play the goal was presented to us virtually on a plate. A promising move looked to have broken down when Doug Collins played a wretched ball straight to Gemmell, but the former Scotland international, instead of playing the ball forward, opted to play it back to Barron. The pass back was never strong enough and FLETCHER nipped in to force his way past the goalkeeper, quickly regain his balance and steer the ball into the unguarded net from an acute angle.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to get that much needed second goal and were thankful to Stevenson right at the end for us retaining the lead. Casper and James were disappointing on the day and that was always going to have an effect on the performance, but it was another win and things were looking good.
The teams were;
Burnley: Alan Stevenson, Mick Docherty, Keith Newton, Martin Dobson, Colin Waldron, Jim Thomson, Geoff Nulty, Frank Casper, Paul Fletcher, Doug Collins, Leighton James.
Nottingham Forest: Jim Barron, Peter Hindley, Tommy Gemmell, Bob Chapman, David Serella, Doug Fraser (Paul Richardson 75), Martin O’Neill, George Lyall, Neil Martin, John Robertson, Duncan McKenzie.
Referee: Mr. H. G. New (Bristol).
This was another week when a number of results went for us. Second place QPR also won but three of the next four in the table were all beaten. That left Lancashire clubs Blackpool and Preston in 3rd and 4th places. Preston, like us, had won nine of their opening 19 games but, very much unlike us, they weren’t to have too much success in their remaining games.
We were off to Sunderland a week later. It was a day, for reasons other than the game, that I’ll never forget.
Second Division Results
Saturday 25th November 1972
Bristol City 1 Sunderland 0
Burnley 1 Nottingham Forest 0
Cardiff 3 Fulham 1
Hull 1 Blackpool 2
Luton 0 Carlisle 1
Middlesbrough 0 Swindon 2
Millwall 1 Huddersfield 0
Orient 3 Sheffield Wednesday 2
Oxford 2 Aston Villa 0
Portsmouth 0 QPR 1
Preston 4 Brighton 0
9: Paul Fletcher
8: Leighton James
6: Martin Dobson
4: Dave Thomas
3: Frank Casper
2: Colin Waldron
1: Doug Collins