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Five days before the start of the 1959/60 season the Burnley team left the heat of Burnley and headed across the Irish Sea to Belfast for a friendly which had been arranged as part of the signing of the young full back Alex Elder who had arrived from the Northern Irish club earlier in the year.

coe elder glentoran friendlyIt might be difficult to believe now but the big news in Burnley at the time was all about the weather and the incredible heatwave we were enduring. It’s not often you will hear Burnley folk wishing for rain but that was very much the case at the time. There had been a glimmer of hope of at least a heavy shower at the end of the previous week but the local press led with a headline claiming those rain clouds had passed us by.

News of the opening of an important new school, expected to be the headliner, was banished to the inside pages of the Burnley Express because of the dry weather. Although hidden, it was a welcome to the new Burnley Grammar School building on Byron Street which came just four years  before the editor of this website took his first lessons there.

Nothing to do with sport, but other local news reported that 21-year-old Peter Lawson had qualified in law with a LL.B at Manchester and was articled to Mr Newton at Donald Race & Newton. Peter was to become a name in local sports circles. He played Lancashire League cricket for Lowerhouse and then for many years was chairman of Burnley Cricket Club and president of the East Lancashire Golf Association before his untimely passing in December 1999 after a battle with cancer.

I have no idea what the weather was like in Belfast but it was certainly raining goals at the Oval as the First Division side from Lancashire had no difficulty in beating their Irish League counterparts. The young Elder (pictured), who was just 18, was still to make a first team debut for Burnley but he was included in this game alongside another former Glentoran player by the name of Jimmy McIlroy.

Burnley won the game 8-1 with the only reply from the penalty spot. Jimmy Robson scored four of those goals whilst the others came from Brian Pilkington, Ray Pointer, John Connelly and McIlroy. It was an exciting way for the first team to end their public build up to the new season with five goals in the win against the reserves two days earlier and now another eight against Glentoran.

The Burnley team for this friendly was: Adam Blacklaw, John Angus, Alex Elder, Bobby Seith, Brian Miller, Jimmy Adamson, John Connelly, Jimmy McIlroy, Ray Pointer, Jimmy Robson, Brian Pilkington.

Now it was time for league action and an opening game five days later against Leeds at Elland Road. They had a new manager Jack Taylor who had moved from QPR at the end of the 1958/59 season. It was a game Burnley had drawn 1-1 in the previous season after we’d led for much of the game through Jimmy Robson.

Season tickets were still selling well at both the secretary’s office and from Mrs Blakey’s and there was a mood of optimism across town. Could we better that seventh place finish of 1958/59.

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