Granddad’s last away game
Granddad had looked after me on the Turf since I was about six or seven years old, guiding me to the front of the Bee Hole end to the right of the goals.
By 1959-60 he was retired and in his late sixties. I was sixteen and by now was looking after him. At Bolton in February 1960 we were narrowly missed by a large lump of concrete attached to a barrier as it gave way under crowd pressure. Granddad decided that next season he would be in the stand.
The Manchester City game would be our last match together as from then on I would join my friends on the Longside. We travelled in the back of a Burnley Express van, with dad and another photographer in the front. Traffic was so bad that we abandoned the van some two miles from the ground and hurried towards Maine Rd.
When we arrived just before kick-off there were long queues at the turnstiles and some were actually closing. We tried several queues and were beginning to lose hope when miraculously a short queue was found at a youths turnstile which I went through and granddad slipped the operator a few bob and we had entered as several doors clanged shut.
There was a big roar and we had just missed the City equaliser. It transpired that the Clarets had scored early on, long before we had got into the ground. We could not see very much as we joined the back of the crowd and tried to edge our way in. I was tall and soon found a small viewing spot and I gave my old rattle to granddad to stand on – even so I had to relay a description of most of the action.
Burnley were attacking our end of the ground and Trevor Meredith scored a second for the Clarets which produced a crowd surge vastly improving our position and view but leaving my rattle several yards away (some kind chap returned it later). A nervous second half saw several near misses and then finally blessed relief and we were champions.
We made our way back to the Express van and found dad waiting. Traffic was very dense so it was nearing midnight when we made our way through Rawtenstall, Crawshawbooth and the other small settlements along the valley. We were a few minutes ahead of the team coach and people were lining the route. They appeared out of houses in dressing gowns and pyjamas to await the victors. Dad wanted photographs of the coach so we stopped amid a large crowd at the bottom of Manchester Road as the team bus came down past the Town Hall. We arrived home about two in the morning, very happy but sad that days watching the Clarets with Granddad were finally over.Share this page :