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Burnley were in the quarter-finals of the European Cup and our opponents Hamburg arrived from West Germany in January 1961 for the first leg of the tie.

The Hamburg players take a look at the frozen Turf Moor pitch
The Hamburg players take a look at the frozen Turf Moor pitch

They flew into Ringway Airport in Manchester and thankfully opted not to travel to Burnley by train with news hitting the town of the closure of Manchester Road Railway Station.

They weren’t happy either. They had real concerns over the Turf Moor pitch ahead of the game. It was frozen solid and not the sort of surface they liked to play on. They hadn’t wanted to play the game in January at all. They would have preferred it to be closer to the date of the second leg which was eight weeks later but the European Cup committee at Geneva decided upon the date.

They did all their visiting on the day before the game while on the day itself they were rewarded with a rest day when most of the players were able to enjoy their favourite pastime of playing cards.

They stayed at the luxurious Keirby Hotel and actually made their way to Turf Moor on foot for the game, manoeuvring their way around the queues at the Odeon where people were waiting to go and see South Pacific and Mitzi Gaynor washing that man right out of her hair.

When they did get to the ground, they found anything but a frozen pitch. The weather had changed dramatically and now, instead, we had something resembling a mud bath for the tie which was being shown live on BBC Television.

Pilkington scores his and Burnley's second goal
Pilkington scores his and Burnley’s second goal

Burnley had taken a 2-0 lead to France in the previous round for the second leg against Reims, eventually winning through 4-3 on aggregate. They were hoping they might just be able to get the same sort of lead against the West Germans who included some star players such as the brilliant centre forward Uwe Seeler, who would go on to captain his country, his brother Dieter and captain Jochen Meinke.

It proved to be Burnley’s night in what was described as one of Turf Moor’s greatest matches. Don Smith wrote in the Burnley Express: “Not so much was the passport into the semi-final of the European Cup double stamped by little Pilkington, but it was the manner in which the proposed advancement was endorsed by the whole side.

“Gone were the recent jitters, the margins for error and the signs of form slump. Once again this side of unpredictables confounded their critics to send their supporters making Thursday morning inquiries about the possibilities of trips to Hamburg.”

The game was the talk of the town and the football world, such was the quality of Burnley’s performance. Pilkington had his best and most effective game for months and he crowned it with two tremendous shots. HIs second, from the wing, brought one of the finest goals of his career.

Then there was the mighty Miller, who came into prominent power in the second half when he was hard hit by body charging and hacking which had him making indentations in the mud. But the harder Miller was hit, the more he seemed to enjoy it.

Hamburg’s defence was always suspect under the varied tactics of the Burnley attack who went in front after just seven minutes from a long throw-in by Joyce that McIlroy gave to Pointer. He transferred it to PILKINGTON who gave us the lead.

Robson scores and it's 3-0
Robson scores and it’s 3-0

On the hour it was 2-0 with a second PILKINGTON goal. This time it was a right foot screamer into the far top corner with goalkeeper Schnoor hardly able to move. He was mesmerised by the speed of the shot.

Pointer then had a header stopped but before Schnoor could pounce, ROBSON had the ball over the line and Burnley were 3-0 up.

Then, with five minutes to go, a quiet oft-tried move created an opening and DÖRFEL was through with Blacklaw beaten for once. It gave the Hamburg supporters their one moment of glory which they took with the waving of flags while one character celebrated with a solo on a tin trumpet.

It reduced Burnley’s advantage to two goals and with a 3-1 win it meant it could be a tougher game in Hamburg  when the second leg was played in March.

The few dozen visiting fans had continually shouted H.S.V. almost like a war chant, and that’s something Burnley would face from many more West Germans in the second leg eight weeks later although there was an immediate rush at Althams from those Burnley supporters hoping to travel to the home of the West German champions.

The teams were;

Burnley: Adam Blacklaw, John Angus, Alex Elder, Walter Joyce, Jimmy Adamson, Brian Miller, John Connelly, Jimmy McIlroy, Ray Pointer, Jimmy Robson, Brian Pilkington.

Hamburg: Horst Schnoor, Gerhard Krug, Jürgen Kurbjuhn, Jürgen Werner, Jochen Meinke, Dieter Seeler, Klaus Neisner, Klaus Stürmer, Uwe Seeler, Horst Dehn, Gert Dörfel.

Referee: Mr. Tage Sorensen (Denmark).

Attendance: 47,000.

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