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With pre-season training soon to get underway, manager Stan Ternent was keen to learn which, if any, of his out of contract players would be staying at Turf Moor.

With Damian Matthew gone to Northampton, and Paul Weller ready to move to pastures new, the main targets to keep were Gerry Harrison and Chris Vinnicombe although the manager couldn’t be hopeful of either signing new contracts.

Chris Vinnicombe – in talks with Walsall

Vinnicombe was, it had been suggested, keen to return to the South West of the country although he’d been so far unsuccessful in finding a new club. He couldn’t agree terms with his former club Exeter and had moved on to talks with Walsall whilst Cardiff were also showing an interest.

He was expected to go at some point during the summer and it was now looking all but certain that his replacement would be Bryan Small who had ended the 1997/98 season at Bury but wasn’t wanted by their new manager Neil Warnock.

Harrison, who had received an offer from Luton, had returned to Bedfordshire for further talks, He appeared to be a player in demand after a fine second half to the previous season with both Ipswich and Port Vale waiting in the wings. Despite his keenness to continue at Burnley, it now looked certain that he’d played his last game for us.

Then came a twist. There had been speculation that Peter Reid was interested in taking him to Sunderland but the Burnley Express had reported that it was totally unfounded. Things changed quickly and Harrison had travelled to Wearside where he was locked in talks with Sunderland.

Manager Stan Ternent, reporting the situation, said: “We have made Gerry a very good offer, but it looks like we are going to lose him to Sunderland. That is very disappointing for us all, but it is a situation that should never have been allowed to happen. There are some players you just cannot afford to let go out of contract, and Gerry is one of them as far as Burnley is concerned.”

It was also reported that both Chris Woods and Jamie Hoyland had left too. Hoyland wasn’t happy either; claiming he received a memo from the club telling him when to report for training the day after the club had sacked him.

Ternent replied to that: “He was not sacked,” he said. “We made what I believe to be a very good offer and he chose not to sign it. He was then sent the memo by mistake. That was unfortunate.”

With Woods gone, there was some urgency to bring in a new goalkeeper with only Tony Parks and youngster Craig Mawson on the books. Dean Kiely, because of the Bury connections, was seeing his name linked with the move but the favourite was transfer listed Wrexham goalkeeper and former Burnley loanee Andy Marriott.

There was some positive news for Brad Pates, one of the apprentices released by previous manager Chris Waddle. He had landed a contract with Macclesfield Town. He would return to Burnley as a coach in the centre of excellence a few years later before moving on to a sports role at Burnley college.

Meanwhile, the manager had added three new names to his backroom team. As expected, two of those were former Clarets Mick Docherty and Jimmy Robson. Alongside them was Cliff Roberts who was taking up the role of chief scout; he’d worked alongside the manager at Bury.

Ternent said: “Mick and Jimmy will work with the youngsters and the reserves alongside Terry Pashley. I have worked with them both before and I know Terry well because I signed him for Blackpool from Burnley when I was manager at Bloomfield Road. Cliff comes in as chief scout and he can also come and help out on the training ground.”

He added: “I have got a good strong team around me and they’re all pro-Burnley for different reasons. Now the backroom is in place, I need to sort out the playing strength as soon as possible.”

Ahead of pre-season training, he said: “We’re all looking forward to training because it will be a lot of fun. We’re not big, bad wolves, we’re professionals who want to get on with our work. If players want to be part of what’s going on, that’s fine with me, but if players don’t want to join in, that’s fine as well and we’ll just have to find a way of replacing them with someone else who does want to do things our way.”

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