Italy beckons for Burnley as we draw SSC Napoli
We’d reached the last sixteen in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup in the 1966/67 season, as had both Leeds and West Brom. We were joined by Scottish clubs Dundee United and Kilmarnock in the draw with Dundee United the shock winners in the last round having beaten Barcelona home and away.
Having beaten both Vfb Stuttgart and Lausanne Sports, there was no doubt the Clarets were expecting a tougher draw in this round and as the players sat in the dressing room at Roker Park, ahead of a game against Sunderland, news came through from Harry Potts that we’d got the toughest tie possible, a two legged tie against top Italian club, the mega rich SSC Napoli.
The Southern Italian Lire lords could not have been more different a club than Burnley. Alex Elder, who we had signed from Glentoran in 1959, was the only member of our squad who had been signed from another club. Napoli however had a squad that had cost almost £1 million to put together, including four signings in the previous year that had cost them an incredible £388,000. Their multi-millionaire shipping tycoon president had put another half million in that year to a club that was averaging 72,000 crowds for home games in the fabulous San Paulo Stadium that could seat 80,000.
They had finished in third place in the Italian League the previous season, behind champions Inter Milan and runners up Bologna, and had strengthened their squad with the capture of inside forward Omar Sivori from Juventus, Brazilian forward Jose Altafini from AC Milan, Ortio Bianchi, a wing half from Brescia and Roma winger Alberto Orlando.
The first leg would be played at Turf Moor with the trip to Italy to follow and there we could expect to play in front of a massive, partisan crowd at a club who had taken an incredible £600,000 in season ticket sales that season and that was a figure no English club could come anything close to.
A visit to the San Paulo wouldn’t be a new experience for one of the players, or so he thought at the time. Goalkeeper Adam Blacklaw had played his last game for Scotland there in a defeat against Italy. “The crowds out there are fanatical and I only saw them when they were winning,” Blacklaw said.
“You hear all these stories about crazy fans but I don’t think we need to worry too much about them. As at Wembley, the spectators are well away from the pitch, and there is a moat ten yards wide.”
Jimmy Adamson recalled a visit when Burnley players and officials visited having docked there in the summer of 1963 during their summer cruise, and they found part of the stadium in a semi-wrecked state. “We were told that a referee had refused Napoli a penalty, so the crowd set part of the terracing on fire.” Adamson said.
The teams still involved in the competition had been given some time to arrange the games with a deadline of the end of February. Burnley and Napoli agreed to play the 1st leg at Turf Moor on 18th January with the return to be played at the San Paulo Stadium three weeks later.
It was some news to go out onto the pitch with at Sunderland, but two goals from Willie Irvine and a third from Andy Lochhead weren’t enough with Sunderland winning the game 4-3.
We were now preparing for a European tie that over half a century later has never been forgotten in Burnley.
The Full Draw
Eintracht Frankfurt v Ferencvaros
Burnley v Napoli
Juventus v Dundee United
Dinamo Pitesti v Dinamo Zagreb
Bologna v West Bromwich Albion
Leeds United v Valencia
Locomotiv Leipzig v Benfica
Kilmarnock v Gent
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