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On the Monday following our home draw against Notts County, the hoped for change had been made at Burnley Football Club with new investor Barry Kilby joining chairman Frank Teasdale and his fellow directors Bob Blakeborough and Clive Holt on a four man board of directors at Turf Moor.

One item on the board meeting agenda was the position of club secretary following news that John Howarth, who had held the position since the summer of 1996, had suddenly quit on the eve of the Notts County game.

Barry Kilby and Frank Teasdale shake hands, flanked by Bob Blakeborough (left) and Clive Holt

The news was announced by director Clive Holt on Radio Lancashire but refused to go into any detail. Howarth, who had held the same position at Blackburn Rovers for over twenty-five years prior to moving to Turf Moor, tendered his resignation, cleared his desk and left immediately with no explanation from Holt who said: “The reason behind his resignation is between Mr Howarth and the club. I am not prepared to say anything further.”

Howarth had replaced Albert Maddox in the role at Burnley and was believed to be under serious consideration to become the club’s first ever full-time paid chief executive.

While the club began the search for a new secretary, Stan Ternent had been able to fill one vacancy with the appointment of a new physiotherapist. We’d been without since Nick Worth had moved to West Brom during the summer. The new man was 29-year-old Paul Lake whose blossoming playing career at Manchester City was ended when he suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament at the age of just 21. “Paul knows the game back to front and that will be a great help to us,” Ternent said in welcoming Lake to the club.

There was one further piece of off-field news when MP Tom Pendry (later to become Baron Pendry of Stalybridge although he always said ‘Call me Tom’) arrived to present a cheque to the club for £2,450,000 from the Football Trust, the Trust’s contribution towards the cost of the two new stands at Turf Moor. The stands could not have been built without the help of the Football Trust and Mr Pendry said: “The stands are an excellent example of the impressive progress that has been made in helping clubs provide the very best facilities and the highest standards of safety and comfort for supporters to enjoy.”

Mr Pendry was joined by Peter Pike MP and Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Press Officer. Mr Pike added: “The new stands are a great credit to the club and I congratulate Burnley on providing some of the best facilities in the Football League.”

Tom Pendry was a great friend to football. His name is proudly shown on ‘The Lord Tom Pendry Stand’ at Stalybridge where he was MP from 1970 until 2001. He had a great love of the game and was President of the Football Foundation from February 2003 until his death in February this year at the age of 88.

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