We’re on the tele!! This was the first time that a whole Burnley match had been covered live on terrestrial television since the 1962 Cup Final.
What better proof was there that we had finally regained our place in the sun, although the heavy rain did not relent until kick off, leaving just a smidgen of brightness before the heavy clouds returned bringing an early nightfall. Not that we needed trite metaphors, for Burnley produced a dazzling performance. Perhaps not for Elton Welsby and his ‘expert summarisers’, Lou Macari and Jim Beglin who were stuffed together in an undersized Portakabin.
‘Inchy’ Heath set up the opening goal, taking on the dour Blades defenders single-handedly, outwitting them with pace and skill before pulling back a perfect cross for Robinson to squeeze in a 23rd minute header. While the Longside celebrated wildly the Granada ‘experts’ declared that Blades’ goalie, Kelly, had clawed the ball out before it had crossed the goal-line. Macari pontificated: ‘He’s made the wrong decision. Unless there is something wrong with my eyes.’ Fortunately, the match officials were immune to Granada’s jurisprudence, and after a brief consultation, awarded the goal. Oh, how we enjoyed the sight of humble pie smeared across these pundits’ faces as the Granada TV replay proved that the ball had crossed the goal-line before Kelly pushed it out. Confronted with the irrefutable evidence, Beglin managed a lame: ‘Yeah, it probably crossed the line’.
For the remainder of the half, possession was equally shared although Burnley had the better chances. Eyres forced Kelly into a fine save and Robinson skied a close-range opportunity. It looked as if we would go into the break with our one goal lead intact but in injury time Sheffield’s Gage broke away on the right and, with Burnley’s rookie left back, Dowell, allowing him too much room, he was able to fire in a fierce, low cross, which centre back, Winstanley, diverted past Beresford. Marlon’s dejection was shared by all except the ecstatic Blades supporters.
At half-time, Granada TV’s Rob McCaffrey tried to induce Jimmy Mullen into revealing his master plan for the remainder of the game. ‘More of the same’ was his revealing reply. We needn’t have worried. Just nine minutes into the second half, Randall’s right- wing corner was laid off by Davis for Hoyland to slam home a vicious volley. No doubt about this one, Lou! Hoyland had not enjoyed his final months at Bramall Lane.
In the 65th minute Jimmy proved he could do shrewd, whatever McCaffrey might have thought. For Jimmy wheeled on ‘Big Bad John’ Gayle (pictured) for the anonymous Alan Harper. Gayle is 6’4’’ and weighed 15 stone plus. He was built like Audley Harrison with the speed of Rex. ‘Rolling Thunder’ was the name of his game. Unimpressed with this show of power, Macari insisted Gayle was really a ‘pussycat’. We thought that ‘your highness’ might be a wiser form of address. Anyway, this was Gayle’s moment. Within six minutes of making his entry, Randall’s pass found Robinson on the right who crossed high into the box. In lumbered Gayle, his clanking gears shifting up from ‘dead slow’ to ‘you’re dead’. Sheffield ‘keeper Kelly and defender Brian Gayle stupidly stood in his way. This was no contest. ‘Big Bad John’ made some sort of contact with ball – the TV replay showed that it was his shoulder –and it flew into the net, showered by bloody fragments of the Sheffield defence. After that, Steve Davis’s immaculate 78th minute drive was just garnish while Andy Scott’s 84th minute riposte was merely irrelevant.
This impressive victory was achieved against a side, which had been in the Premier League only a few months before. We had showcased ourselves on TV in the best way possible, whatever Welsby and his cronies might say. More importantly, we had breached the twenty-point mark in our seventeenth game and had lifted ourselves up six places to fifteenth, well on course for survival. Alas, this was to be our high watermark ranking in 1994/95.
An extract from ‘Northern Exposure: A 50-Year Diary of Watching Burnley FC’ by Tim Quelch available at the club shop, on-line and from Pitch PublishersFollow UpTheClarets:
Share this page :