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With a General Election less than a month away in 1959 the town of Burnley had hardly been hit by election fever, rather the townsfolk were far more concerned about job losses and the continuing spell of dry weather.

More mills were set to close meaning more job losses. Burnley’s main textile industry was suffering and many families were fearing a struggle should more jobs go as mills continued to close their doors. It was a tough time for those families, yet the main news was still the weather. It’s hard to believe now but sixty years ago people each day were hoping there would be some rain. The temperatures continued to soar and it had already left homes with no water supply for twelve hours each day.

Alex Elder had an impressive debut
Alex Elder had an impressive debut

The first news of the election came with the selection of a new candidate for the Labour party to replace the current MP Mr W. A. Burke. The new man was 50-year-old Dan Jones from Ynyshir, Rhondda who had been nominated by the Amalgamated Engineering Union.

And as Burnley prepared for the short journey to play Preston at Deepdale, having beaten them at Turf Moor a week earlier, former secretary and manager Alf Boland was in the news locally. He had given away his daughter Beverley who married at St. Margaret’s Church in Burnley. The wedding service was followed by a reception at the Snug Cafe in Barden Lane.

On the Monday, the day before the game at Preston, Harry Potts revealed that there would be team changes for the first time all season. We’d played seven games with the same team but injuries to two players forced Potts to bring in two others and that brought with it some positional changes.

I think most people realised that Jimmy McIlroy would be missing. He’d played three quarters of the win against West Brom with one arm fastened to his body after falling victim to a challenge from Derek Kevan. Mac’s inside right deputy at Deepdale would be Billy ‘Chalkie’ White. Also out was Bobby Seith. He was suffering from swollen feet and that gave one young Burnley player a first team debut. Jimmy Adamson moved from left half to right half for the injured Seith. Brian Miller switched from centre half to left half and Tommy Cummings moved from left back to take the vacant centre half position. In today’s world of squad numbers people would now find it somewhat strange that all of Adamson, Cummings and Miller would have to wear different numbered shirts having switched positions.

Coming in at left back was Burnley’s most recent signing. Alex Elder had joined the club from Glentoran in January 1959 and after playing all his football in the reserves, other than a pre-season friendly against his former club, was stepping up for his debut at the age of 18 and set to be in direct opposition to one of the game’s most feared opponents in Tom Finney. Elder wasn’t the only one celebrating in the Burnley dressing room. Outside right John Connelly had received a call up for the Football League while centre forward Ray Pointer had been selected for England Under-23s.

Early in the game Elder received a big cheer from the Deepdale crowd as he dispossessed Finney with both teams also having to thank their right backs for breaking up attacks. First Willie Cunningham stopped a Jimmy Robson breakaway then John Angus was alert to nip in and prevent Alec Alston from getting in a shot. Preston had started the better of the two teams and with just six minutes gone they took the lead. Sam Taylor took a corner that Angus let go. It rebounded to the wing man who centred again and this time FINNEY, surrounded by Burnley defenders, got between them to head home.

Preston were operating better in the midfield than Burnley but there was always a danger to their defence whenever Connelly was in possession. Burnley did have their chances. Miller couldn’t control a volley from a corner and Robson shot high and wide after having had his first effort charged down. Finney was making frequent excursions into the centre to try and draw Elder out of position with David Sneddon repeatedly moving to outside right in a temporary capacity. However, the young Irishman debutant showed a fine turn of speed and stuck to his difficult task gamely.

Burnley played better towards half time and even Tommy Cummings joined in with one attack. North End fell back on defence whenever Connelly came racing through and they supplemented that with use of the offside trap. There was not a great deal of brilliant football. Burnley were missing McIlroy as schemer although White was working tremendously hard.

In the second half Burnley continued to be too elaborate in their approach and Jimmy Adamson tried to open up play with cross field passes to Brian Pilkington to see if Cunningham could be out-manoeuvred. Neither side was passing the ball well, it was far more hopeful than accurate. Pilkington raised a roar when he charged Cunningham and Elder received applause for his first time distribution of the ball.

The referee took action against Cunningham for a foul on Pilkington, getting his book out to the Preston right back. From the free kick, three Preston players – Joe Dunn, Cunningham and Frank O’Farrell, were hurt in a wholesale collision but all were able to continue after attention from the trainers.

Burnley couldn’t find their finishing power and infringements became more frequent with Pilkington also finding his way into the referee’s notebook. The game all ended with Finney trying to set up a Preston attack, but it came to nothing and it was his goal that ensured both points stayed at Deepdale.

The disappointing result saw Burnley slip down one place to fourth in the table with Arsenal moving into third place. However, the top two of Spurs and Wolves were now two points clear after both won, Wolves recording a massive 9-0 victory over Fulham. Everton escaped the bottom two on goal average after beating Blackburn 2-0 at Goodison Park. That left Birmingham and Luton in the relegation positions just below Everton and Bolton. All four had five points.

Burnley could now settle down to one game per week after this game at Preston. The next midweek fixture in the league would not come until March. Saturday would see us travel to Newcastle as we tried to get back to winning ways on the road after the defeats at Chelsea and Preston.

The teams were;

Preston: Fred Else, Willie Cunningham, Joe Walton, Gordon Milne, Joe Dunn, Frank O’Farrell, Tom Finney, David Sneddon, Alec Alston, Gilbert Lambert, Sam Taylor.

Burnley: Adam Blacklaw, John Angus, Alex Elder, Jimmy Adamson, Tommy Cummings, Brian Miller, John Connelly, Billy White, Ray Pointer, Jimmy Robson, Brian Pilkington.

Referee: Mr L. J. Hamer (Halifax).

Attendance: 27,298.

First Division Results

Monday 14th September
Blackpool 3 Leicester 3
West Ham 1 Tottenham 2

Tuesday 15th September
Arsenal 2 Bolton 1
Preston 1 Burnley 0

Wednesday 16th September
Chelsea 4 Birmingham 2
Everton 2 Blackburn 0
Leeds 2 Manchester United 2
Manchester City 1 Luton 2
Newcastle 0 West Brom 0
Sheffield Wednesday 0 Nottingham Forest 1
Wolves 9 Fulham 0

League Table

Pos Team pld w d l f a ga pts
1 Tottenham 8 4 4 0 19 9 2.11 12
2 Wolves 8 5 2 1 28 14 2.00 12
3 Arsenal 8 4 3 1 14 8 1.75 11
4 Burnley 8 5 0 3 16 15 1.07 10
5 Blackburn 7 4 1 2 14 8 1.75 9
6 Preston 8 3 3 2 14 13 1.08 9
7 Nottingham Forest 8 3 3 2 9 10 0.90 9
8 Fulham 8 4 1 3 14 21 0.67 9
9 West Brom 8 2 4 2 15 11 1.36 8
10 Manchester United 8 3 2 3 21 17 1.24 8
11 Chelsea 8 3 2 3 19 19 1.00 8
12 West Ham 8 3 2 3 14 14 1.00 8
13 Leeds 8 3 2 3 12 17 0.71 8
14 Sheffield Wed 8 3 1 4 12 11 1.09 7
15 Blackpool 8 2 3 3 8 13 0.62 7
16 Leicester 8 2 3 3 11 18 0.61 7
17 Manchester City 8 3 0 5 15 20 0.75 6
18 Newcastle 8 2 2 4 12 16 0.75 6
19 Bolton 8 2 1 5 10 12 0.83 5
20 Everton 7 1 3 3 9 12 0.75 5
21 Birmingham 8 1 3 4 10 14 0.71 5
22 Luton 8 1 3 4 7 11 0.64 5
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