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Burnley had completed their fixtures for 1998 with a home game against Walsall to kick off the next year on 2nd January, but, as we prepared for the AGM, there was massive news coming ready to come out of Turf Moor.

The AGM was held on the evening of 30th December but by the time the shareholders sat down in the James Hargreaves Suite, manager Stan Ternent had made a big signing and there was another new player to come in too before the fireworks to herald the arrival of 1999.

Earlier in the season, we’d been linked with a move for Luton’s former Burnley defender Steve Davis. At the time it was a fanciful thought and a move that was never, ever likely to happen, but as Burnley FC were set to move into a new era, that’s exactly what did happen.

Steve Davis is welcomed back to Turf Moor by manager Stan Ternent

We smashed our transfer record to bring the 30-year-old Davis back to Burnley in a £750,000 deal and one of the best players of the 1990s had returned after three and a half years with Luton.

“I had always hoped I would come back,” a clearly delighted Davis said on completing the move. “Although it is sooner than I expected, I am delighted. I only found out about the move on Tuesday, and I was surprised. I knew there had been some interest in me, but it was out of the blue.”

After a short loan spell in the 1989/90 season, he moved to Burnley in the summer of 1991 to replace Steve Davis, the previous captain, who had signed for Barnsley and was with us for four years during which time we won two promotions and then suffered a relegation.

He said of his time at Burnley previously: “I look back on my four years at Burnley as the best of my career, and hopefully we can emulate what we did in that time, and maybe go that step further. Burnley shouldn’t be where they are in the league, everyone knows where they should be. It is up to the players to do their stuff on the pitch and get the right results and promotion.”

He was on a long deal at Luton but said: “I didn’t take much persuading. Hopefully we can make the club successful again, that’s why I am here.”

The deal was more than double the previous record, the £350,000 Adrian Heath paid Birmingham for Paul Barnes with new director, and chairman elect, Barry Kilby explaining “With the signing of Steve, the club is putting a marker down showing the direction it is heading in. And if the shareholders get behind the rights issue, we will be able to bring in more players like that. The funds coming in will help oil the wheels to get more players of that calibre.”

The final word was from manager and Stan said: “I said I wouldn’t just sign anyone, and I still have three or four signings in mind. Steve is a quality player, the type the club and fans deserve. Everything about the move is right and shows the club is heading in the right direction.

“He is an extremely good player who will certainly strengthen the side. He is not scared to play at Turf Moor, which isn’t the easiest place to play with the expectation. He is a no risk signing and will play on Saturday. You don’t pay that sort of money to put him in the stand.”

The Davis signing really was the talking point ahead of the AGM which was followed by a special EGM to vote on the rights issue motion. The signing had certainly taken the anger away from some there and it was likened to a Bob Lord style meeting when he would always seemingly pull a rabbit out of the hat in difficult times.

I recall one such meeting in 1977 when we were struggling. Lord was asked what was to be done and said: “There will be two new signings for Saturday.” That quietened everyone. He was true to his word too; Brian Hall and Steve Kindon were signed.

The board ahead of the AGM – Frank Teasdale, Barry Kilby, Bob Blakeborough and Clive Holt

One departed director, namely Bernard Rothwell, took a hammering from Basil Dearing, who had left the board two years previously. Dearing took the microphone to tell the meeting: “I deplore the way in which two retiring directors sold their shares to Barry Kilby rather than allowing that money to be ploughed back into the club.

“We know that Mr Rothwell and Mr Iven sold their shares on September 28th. Yet the day after that Mr Rothwell was quoted in a local paper as saying the club was in dire need of funds. I want to hear them say that even though they have taken money out they want to put that money back in. I have not heard them say that.”

Rothwell tried to explain that it was the only way that new director Barry Kilby could get involved and ended by saying: “We’ve done enough and Burnley FC will benefit from our actions.”

At that point, former chairman John Jackson challenged Rothwell to purchase his shares at £200 per share, the amount per share Rothwell had received from Mr Kilby. Rothwell said he would rather put the money into the club than Mr Jackson’s pocket. “That is exactly the point we are making,” Jackson said. “We wish you had put the money into the club and not into your own pocket.”

“I will not be challenged like this,” Rothwell shouted across the floor. “What is my business is my business.”

New chairman Barry Kilby in discussions with David Parry and local businessman John Turkington after the meeting

David Parry was there, representing Ray Ingleby, but it was very noticeable that retiring chairman Mr Frank Teasdale would not refer to Mr Ingleby by name, just as an interested party. Parry told the meeting that Ingleby was fully behind the new chairman.

It all ended with former major shareholder John Gilbraith telling Mr Kilby: “You can see what’s gone wrong with this club. Factions are working against each other. Mr Kilby, please knock their heads together and get them working together. If you don’t, this club will not be successful.”

There was more to come. On the following day, Burnley signed 26-year-old left winger Graham Branch from Stockport on a one-year deal. Ternent was delighted and told the local press: “Graham is one of the players I’ve been tracking for a while. He can play wide or up front, he has lots of pace and he can score goals. It will give us a bit more competition for places.”

But the manager had words about the Burnley fans and the effect they had on some of his players. He warned them: “Some of the supporters do not let them play, or they are not good enough for you. Some players cannot handle Burnley Football Club.“

We were now ready for a new era. Stan Ternent had told the meeting he was aiming for promotion by the end of the next season and that the work had really started with the Davis signing. New chairman Kilby was hoping to be able to give him all the backing he needed.

Suddenly, we were all looking forward to the New Year.

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