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Due to Sunderland’s involvement in an FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal, the Clarets were without a game on the first Saturday of April in 1973 but results elsewhere made it an excellent day for us and more than made up for the defeat at Nottingham Forest a week earlier.

Things had taken a turn for the worse during the week at the Vokes factories in Burnley when workers took over both factories with a sit in. They insisted they would continue until management met union officials over the redundancies. The 47 who had been made redundant had decided not to accept their notice and to refuse their redundancy payments. Divisional officer of the Association of Scientific and Managerial Staffs, Mr Peter Kennedy, said: “It’s a tale of delays and calculated deceit, as if we were being kept in ignorance on purpose. Employees made redundant have only received the minimum payments allowed by law. Many who have only worked here for two years have been offered one week’s pay, but it will take a lot longer than a week for workers to find another job.” He added: “This is just a test by the management to see how soft you are now. Next time they will know how much you will take from them.”

The Odeon was set to be demolished

The arguments over the planned closure of Central Baths continued when Liberal Group Leader Alderman John Sutcliffe was joined by the Burnley Express in supporting the decision. “It will be a good day for Burnley when Central Baths is closed,” headlined the local paper. It was all boiling up again with Councillor Ada Smith hitting out at the paper for publishing letters from the children wanting to keep the baths open, and also at teachers. “I take a very dim view of anyone who exploits children in a bid to make a sensational report,” she said, adding: “I think the teachers are carrying it to a point beyond which we can no longer be in sympathy with their methods.”

As that fight continued, news came of the closure of another landmark building which was set to go. The Odeon Cinema was to close. It was no longer an economic proposition in the days of dwindling cinema audiences and it was confirmed that, subject to planning permission, the building would be demolished to make way for a seven storey office block. A spokesman for the Rank Organisation, owners of the Odeon, hailed as one of the most modern cinemas of its type when opened 38 years previously, said: “We definitely want to demolish the cinema. It has ceased to be a commercial proposition because of small attendances. We would like to redevelop the site as a commercial block.” The news came in a week when they were showing ‘Taming of the Shrew’ featuring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. In the market square at the Studio Cinemas you could see a collection of films including ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ and ‘Unsatisfied Virgins’.

Something else new to town was its new motto. With the loss of the County Borough status to come in 1974 it had already been agreed at council that the previous motto of ‘Pretiumque Et Causa Laboris’ would be discontinued. The joint committee for the new Burnley District of the new Lancashire County Council had put the finishing touches to the new coat of arms and had decided to use the slogan ‘Hold To The Truth’ which was a translation of the old Towneley family motto of ‘Tenez le vraye’.

A name well known to everyone in the town was about to disappear after 27 years with the announcement that Mr C. V. Thornley, the town’s longest ever serving town clerk, was to retire. The council accepted his decision to retire and appointed his deputy Mr Brian Whittle in his place.

The temperatures in 1973 had been higher than we’ve experienced recently, other than for two or three days last week, but the weather was still not kind and a night of torrential rain caused severe flooding in several areas of town. One of the worst hit was Todmorden Road which was described as being like a river as a culvert failed to cope with the rain. Residents had to barricade their houses with sandbags and in Briercliffe Road residents in a row of cottages woke up to find a mixture of water and sewage flowing through their homes.

Burnley had no game but there was still some football news out of Turf Moor regarding the John Angus Testimonial and the big news was that Jimmy McIlroy was set to grace Turf Moor again. The testimonial was confirmed as a game between the current Burnley team and a team of current league footballers who had previously played for Burnley. As a warm up, a team of old stars would play a 20 minute match against the youth team and it was confirmed that McIlroy, Jimmy Adamson and Brian Miller would all definitely play.

McIlroy said: “I will have forgotten so much about football, but that, of course, won’t matter. All I hope is that it is a really successful evening for John Angus. I’m sure when I get into certain positions on the pitch it will bring back memories of particular incidents in past matches. I remember those penalties I used to take. They always gave me palpitations, wondering whether the ball would ever reach the goal. I might even play for a penalty.”

Others having already agreed to play in the warm up game were Tom FInney, Tommy Docherty, Bobby Charlton and John Connelly. Those clubs who had ex-Clarets playing for them had been approached regarding the release of those players and already Brian O’Neil, Sammy Todd and Alex Elder had sent ‘count us in’ messages.

Burnley were sitting this day out because scheduled opponents Sunderland were otherwise engaged playing Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough which the Wearside club won 2-1 with goals from Vic Halom and Billy Hughes. For us the attention was very much on the Manor Ground at Oxford where any sort of positive result for visitors QPR would see them go above us into first place. Oxford ensured that didn’t happen with a 2-0 win with Hugh Curran scoring a goal in each half. There was even better news with the next two in the table, Blackpool and Sheffield Wednesday, both losing so it meant even without even playing it had been a good day.

It was all so simple now. To win promotion we needed a maximum of four points from the remaining six games and that would reduce to three points should we avoid defeat against Sunderland when the game was played on 16th April.

The promotion chase was all but won with just then the battle to win the league over QPR who remained a point behind us from the same number of games but with a better goal average.

Surely even the most negative of Burnley fans of the time must have realised promotion was all but certain.

Second Division Results

Saturday 7th April 1973
Bristol City 4 Carlisle 1
Cardiff 1 Swindon 1
Hull 1 Aston Villa 2
Luton 1 Fulham 0
Middlesbrough 1 Brighton 1
Millwall 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1
Orient 3 Nottingham Forest 0
Oxford 2 QPR 0
Portsmouth 1 Blackpool 0
Preston 0 Huddersfield 0

Burnley’s Goalscorers

12: Paul Fletcher
11: Martin Dobson
9: Frank Casper
8: Leighton James
6: Geoff Nulty
4: Dave Thomas
3: Billy Ingham & Colin Waldron
1: Dough Collins, Keith Newton & own goals

League Table

Pos Team pld w d l f a ga pts
1 Burnley 36 19 13 4 59 34 1.74 51
2 QPR 36 19 12 5 71 37 1.92 50
3 Aston Villa 37 16 11 10 45 43 1.05 43
4 Blackpool 38 16 10 12 52 47 1.11 42
5 Sheffield Weds 38 16 9 13 57 50 1.14 41
6 Oxford 37 17 6 14 48 37 1.30 40
7 Bristol City 38 14 12 12 56 48 1.17 40
8 Luton 36 15 10 11 43 41 1.05 40
9 Fulham 37 14 11 12 52 43 1.21 39
10 Middlesbrough 38 13 13 12 36 40 0.90 39
11 Millwall 37 15 7 15 52 44 1.18 37
12 Nottingham Forest 37 13 11 13 42 43 0.98 37
13 Sunderland 32 12 10 10 47 40 1.18 34
14 Hull 35 11 11 13 55 53 1.04 33
15 Swindon 38 9 14 15 44 58 0.76 32
16 Portsmouth 37 11 10 16 39 52 0.75 32
17 Carlisle 37 11 9 17 47 47 1.00 31
18 Orient 36 10 11 15 41 44 0.93 31
19 Preston 37 10 11 16 33 57 0.58 31
20 Huddersfield 37 7 16 14 33 47 0.70 30
21 Cardiff 35 10 8 17 36 50 0.72 28
22 Brighton 37 7 11 19 41 74 0.55 25
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