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On the day when Burnley have secured a place in next season’s Premier League, the club and fans have been hit with the sad news that former captain Peter Noble has passed away after a long illness at the age of 72.

What a player he was for us for over six years after signing from Swindon in the summer of 1973, our only signing after winning promotion back to the old First Division. He had history with us; he scored twice for the Swindon team that knocked us out of the 1968/69 League Cup at the semi-final stage, but once a Claret he became one of the most popular players in the 1970s.

Burnley were his third league club. He’d previously played for Newcastle United, much to the disappointment of his Sunderland supporting dad, and Peter himself was always a Mackem when it came to football in the North East although he and his family settled in Burnley after the end of his playing days.

board 18 peter nobleWe thought we’d signed a centre-forward but circumstances led to him playing much of his first season at Burnley in the right-back position after coming on for Mick Docherty in the opening game. He did well, but stood out once he moved into a more favoured midfield position from which he was a real driving force, a regular goalscorer and that doesn’t include the many penalties he scored.

The Burnley fans christened him Uwe due to his likeness to former Germany striker Uwe Seeler. It probably had much to do with the lack of hair but there was a similarity and the chant for the captain was always Uwe, Uwe, Uwe.

On one occasion, at Bolton in the New Year game in 1978, he played in the centre of defence. We were bottom of the league and they were top but we went there, played superbly well and came home with a 2-1 win courtesy of two Ian Brennan goals. I saw Noble on the following day. He told me that playing at the back was easy and if he continued it would extend his career by a few more years because there was less running to do.

In his later years as a Claret he opened his sports shop in the market hall and that gave many Burnley fans the opportunity to get to know him. There was always a welcome from him and it was the first destination for sports items that you could now buy from a Burnley player.

The 1979/80 season was a bad one for Burnley as we dropped into the Third Division and during that season some of the more experienced players left the club. Paul Fletcher, Steve Kindon and Leighton James all departed as did Noble who moved to Blackpool under the management of Stan Ternent.

By then he was aged 35 but went on to play over 100 games for Blackpool before finally retiring from the game although he did make one further appearance for Burnley at Wembley ahead of the Sherpa Van Trophy Final.

I always felt young when I spoke to him because he always called me son. Someone once told me: “He calls everyone son,” to which I replied: “Not when he’s talking to me.”

I once asked him why, as a Sunderland fan, he allowed himself to play for Newcastle. He explained that he was working as a painter and decorator while playing part time for Consett. Newcastle were the only club to make him an offer.

He said to me that had I been playing for Padiham and working as a painter and decorator and I got the chance to go and play top flight football for Blackburn, what would I do. I said: “I’d go and get some more paint and get back to work.”

He was engaging company but unfortunately he’s been suffering from ill health for some time. Today has become a very sad day for Burnley Football Club with his passing, another player I so much admired leaving us.

My thoughts are very much with his wife Jenny, his two daughters and their family and friends.

Uwe, you were fantastic for Burnley Football Club and I was honoured recently to see you placed alongside other greats on the Jimmy McIlroy Stand. Rest in Peace.

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