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Two big events in two days saw the Clarets continue to celebrate the 1973 promotion back to Division One, but the news wasn’t quite so good for one ex-Claret who saw his league career come to an end at the age of just 29.

The first of the two events was the civic reception held at the prestigious Keirby Hotel in Burnley.  The dinner was given by the Mayor of Burnley, Councillor Abel Bridge to mark Burnley’s return to the top league of English football but also to celebrate the achievements of fellow Lancashire clubs Liverpool, Bolton and Southport who had won the other three divisions.

Billy Ingham presents manager Jimmy Adamson with a silver salver

Over 120 guests heard Burnley chairman Mr Bob Lord say that Burnley’s promotion was down to a manager who was ‘a world beater‘ but manager Adamson was quick to heap praise on his players, singling out three in particular. Those players were skipper Martin Dobson, left back Keith Newton and forward Frank Casper.

“At Turf Moor, Martin is known as the squire because of the way he dresses,” Adamson said. “He is known over a much wider area as the best footballer in the Second Division. Personally, I reckon he is the best player in any division in the Football League.” The manager described Casper as a model footballer who had, previously, not gained any honour with his two clubs, Rotherham and Burnley. “Now he has achieved something and we are very happy for him,” said Adamson. He said Newton, who he said had been on the scrap heap before signing for Burnley, as the missing piece in the jigsaw.

The civic reception was followed by the less formal players’ party . It was gate crashed by 700 supporters at the Cats Whiskers, including some long haired louts as can be seen on the photograph. Impressionist Paul Melba provided the cabaret but it was Geoff Nulty and Eddie Cliff who stole the show with the rest of the first team squad as backing singers accompanied by one player who believed things had turned out nice again playing with his ukulele. There was a surprise too for the staff as Jimmy Adamson, Joe Brown, Brian Miller, George Bray and Jimmy Holland all received gifts from the players.

There hadn’t, however, been such good news for former prolific goalscorer Willie Irvine who found himself in lumber with his club Halifax after playing in the John Angus testimonial. He’d started the season at Brighton, and played against us at the Goldstone Ground, before moving to Halifax where he hadn’t been involved with the first team since the beginning of March. Even so, he was instructed to pull out of the game at Turf Moor and travel with the Halifax team to Walsall for a Third Division game. He defied their orders and played at Burnley. As a result of his action he was fined two weeks wages, a total of around £100, for what was described as a serious breach of club discipline.

Irvine said: “It meant a tremendous amount to me to play in the testimonial for John, who has been a great colleague to me and many other players at Burnley. I had not been in the Halifax team for about three months and I was not expected to play at Walsall. I went into this with both eyes open. I realised what would happen, but I have no regrets. If I had the choice I would do the same again.” Subsequently, Willie was released by Halifax, bringing to an end his Football League career at the age of 29.

Meanwhile, Adamson’s team building was in progress and the manager confirmed that former Manchester United defender Willie Watson would be joining the Clarets when the players reported back for pre-season training. A 24-year-old Scot from Motherwell he had been released by United and Adamson was impressed with the versatility of the player who could operate either at full back or in the centre of defence. He was playing in the United States but Adamson confirmed he would be at Gawthorpe for pre-season and suggested it could be a trial period.

Guests at the players’ party

He’d already brought in one new player, and a player who had previously been such a familiar figure at Turf Moor. Adamson moved quickly after clinching promotion to sign 34-year-old Jimmy Robson as a youth development player. He said: “I have been looking for a player of his type for some time. We know Jimmy’s character and we know he will do a good job for us.” Admitting to being shocked when he heard Burnley wanted to sign him, Robson said: “It was a pleasant surprise. At this stage of my career it could not be a better move for me. I live in Burnley and still have a great feeling for the club. I’m very happy to be coming back.”

As new players come in to a football club then inevitably other players leave and Burnley confirmed they were releasing two 18-year-olds, defender Joe McNamara and goalkeeper Jim Highdale.

Having just won our promotion, the Football League announced that they were about to make it easier for us to be relegated by changing the rules on promotion and relegation that had been in place for years. At the time it was two up/two down between the First and Second Divisions, and similarly between the Second and Third Divisions, with a four up/four down rule between Divisions Three and Four. A change in the relegation and promotion rules was being put in place to start immediately. It was to increase the numbers going up and down from two to three between those top three divisions.

Some clubs wanted it increasing to four all round, led by Derby who had put the proposition forward initially, but the compromise of three up/three down was agreed on. One year on from this the first team to be relegated from the First Division after finishing third from bottom was Southampton who finished the season above Manchester United and Norwich.

Due to current restrictions, our look at the 1973/74 will have to wait for a short time and will probably be covered in the 50th anniversary season. It has been enjoyable recalling the second of what is now five promotions to the top division in post-war football.

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