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It was ground ticking day for Burnley fans for a first ever visit to Moss Rose, the home of Macclesfield Town and a game that in all honesty should never have taken place given the state of the waterlogged pitch.

Last week I experienced a horrible situation when two schoolboys, maybe around 14-years old, verbally abused an older lady who had dared to ask them not to push in to a bus queue. It really was dreadful to witness but leaves you helpless other than to offer some support to the lady who really had done nothing wrong at all.

It seems little has changed in a quarter of a century with the Burnley Express leading with a story of school pupils’ behaviour on buses in this week in 1998. The most serious of the incidents back then were the throwing of lit fireworks through the windows from the top deck of a bus. The driver took the bus, which was a school service, directly to the police station. It led to two boys being excluded from their school.

On the following day, police were called to the bus station after two vehicles were badly damaged and Phil Browne, the operations manager of bus company Stagecoach, confirmed: “There are problems nearly every day. On occasions we have had to call police to eject some kids.”

The firework throwing boys were pupils at Habergham High School and headmaster Mr David Clayton confirmed an investigation was underway although he stressed that parents were responsible for the behaviour of the children and not the school. He said he’d offered a suggestion of placing a conductor on each bus as well as a driver but this had not been taken up by the bus company.

I suppose the incident I witnessed last week is nothing like as bad as things back in 1998 but still totally unacceptable.

It’s not all one way though, and in the same week, 14-year-old Paul Coates had registered a number of complaints with Stagecoach over the Harle Syke to Rosegrove service. “The problem is that it runs early nearly every day from Monday to Friday,” Paul explained. “The bus on numerous occasions has left far too early, therefore my mother misses the bus.”

Paul had spoken to Mr Browne but said: “I haven’t once got an apology. I have told Mr Browne that the service they are running is useless but he doesn’t seem to mind.”  Mr Browne confirmed that they were going out on time, or within a minute of them being on time.

When I was at school, Nitty Nora used to turn up occasionally to check us all for head lice. No longer, the Burnley Express reported that the nit nurses had been given the brush off with reports that around half of head lice infestations occur outside the classroom. Dr Roberta Marshall, who held the position of East Lancashire Health Authority Consultant in Communicable Disease Control, confirmed: “What we have done is to abandon a procedure which was not working rather than banning and not allowing head inspections to take place.” She advised it was best to check at home by using a fine comb through damp hair.

Sometimes a court case shocks me and there was one in this week when Ian King and Francis Gregg, aged 36 and 33, were both given six year jail sentences. They were found guilty of a violent sex attack on a grandmother who eventually escaped to run naked in the street, screaming and seriously burned with her grandchildren sleeping upstairs. I really don’t have any wish to add any further detail to this.

Before travelling to Macclesfield, there was some good news for the sister of a former Claret. Mrs Connie Holmes’ brother was George Waterfield who had played for Burnley between 1923 and 1935, making just under 400 appearances for the club during which time he also made an international appearance for England. George had died ten years previously but his sister had retained all his football awards including a gold medal he’d won and that item had been stolen from her home in Blackpool. Her and her husband Derek appealed for its return and offered a £500 reward. Within hours the medal was indeed returned by a man who had bought it earlier in the day in good faith. He even refused to accept the reward.

Stan Ternent confirmed that all of Gordon Armstrong, Mark Robertson, Paul Smith, Andy Cooke and Andy Payton were doubts for the game at Macclesfield with Smith the major doubt having hobbled off during the win against Oldham four days earlier.

Glen Little equalises for the Clarets with a stunning strike

With two wins and three draws in the previous five games, Ternent said: “It’s important for us to keep our unbeaten run going. We have been playing a lot better and are gaining confidence with every game. It will be a hard game for us, but it’s a derby and we will have a lot of fans cheering us on. Every game is tough for us at the moment because we have been cut down because of injuries, but we have responded well and we want to build on the success we have been having recently.”

There were two big surprises for Burnley fans arriving at Moss Rose. Firstly, we had a new signing in the team. Stan had made a move that morning to bring in Everton’s 23-year-old John O’Kane on loan, a player who he’d also twice taken on loan to Bury from Manchester United.

But the big shock was the fact that referee Andy Hall, who developed a reputation for allowing games to go ahead on unfit pitches, even considered allowing the game to be played on a pitch that was quite simply waterlogged. The concern for us, the fans, in the pouring rain was that we were situated on an open terrace but some of us were allowed to take seats in a temporary stand that looked out of place on a football ground.

Armstrong,. Cooke and Payton made it; Robertson and Smith didn’t and things didn’t go too well for us in the first half when we were very much second best although there could have been early goals at both ends. Rune Vindheim cleared a Peter Smith shot off the line and then Glen Little, the game’s outstanding player, shot just wide of goal.

But we went behind when we allowed Ben SEDGEMORE to pick the ball up in midfield and get in a shot which beat the unsighted Gavin Ward on its way into the corner of the net.

Ryan Price denies Brad Maylett an equaliser right at the end

We made a change before we’d played half an hour with Carl Smith replacing the injured Peter Swan and the different formation helped us although the only thing we picked up during the first half was yellow cards with all of Armstrong, Chris Scott and Cooke all going in the referee’s book.

Things went from bad to worse for Cooke early in the second half. With less than four minutes gone, he received a straight red card having elbowed Efe Sodje off the ball. It left us a goal down and with ten men and fears that it could get worse with referee Hall showing further yellow cards to Little and O’Kane.

We were now playing well and Ternent sent on Brad Maylett with previous substitute Carl Smith going off. In the next attack we drew level with a very special goal. Little picked up the ball from O’Kane and did what Little did, going on a mazy run that saw him beat Darren Tinson, Sodje and Steve Hitchen. There was still a lot to be done but LITTLE whipped in a shot from 20-yards into the top right hand corner for a stunning goal.

We thought we’d got a point at least, but it wasn’t to be. With little time left, Peter SMITH took a ball from a Tinson throw, spun Scott, got a very fortunate ricochet off Brian Reid and beat Ward with his shot to restore Macclesfield’s lead. They retained that lead too although Ryan Price was forced into making an outstanding save right at the end to deny Maylett.

The unbeaten run was over with the team now having a free week before the visit of Wrexham seven days later.

The teams were;

Macclesfield: Ryan Price, Darren Tinson, Steve Hitchen, Steve Payne, Martin McDonald, Efe Sodje, Kieron Durkan (Steve Wood 78), Neil Sorvel (John Ashley 72), Peter Smith, Ben Sedgemore, Stuart Whittaker. Sub not used: Neil Howarth.

Burnley: Gavin Ward, Chris Scott, Peter Swan (Carl Smith 28, Brad Maylett 70), Brian Reid, Gordon Armstrong, Glen Little, Rune Vindheim, John O’Kane, Phil Eastwood, Andy Cooke, Andy Payton. Subs  not used: Colin Carr-Lawton.

Referee: Andy Hall (Birmingham).

Attendance: 3,995.

Preston’s place at the top was a brief one. Having gone above Stoke on the Tuesday, they drew 1-1 at Northampton with Stoke beating Wigan at home to go two points clear. It was a weekend of fixtures that saw some games called off because of the weather, and a weekend when there were no goalscorers at all with any Burnley connections.

Despite our defeat, we remained in fifteenth place in the league.

Division Two Results

Saturday 24th October
Fulham 4 Walsall 1
Gillingham 1 Luton 0
Macclesfield 2 Burnley 1
Manchester City 0 Reading 1
Northampton 1 Preston 1
Notts County 1 Bristol Rovers 1
Oldham 0 Wycombe 0
Stoke 2 WIgan 1
Wrexham 0 Millwall 0

Burnley Goalscorers (League)

8: Andy Payton
5: Andy Cooke
2: Rune Vindheim
1; Gordon Armstrong, Glen Little, Brian Reid

Burnley Goalscorers (Cups)

1: Andy Cooke, Andy Payton

Leading Goalscorers

9: Richard Cresswell (York)
8: Stuart Barlow (Wigan), Shaun Goater (Manchester City), Andy Payton (Burnley)
7: Barry Hayles (Bristol Rovers), Andy Rammell (Walsall), Martin Williams (Reading)
6: Carl Asaba (Gillingham), Dean Crowe (Stoke), Kurt Nogan (Preston), Mark Stein (Bournemouth)
5: Martin Aldridge (Blackpool), Andy Cooke (Burnley), Carlo Corazzin (Northampton), Steve Davis (Luton), David Eyres (Preston), Ian Hendon (Notts County), Graham Kavanagh (Stoke), Paul Shaw (Millwall)

League Table

Pos Team pld w d l f a gd pts
1 Stoke 15 10 1 4 22 13 9 31
2 Preston 15 8 5 2 28 15 13 29
3 Fulham 13 8 3 2 20 10 10 27
4 Luton 15 8 3 4 20 13 7 27
5 Walsall 15 8 2 5 19 19 0 26
6 Bournemouth 14 6 5 3 20 13 7 23
7 Chesterfield 14 6 4 4 11 9 2 22
8 Millwall 15 6 4 5 16 16 0 22
9 Bristol Rovers 15 5 6 4 18 15 3 21
10 Manchester City 14 5 6 3 18 16 2 21
11 Blackpool 14 6 3 5 19 19 0 21
12 Gillingham 15 4 8 3 22 16 6 20
13 Wrexham 15 5 5 5 15 19 -4 20
14 York 13 5 4 4 21 21 0 19
15 Burnley 15 4 5 6 18 18 0 17
16 Wigan 14 5 2 7 16 16 0 17
17 Notts County 15 4 5 6 18 20 -2 17
18 Reading 13 4 4 5 13 18 -5 16
19 Colchester 14 4 4 6 13 19 -6 16
20 Macclesfield 15 3 5 7 13 21 -8 14
21 Northampton 15 2 7 6 15 19 -4 13
22 Oldham 15 3 3 9 12 22 -10 12
23 Lincoln 14 3 2 9 14 25 -11 11
24 Wycombe 15 2 4 9 12 21 -9 10
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