Wembley Winner Wade
Back in January 2005, we beat Liverpool in the third round of the FA Cup, a game that will be remembered by Burnley fans for the bizarre Djimi Traore own goal that gave us a 1-0 win on the night.
Over four years later, we beat Sheffield United by the same scoreline at Wembley to win a place in the Premier League for the first time. Maybe without that Traore goal, the Wembley win might not have happened.
Having beaten Liverpool, we knew we were to play Bournemouth in round four. The Dorset club weren’t at all happy; they’d wanted a trip to Anfield to make a bit more money, but instead they played in front of a crowd of under 10,000 and went out 2-0 to two Ian Moore goals. John Oster made his Burnley debut that day; Eddie Howe was an unused substitute for the visitors who came with a 4-4-2 formation which included a midfield four of Wade Elliott, John Spicer, Brian Stock and Garreth O’Connor. All four of them would go on to play for Burnley.
Bournemouth impressed that day and should probably have won. So impressive were they that Steve Cotterill was immediately linked with two of their players. One of the two was left-back Warren Cummings with the second thought to be midfielder Brian Stock.
Just a few weeks later, Cummings suffered a season ending injury. He didn’t play at all in the following season either and it was August 2006 before he took to the field again. Stock didn’t leave Bournemouth that summer but signed for Preston in the following January.
On 17th May, just nine days after the final game of the season at Millwall, Burnley confirmed the signings of both O’Connor and Elliott who, by the time the transfer window closed, had been joined at Turf Moor by Spicer.
O’Connor made a good start to his Burnley career but quickly fell by the wayside, falling out with both Cotterill and his successor Owen Coyle on the way. Spicer, who was tipped to be the best of the three, had a better start, but faded away once Coyle came in. Both left at the end of the 2007/08 season.
O’Connor had returned to Bournemouth on loan for a time but on his release from Burnley, he signed for and played three times for Luton before returning to Ireland. Spicer, who is still in his thirties, went on to play for Doncaster, Leyton Orient, Notts County and Southend but hasn’t played since his final game for Southend ten years ago.
Both had long gone from the first team by the end of that 2007/08 season but by the time the next season kicked off the Bournemouth Three had definitely become the Bournemouth One.
On the day that Elliott & O’Connor signed, I spoke to the manager on a different matter and just said to him that he must be delighted to have got the two signed. He said he was pleased but no more than pleased, explaining that when asking players to step up a league, you just never know.
Elliott was the one who stepped up although even he took some time. He started his first season well but lost his place to an injury after three games, missing the next three. He returned to open his Burnley account, scoring twice in a 3-3 home draw against Cardiff but for much of the season he was in and out but did start half of the games and was used as a substitute on a number of other occasions. He scored just once more, that the dramatic winner in the game against a Millwall side who left Turf Moor without a single point but three red cards.
He’d served his apprenticeship at Championship level and rarely over the next five seasons did we play without him in the side. We played 222 in those five years; Elliott started 197 of them and came on as a substitute in a further fifteen and during this time he became one of our key players.
Looking back on that 2006/07 season, there are two games stand out as much as any in terms of Elliott’s performances and both came during the terrific start to the season, prior to that horrendous run of eighteen league games without a win. In a great team performance, he was superb in the 4-1 win at Norwich and his delivery of the ball from the right as we beat Preston 3-2 at home was memorable.
Never a prolific scorer, he did claim our goal of the season too at Sunderland in the final away game of the season with a sensational strike. That was something he repeated in the following season too; he scored the goal in the 1-0 home win against Charlton at the cricket field end, another superb goal.
Towards the end of that season, his contract was coming to an end and there were fears that we would lose him for free on a Bosman, the way we’d signed him from Bournemouth. But he committed to three more years at the Turf, a deal that was subsequently extended, much to the delight of the Burnley fans.
By now he’d become one of our key players; he’d completed a double in 2007/08 adding player of the year to bis goal of the season, and he had another superb time in the epic 2008/09. He won neither of those awards this time round but came close to grabbing both.
He was beaten by Robbie Blake for the player of the year with Martin Paterson also ahead of his third place finish. As for goal of the season, he scored one special goal but it didn’t win it. That special goal came at Wembley in the play-off final. He received the ball on the right hand side in our half and proceeded to go on a superb run before playing in Chris McCann. When the ball came back to him he curled an absolute beauty into the corner.
How on earth did that not win him the goal of the season for a third successive time? We just need to go back a few days to Reading and that unbelievable strike from Paterson which was a worthy winner. Elliott played his part in that goal too. By now playing in a more central role, his run wide helped take a defender away to enable Paterson a smoother run forward.
In a desperately disappointing season in the Premier League, he was undoubtedly one of our better players and scored another superb goal at Hull; that was never going to win goal of the season though, that had been decided when Blake scored in August against Manchester United.
He was targeted by Bolton that summer with their manager Coyle knowing he only had one year remaining on his contract. That was never going to happen; he signed his new deal at Burnley and enjoyed scoring our winner against Coyle’s team in the League Cup.
Still a key player following relegation, he didn’t miss a game until February. Where he’d been a first pick for Cotterill, Coyle and Brian Laws, it wasn’t the case under Eddie Howe’s management. Eventually he was restored to the team after a difficult run and he bemused all of us when he scored a headed goal in the 4-2 win at Derby.
That proved to be his final goal for us. He started the first two games of the next season and came on as a substitute in the next two. I think everyone knew that all was not well and it came as no surprise when he was sold to Birmingham.
Twice playing against us for Birmingham, alongside his former captain Steven Caldwell, the pair received terrific receptions from the Burnley supporters. What else would you expect for the Wembley winning captain and goal scorer? At Birmingham in particular it was special when the pair came straight down to the away fans at the end of the game.
Having left Birmingham for Bristol City to rejoin Cotterill, he eventually went onto their coaching staff. Early in the 2015/16 he walked down the touchline before our game at Ashton Gate. The Burnley fans hadn’t forgotten the Wembley here and Wade looked visibly moved as he walked in front of the away end.
Pleased was Cotterill’s word at the signings. Elliott’s signing proved to be every bit as good as his calculated risk to bring in Michael Duff. He proved to be a superb signing for the Clarets and one who will be remembered for a long time.Follow UpTheClarets:
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