We travel to Turf Moor on Saturday after back-to-back victories. We first played Burnley in 1961 in the FA Cup. Despite appalling weather at the Goldstone, the game was a thriller, ending up 3-3.
Burnley were the reigning league champions and it was a fantastic result for Albion. We lost the replay 2-0 and Burnley went on to reach the semi-final.
Fast forward 31 years and Albion and Burnley were together in the third tier. The Premier League was in its first season so despite being relegated the previous campaign, Albion found themselves still in Division Two.
After a shaky start, we had put together a run of results and came into the Boxing Day fixture with the Clarets on the back of a six-game unbeaten run.
Manager Barry Lloyd was worried about the recent run of games, and the effect it could have on the players. “The fatigue appeared to show towards the end of the Plymouth game last week” he said, going on to say, “we played some good stuff but I think it was, perhaps a case of tired legs and weary minds as the final whistle approached”.
Team-wise, Lloyd brought in Perry Digweed in goal, for his first start of the season. Mark Beeney was suspended and this was the only change from the previous game. The back four was Gary Chivers, Ian Chapman, Paul McCarthy and John Crumplin. In midfield, Nicky Bissett was partnered by Clive Walker, Andy Kennedy and Dean Wilkins. Up front, Robert Codner and Kurt Nogan were tasked with providing the goals.
The previous games had shown that we were beginning to show some real fluency in our play. Unusually, we had scored more goals away from home and there was a feeling that the team did not relish running out at the Goldstone. This feeling was put to bed early in the game, with Albion passing and moving with fluency and purpose. The reward was a goal from Nogan before half-time.
The second half continued in the same vein and the 8,741 who had dragged themselves off their sofa for the game were enjoying themselves. Nogan added another and a rare strike from Crumplin sealed an emphatic 3-0 win. Lloyd was delighted with the performance. “If we can gain confidence from that performance it will stand us in good stead”.
We continued to build on the good work against Burnley and at one stage, there was a real feeling we would bounce straight back to the second tier. A run of three defeats in the final four games put paid to that but there was real hope that we could make a push for promotion in the following campaign.
Financial problems at the club came to a head towards the end of the season, with the Inland Revenue presenting Albion with a winding-up order.
After many attempts to re-structure the finances, we were only saved by the £350,000 raised by the sale of Beeney to Leeds United. Lloyd himself took the resulting bank draft to the local tax office and the immediate threat to our existence was averted.
More Albion programmes, fanzines and handbooks can be viewed at www.seagullsprogrammes.co.uk
HAVE YOU READ?