At the time they were getting used to a new division and a new manager. Gudjon Thordason was sacked after winning promotion and former Cheltenham boss Steve Cotterill was in charge.
By mid October they had reached 15th place and could look back on an unbeaten run of five games following the Turf Moor defeat. Cotterill was proving popular but suddenly that all changed when he walked out to become number two to Howard Wilkinson at Sunderland.
Dave Kevan took over as caretaker but presided over four defeats before Tony Pulis arrived as the permanent replacement for Cotterill. Things weren’t a lot better then and the next four were also lost, in fact Stoke didn’t win again until 28th December and a 3-2 home win against Sheffield Wednesday which they then followed up with a 2-1 win, again at home, against Craig Brown’s struggling Preston.
If they thought that was to bring about a turnaround in their fortunes they were mistaken and when they beat Walsall two days ago it was their first league win since the New Year’s Day victory over Preston.
In fact before the win over Walsall they had found themselves bottom of the league although they have now moved up a place and above Sheffield Wednesday.
Pulis has been able to strengthen his squad recently with the free signings of goalkeeper Steve Banks from Bolton and Coventry striker Lee Mills, both following loan periods, and he currently has Marcus Hall (Southampton) and Frazer Richardson (Leeds) on loan.
The lowest point of the season came just last Saturday when they went down 6-0 to Forest at the City Ground, it was this result that saw them hit the bottom place. So Wednesday’s win was vital against Walsall.
Stoke attacked Walsall from the off and deservedly went in front through Lee Mills after just 19 minutes. It became an end to end encounter but Stoke always looked the more likely scorers.
They lined up: Steve Banks, Marcus Hall, Sergei Shtaniuk, Brynjar Gunnarsson, Peter Handyside, Wayne Thomas, James O’Connor, Peter Hoekstra, Bjarni Gudjonsson, Lee Mills (Chris Ilewumo 76), Chris Greenacre (Lewis Neal 85). Subs not used: Neil Cutler, Frazer Richardson, Andy Cooke.
They have scored 35 league goals this season and their leading scorer is former Claret Andy Cooke with six. Cookey though hasn’t played a part in any league game since Boxing Day.
He played for both
For some reason the former central defender was given the nickname ‘BIG’ and Big Vince made his Burnley debut in a 2-1 home defeat against Orient in November 1979. Phil Cavener debuted on the same day and Vince’s brother Richard came on as a sub and the two Oversons ended the game as our central defensive partnership.
He soon established himself in the first team and was a crowd favourite with his committed style. He settled into a defence of teenagers with Brian Laws, Micky Phelan and Andy Wharton with the experienced Martin Dobson as sweeper as the Clarets went 20 games without defeat and stormed through to win the 3rd Division in 1982.
An injury towards the end of that season was to put him out of the game for virtually a year. By the time he returned we were facing inevitable relegation back to the 3rd and then two years later he was in the side that went down to the 4th.
He stayed for one more year, our first in Division Four, but it ended with a sour taste because of his relationship with then manager Tommy Cavanagh. Let’s just say that Vince doesn’t like him and certainly could not cope with the Burnley manager waddling round in Manchester United clothing.
John Bond took him to Birmingham and there and later at Stoke he captained teams at Wembley. Whilst at Birmingham he nearly got a dream move to Leeds (Vince was a Leeds fan before joining the Clarets) but it fell through at the last minute and he went to Stoke.
For the second time he was signed by one of his former managers. Bond had taken him to Birmingham and one of his bosses at St. Andrews, Lou Macari, signed him for Stoke.
He was a popular captain as they won promotion but in 1996 Adrian Heath tempted him to return to the Turf. Sadly injury dictated that it didn’t work out and after a couple of loan moves he called it a day.
He is still a familiar and unmistakable figure at the Turf though and works with the club’s Community team. He remains passionate about the game and about Burnley whilst doing a great job with the kids.
League results in the last 20 years
Pickering Payton Little(2)
Click HERE for a complete list of past games against Stoke from our first meeting in 1888/89 season.
Last Time in the League
Stoke City 2 (Thorne 68 Davis 71og) Burnley 2 (Payton 76pen, 83) – Nationwide League Division 2, Saturday 29th January 2000
Getting to Stoke was to prove a nightmare after a major accident on the M6 and many Burnley fans didn’t even come close to making kick off. The motorway had been closed and Warrington had been grid locked. When I got inside the ground at around 2:57 after a nightmare four hour journey I soon found that I was one of the first in.
But as the Clarets took the game to Stoke it began to fill up as coach after coach finally made it. None of them missed any goals, in fact it did look as though it might end up goalless.
The last 22 minutes changed all that as the game swung one way and then another. Stoke struck on 69 minutes through Peter Thorne (he really is one in our side) and before we could regroup Steve Davis turned a cross into his own goal.
It looked over for the Clarets but John Mullin made sure he went down under a challenge to win a rather dubious looking penalty that needless to say Andy Payton tucked away with no problem.
Payts scored a lot of goals for the Clarets but not many better than his equaliser. He collected the ball outside the Stoke box and turned before knocking a shot into the bottom corner giving goalkeeper Gavin Ward no chance.
Even then it wasn’t over and Stoke won a penalty of their own. Thankfully they missed it and we won a well earned point along the way to promotion.
The teams were,
Stoke: Gavin Ward, Mikael Hansson, Clive Clarke, Nicky Mohan, Anders Jacobsen, Frode Kippa, Brynjar Gunnarsson, Graham Kavanagh, Kyle Lightbourne, Peter Thorne, James O’Connor. Subs not used: Carl Muggleton, Sigurstein Gislason, Paul Connor, Ben Petty, Kevin Keen.
Burnley: Paul Crichton, Dean West (Paul Smith 63), Gordon Armstrong, Steve Davis, Mitchell Thomas, Graham Branch (Glen Little 63), Lenny Johnrose (Peter Swan 74), John Mullin, Paul Cook, Andy Cooke, Andy Payton. Subs not used: Micky Mellon, Ronnie Jepson.
Referee: Mick Fletcher (Warley).