Manchester City v Burnley - The Championship, 2nd May 1960
Feature by Andy Robinson
Updated Sunday, 16th December 2001
In early May 1960 Burnley travelled to Maine Road to play Manchester City in their final game of the season knowing that a win would see them win the First Division Championship. This was how the Burnley Express reported it.
NOW, LEAGUE CHAMPIONS AWAIT TROPHY
Monday's deciding match was grim struggle
Manchester City 1 Burnley 2
There must have been many who did not see every moment of the game. Many could not gain admittance at all and "listened” to the progress of the match from outside. If they were from Burnley it was still a great occasion; a night of triumph which was watched by Mr. Stan Cullis manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers, who had been robbed of a championship hat trick and possible League and Cup "double" by that Meredith goal.
The club are awaiting word from, league headquarters, as to when they will be presented with the Championship Cup. It is thought that it may be handed over to Mr. R. W. Lord the club chairman at the annual meeting of the Football League.
Burnley had to fight every inch and every second. If City had been doomed to relegation and their very existence depended on them winning, the Light Blues could not have fought with more verve and energy. Burnley have been criticised in the past for appearing to take matches in too leisurely a manner. They could not be accused of any haphazard, easy‑going negligence in this match.
If they could not always dictate the, play, they disputed Manchester City's attempts to do so. Perhaps the nearest approach to the pattern of terrier tackling which comes to mind in a fixture at Turf Moor is the Tottenham encounter. Neither side gave any quarter. They stormed in for possession irrespective of size and weight and it was inevitable that someone would get hurt.
Strangely enough, each trainer made only a brief appearance. The players were too busy to note their bruises. No doubt they could count them afterwards though the Burnley boys were too happy to bother.
Most serious casualty was Pilkington, the Burnley outside-left who had been a constant worry to the City right flank. He is an expert at the acrobatic fall and he executed it with full dramatics on two occasions – to the baffled fury of the home crowd when the referee gave free kicks in acknowledgement of justice, pain and suffering.
However it was the final occasion, a few minutes before the end, when he was brought down and the injury was actual and serious and left him limping with a damaged ankle.
But this time there was neither reward nor respite for the tide of battle flowed over him as City started one of their hectic attacks which always held the threat of an equaliser.
A nervous start by both teams was not helped in ball control or accurate passing by the uneven and grassless surface of the pitch. Water had been applied during the morning but evidently not in sufficient quantities to subdue the bounce of the ball which went any way, according to the force and if not always, general direction of propulsion. City began to suffer more from the greatness of the occasion than did Burnley, if their irresponsible clearances were any criterion.
They had nothing to lose except match bonus and they played as if they wanted that and Burnley's as well if they could get it. They were fierce, but inaccurate with much of their work, while Burnley attempted to use the ball with some purpose.
City hit back with a tremendous attack as if scarcely believing that they could suffer such an insult at such a time. They hammered the ball down the middle and down the wings, but Burnley were watchful as well as jubilant, and were not inclined to be caught by the sudden change of direction of the individual dart through.
Their defence was far more compact than that of City, whose wide‑open spaces must have looked particularly tempting to Pointer if only he could have received a ground pass to prove it.
However the ball was in the air a great deal and either “heads up” or “feet up” tried to control its spirited destiny. The goalkeepers had the best time to shine and Trautmann revealed his old skill with two lightning interceptions from centres with Burnley dangerously close to conversions.
A free‑kick midway between the half and 18 yard lines brought a City equaliser. Law (who looked in an offside position) missed connecting properly with the “chip" over the defence and the ball bounced to HAYES, who gave Blacklaw no chance.
Both Burnley wingmen were finding progress far from easy against the hard tackling and once Pilkington was brought down by a trio of light blue battlers.
Mcllroy, with strapping on his right thigh, veered and dodged and did his best to calm the hectic pace to one which could be moulded into some semblance of ordered skill, but what with the determined opposition of City he could find the skill if not the speed, but some of his evasive action was breathtaking and magnificent.
Trautmann made a blinding tip over the bar from Robson, who was destined to be robbed of a goal in the second half when the 'keeper diverted an over‑head kick, which looked a scorer all the way.
It was during the second period of the game that Burnley really came on top. City still fought but the dominance of the Burnley half back line told its own tale, despite some dazzling footwork from Law, the fair‑haired Scottish genius with a remarkable change of pace.
City tried the long ball down the the middle from Ewing and the, wing‑halves, but Cummings who played a great game in conjunction with Adamson, either met the challenge with head or foot clearances or pushed it back to Blacklaw amid certain criticisms from the City crowd, of course. This was the period of the Manchester roar, the indistinguishable, long drawn‑out chant which had City trying the storming breakthrough ‑ the race and chase moves in which the Burnley defence just won with inches to spare.
City were dangerous, too, with the push to the wing and diagonal pass or the square ball which sped towards hurtling heads and bodies in the Burnley goal area. Then it was that Blacklaw rose to the occasion with some darting snatches just as the crowd were breaking into the goal roar and it was Burnley's turn to cheer as the ball was sent back into the City half to give their defence something to be anxious about.
The crowd at the covered end began to chant "White ball! White ball! White ball!" over and over again, for it was extremely difficult to follow the flight at times under the peculiarity of the Maine Road lights. And the referee signalled a change‑amid a mighty cheer which pleased both friend and foe. But soon the tenseness returned. Burnley hung on to their precious lead, City fought for the equaliser, which would make a Wolverhampton Championship.
Time ticked on – 15 minutes to go: Burnley in danger from a Light Blues corner. Blacklaw turns another over the bar; McIlroy tries his own possession-keeping dodge near the corner flag.
Then 10 minutes to go – another City corner the attack broken and the siege relieved by Miller, Meredith and Pilkington. Then eight minutes left and Burnley foiled by Trautmann. A minute later, a City injury, play stopped and Trautmann takes the chance to confer with two defenders.
Six minutes - a scoring opportunity for Law following a free kick but he over runs the ball and Burnley breathe again. Five minutes - City still attacking and Blacklaw makes a brilliant intervention.
Three anxious minutes left - a Burnley corner, but City hit back again and once more Blacklaw saves the situation. At last the final whistle-and a vast cheer rolls around the packed ground. Claret and blue supporters, blue and white also ignore the police and converge on the players. Burnley receive the congratulations of the City who have given them such a tremendous tussle.
Who cares that the ball was out of play 84 times for throw ins; that Burnley had 11 free kicks to Manchester's 14? Burnley won the match, the cheers and what is more the Championship