Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Thursday, 26th July 2012
Date and Place of Birth
13th January 1951 - Bolton
Transfers to and from Burnley
from Bolton Wanderers - March 1971 (£60,000)
to Blackpool - February 1980 (£30,000)
First and Last Burnley Games
Southampton (h) - 6th March 1971
Cambridge United (h) - 24th November 1979
replaced by Phil Cavener
Burnley Career Stats
|Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Others||Total|
Profile by Tony Scholes
Burnley were next to bottom of the First Division in March 1971 and looked to be heading for relegation with Blackpool. The problem was obvious to everyone, we just couldn't score goals, and we'd netted just 22 times in 30 games.
We were strongly linked in the press with Sheffield United's John Tudor who, alongside his strike partner Billy Dearden, was helping the Blades to promotion. I was living in Sheffield at that time and I was able to fuel the rumours when I saw Jimmy Adamson, Joe Brown, Brian Miller and Dave Blakey all turn up for a midweek game at Bramall Lane.
Without mobile phones and texts, the news had to wait until the weekend but a move for Tudor looked a certainty after he played well in a 2-2 draw against Bolton.
How wrong the press were, how wrong I was, the player Burnley were watching was Bolton's quiet and reserved 20-year-old striker Paul Fletcher who eventually became Burnley's record signing at £60,000 in March 1971.
He couldn't find the goals to keep us up, I don't think anyone could, but he was part of Adamson's team building that would see us return to the First Division two years later and come so close to honours in the top flight.
The young Fletcher arrived at Burnley with former Bolton forward Nat Lofthouse saying he was a really fine centre forward and a star of the future. He'd made just 36 league appearances for Wanderers, the first of which came when he was given his debut by Jimmy McIlroy when the former Burnley great had a short spell there as manager.
Bolton couldn't afford to turn down that sort of fee and so Fletcher was on his way to Turf Moor where he was to stay for just a few months short of nine years.
He proved to be the perfect foil for Frank Casper and once he'd settled into the team they formed an excellent partnership. Frank was the player with the silky skills but Fletcher was just as important. He was a great hold up player, had pace, worked his socks off and was one of the best players in the air I've ever seen at Burnley. So good was he in the air, he seemed to have the ability to hover, that he was nicknamed Kestrel by many Burnley fans.
He created goals and scored them too. He was in outstanding form during the promotion season of 1972/73, getting a hat trick in the 3-0 win against Cardiff at Turf Moor. In April 1973 he scored both goals in the 2-0 win over Sunderland that clinched our promotion back to the top flight and until May 2009 he was the last player to score the goals that won us such a promotion.
Despite losing his partner Casper for spells during the 1973/74 season he proved himself to be an excellent forward in the First Division, so much so that he won call ups for the England Under 23s.
Paul himself will say the loss of Casper was a massive blow for Burnley, and indeed it was. He will also readily admit he wasn't quite the same player without Casper as he had been alongside him. I'm not sure I altogether agree with that.
The highlight of his 1973/74 season was surely the overhead kick at Leeds in the sensational 4-1 win. A photograph of it has been very carefully and strategically placed just by the entrance to the directors' box at Turf Moor.
His form continued into the following 1974/75 season and many judges believed he was close to a full England cap. Paul jokes today that Adamson once said only two things prevented him playing for England - skill and ability. Adamson knew how close his striker was and there were strong suggestions he also had to fight off Liverpool boss Bob Paisley who wanted to take him to Anfield.
A serious injury towards the end of that season ruled him out for over eight months. By the time he got back to full fitness the Clarets were heading back down. He continued to play in a side that never threatened to get back to the top flight again and his best season, in terms of goals, was the 1978/79 season.
In March 1979, on a frost bound Racecourse, he scored the only goal in a win at Wrexham. Although he remained with Burnley for the rest of 1979 it was his last goal in the Claret and Blue.
His last game for us came in November that year as we ended the club's longest ever run without a win. We beat Cambridge 5-3 that day but with Billy Hamilton signing that week it signalled the end for Fletcher who signed for Stan Ternent at Blackpool where he played alongside other former Clarets Peter Noble and Terry Pashley.
Fletcher soon recovered his goalscoring form, so much so that Blackpool were ready to cash in by selling him. However, to help them out he played one last game against Walsall in September 1980. A collision with the Saddlers keeper left him with a broken leg and badly damaged knee ligaments.
At the age of 29 his player career was over although he remained with Blackpool until the end of his contract in 1982.
If anyone thought that was to be the end of his football career they were badly mistaken. He was a regular after dinner speaker at football dinners across the country, something he still does to this day but he was out of the game on a regular basis for a while. That was until he became the commercial manager of Colne Dynamoes. Had Graham White been successful in taking over Burnley, Fletcher might well have returned to Turf Moor.
Instead he moved to Huddersfield where he masterminded the building of the new stadium. So successful was he that he then moved to Bolton to carry out the same role with the building of the Reebok.
That saw him head hunted for Wembley but he left that project and eventually led the project to build the Ricoh Arena at Coventry. On completion he left the company to join Coventry City as Managing Director but left when he was kept in the dark over take over talks.
At that time Burnley had released plans for the redevelopment of Turf Moor and just before Christmas 2007 he made a return to Burnley FC as Development Director. With the project delayed he became the club's Chief Executive and remains in that position to this day although he is at the time of writing very much involved in the redevelopment again.
If he does half as well as our chief exec as he did as our centre forward then he'll do a good job for us. Back in 1971 he proved to be one of a number of superb Adamson signings that set up one of the best Burnley teams since we were league champions.
Who knows what we might have achieved had he and Casper not become long term injury victims. Both had the skill and ability to play for England and might well have done but for those injuries.