Clarets 100 Great Moments – 1

Jimmy Adamson - Captain
We started in 100th place with an FA Cup win at Spurs in 1963 but in 99th place came a five goal spree for Jimmy Robson in an 8-0 win against Nottingham Forest. That game, that win, came on 21st November 1959 and as well as being number 99 is also very much part of number 1.

There have been fun moments, disappointing moments too. But the number 1 had to be a success, it had to be the club’s greatest success and so it is. The greatest moment of all takes us back 43 seasons to the last time the Clarets were crowned Champions of England as we took the Football League Championship in our very last match against Manchester City.

We had a good side but there was no real hint of what was to come. We had ended the previous season in 7th place and were 13 points behind Wolves who had just won the league for the second season in succession. That was 13 points in the days when there were just 2 points for a win.

We started the 1959/60 season with a win at Elland Road against Leeds and followed that up with a home win against Everton but it wasn’t all plain sailing and two of the next three were lost including a heavy 4-1 reverse at Chelsea.

The season was going reasonably well as Burnley was akin to recent times in Adelaide, we were having a drought with water rationed, but the rains finally came in late October as the Clarets beat Manchester City 4-3 at the Turf. This completed the first third of the fixtures and we found ourselves probably where most expected us to be, in sixth place.

League Table after 14 games

Team

Pts

a

1

Spurs

20

2

West Ham

19

3

Wolves

18

4

Blackburn

18

5

Preston

17

6

Burnley

17

7

Fulham

17

There was no doubt that we were in form at home and the next three Turf Moor games brought another 17 goals with 16 of them for the Clarets. Champions for the previous two seasons Wolves went down 4-1 and then Forest went down to that 8-0 hammering before we hit Bolton for four more. with no reply.

A 4-2 win at Arsenal the following week saw us climb to 3rd with local rivals Preston now in top place. Christmas brought about the usual strange reversal of results and having gone to Old Trafford and beaten Manchester United 2-1 on Boxing Day they came to the Turf two days later and beat us 4-1.

A 2-1 home win against Newcastle in early February lifted us to our highest place yet, just one place and three points behind Spurs who had returned to the top. Two thirds of the season had now gone and the town was really starting to dream.

League Table after 28 games

Team

Pts

a

1

Spurs

39

2

Burnley

36

3

Wolves

34

4

Sheff Wed

32

5

Preston

32

6

West Brom

31

7

Bolton

31

By now there was no sign of Blackburn in the top places but still 3 Lancashire clubs in the top seven with Burnley the highest placed of them. But in the very next game Bolton beat us at Burnden Park.

If that wasn’t a good result there was better to follow and the next three were won including home wins against leaders Spurs and rivals Blackburn, it really was a good time to be a Burnley fan.

There were setbacks, a surprise FA Cup defeat in the 6th round and a heavy 6-1 defeat at Wolves at a time when the Midlands club had climbed above us.

But with five games to go we were faced with four of them away from Turf Moor but by then, although 3rd, had the same points as the two teams above us and with games in hand on both.

However just one win from the next three (all of them away) we could have been expected to slip away, not on your life our position had been strengthened.

League Table before games on 30th April

Team

Pld

Pts

a

1

Wolves

41

52

2

Burnley

40

52

3

Spurs

41

51

No other side was in with a chance of winning the league but what was scheduled to be the last day of the season did not go too well for the Clarets. The significant results were:

Burnley 0 Fulham 0
Chelsea 1 Wolves 5
Spurs 4 Blackpool 1

and now we had

League Table after games on 30th April

Team

Pld

Pts

a

1

Wolves

42

54

2

Spurs

42

53

3

Burnley

41

53

It was between Burnley and Wolves now with the task simple, we had to win our last game of the season at Maine Road against Manchester City. It is widely believed that the Clarets had never hit top spot during the entire season but this is not true. We were top for 24 hours back in August after the home win against Everton (the advantage of playing home midweek games on a Tuesday when most others played on a Wednesday).

Harry Potts - Manager
And so it was we went to Maine Road on the Monday night when Manchester turned Claret & Blue. Anything but a win would see Wolves crowned Champions for the 3rd season in succession. Wolves went on to win the FA Cup the following Saturday with an easy 3-0 win against Blackburn.

Thousands and thousands of Burnley fans were there, some able to see what was going on, others with hardly a view and many more outside only able to listen to what was going on. Many, many more waited at home for news and it came early and it was good news as winger Brian Pilkington gave us the lead with just four minutes on the clock.

It wasn’t all plain sailing though and Hayes scored for City but just after 8 o’clock came the moment that finally won us the League Championship, the Clarets’ second and winning goal. Right winger John Connelly was in hospital having had a cartilage operation and it was his replacement Trevor Meredith who stole the headlines by hitting home from close range.

Meredith only played 37 league games for the Clarets and eventually moved on to Shrewsbury Town but this goal, one of 8 he hit for us, will ensure his name will be remembered forever at Turf Moor.

It was a tense last hour but eventually the final whistle blew to set off unbelievable celebrations both in Manchester and Burnley. In days when communication was not good news soon reached home that the Champions were on their way back. It was late at night but the streets were full and the route home lined all the way from Rawtenstall as the players arrived home.

For more on the Manchester City game see the Burnley Express Report

Final League Table

Team

Pld

Pts

a

1

Burnley

42

55

2

Wolves

42

54

3

Spurs

42

53

For those of us unable to get to the game this was something that will always be remembered as the team arrived back with Burnley Football Club for the second time in its history crowned Champions. Without doubt the Greatest of all Moments.

Those who took part during the season, the last players to bring the Leage Championship to Turf Moor were: Adam Blacklaw, John Angus, Tommy Cummings, Bobby Seith, Brian Miller, Jimmy Adamson, John Connelly, Jimmy McIlroy, Ray Pointer, Jimmy Robson, Brian Pilkington, Alex Elder, Billy White, Gordon Harris, Ian Lawson, Billy Marshall, Trevor Meredith, Jim Furnell.

Brian Pilkington gives us an early lead at Maine Road


The Championship winning goal from Trevor Meredith