The Orient Game - Your Views

Ian Shutt

I was only 8 at the time and all I remember is that we didn't go to the game but listened on a radio at home in Otley. When the results game through my dad lifted me so high I banged my head on the ceiling.

 

Erik Andreassen

The Orient Game? I can still remember it well, even though I was not at The Turf. In fact, I was at my home in Norway! The whole day was nervous, it was probably the worst day as a BFC supporter. And I have been just that for 50 years now. I was doing some repairing on the roof of my house earlier in the day, then I listened to the radio. The last five minutes I couldn't even listen, turning the radio off. It was impossible, Burnley going out of the League. What would happen if the worst happened? Luckily we didn't find out. Then I turned the radio on again, hearing that we had made it. I was so relieved, we had survived.

Once a Burnley fan, always a Burnley fan. This is my club, and with a friend (a Wolves-fan), we visit England every year. That is great, as are Burnley FC.

 

Lee Cross

A Game That I Could Not Go To

Ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper I played football and there was only one club I could/would follow, that being Burnley Football Club. My father was an avid fan who in the sixties and seventies followed them the full length and breadth of the country home and away.

Anyway unlike most kids in Accrington who either supported Liverpool, Man U or Leeds and then changed team the following season, I kept loyal to the Claret and Blue and would even argue with my Headmaster.

Well on that infamous day both my father and myself couldn't eat or sleep it was like waiting to be called for the firing squad. We were both on edge and my mother had to leave the house due to our passing up and down and arguing. The reason why we could not go was that we wanted to remember the good days
and not to have this. It just did not feel right and how could a club that 27years earlier been champions be in that position of going out of the football league?

Those 90 minutes were the most tense I had been in all my 15 years and at that time I played for the Junior Clarets and saw how inside the club how bad things were.

At the end of the game both my father and I just looked at one another, hugged and then cried. Tears of joy but also tears of sadness flowed, a club like Burnley should never of been in that situation in the first place.

When you look back since that day and what has been achieved it makes you think what would have happened if we had lost?

LOVE US, HATE US, BUT YOU CANNOT IGNORE US, BFC THE RELIGION

 

John Griffiths

I didn't get to the Orient game as I was living in Germany serving in the RAF. I spent the afternoon watching Borussia Moenchengladbach at the Bokelberg Stadium.

After the game I caught the last few minutes from the Turf on Radio 2 whilst travelling back to our flat. When the final whistle went my mate an Oxford United fan said quietly "you've done it " I couldn't answer him as I'd choked up and just got out of his car.

The rest of the evening was spent drinking lots of excellent German beer whilst going through the different emotions of elation that we had survived to anger that Burnley Football Club had come so close to dropping out of the Football League.

 

Peter Bateman

I moved house recently, which involved sorting through my large collection of programmes. I held the Orient programme in my hand for the first time in several years and came out in a cold sweat just thinking about the day.

A number of vivid impressions remain. Firstly the contrast with the funereal atmosphere at the previous Saturday's game against Southend, then the bloke selling John Bond is a bastard teeshirts outside the ground. My view of the game was frequently obstructed by a lad wearing one of these, climbing one of the Long Side stanchions to get a better view.

Then there was the news coming through that Torquay were losing and the chant started up to let the players know. Leighton James came over to the Long Side before taking a throw in to ask someone about it. Then the goals and the relief followed by the half hour of torture after Alan Comfort's goal. Right at the end I vividly remember the sun coming and bathing the moors in golden light almost as a sign from higher places that we were going to hang on.

You knew immediately that the players were up for it. In the first minute Orient won a corner at the Bee Hole End and Terry Howard's header was going into the top corner until of all people Peter Leebrook climbed to head it off the line. I'm sure that sheer desperation gave him an extra foot of spring that day. Comfort had him beaten for pace as well but he stuck to his task with grim determination. As did the others.

On the way home to Birmingham we were stuck for almost an hour in a tailback near the M6/M62 intersection. Several supporters of other teams came and knocked on the car window and asked how Burnley had done and told us that they had wanted Clarets to stay in the league.

I went up with a Man Utd fan and he was as emotionally drained as I was! A memorable day but please never again!

 

Chris Watson (Texas)

Dandelions - I was on the pitch and they had allowed dandelion plants to grow - to think of my heroes, Willie Morgan et al and only 20 years later we couldn't afford weed killer!

My friend had a friend who saw us wandering on the pitch from the Directors' box and suddenly we were behind the scenes in the bar watching a very, very relieved Brian Miller. A surreal day and now it just seems like a bad dream.

 

David Taylor

The 'Orient Game' will always stick in my memory. I wasn't at the match - I was in the middle of a rainforest on the Usambara mountains in Tanzania. I'd been in Tanzania for around two months at that time, working as an environmental consultant. Communication in Tanzania in the 1980s was a major problem. As a result, I hadn't spoken with anyone from 'home' throughout my time in the country - there was no email, of course, and no Clarets Mad to keep me informed of how t'Clarets were doing.

On the Saturday in question I'd managed to borrow a short wave radio, as I thought that it was FA Cup final day (the FA Cup still meant something in the 1980s, I guess) and wanted to listen to commentary of the final on BBC World Service. I tuned the radio to BBC World Service, expecting to listen to the cup final only to hear the announcer stating that 'We now return to Turf Moor, and to what could be Burnley's last ever match in the Football League' (I'd also got the time difference wrong - and missed the first
half). Throughout the commentary of the second half I could hear someone in the background shouting 'come onnnnnnnnnnn Burnleeeeee'.

The rest is history, of course. Amani, Tanzania, now has a loyal following of Clarets supporters (though the batteries for the short wave radio will have long since run out) and the following weekend's FA Cup final (Spurs v Coventry?) was no where near as memorable - or as significant.

 

John Lightfoot

My recollections of the Orient game start with the Southend United home game, the penultimate home game of the season. Given the press coverage leading up to the end of the season, with so much speculation surrounding Burnley going out of the league I attended the game camera in hand to take a few photographs of Turf Moor. In my darkest moments I couldn't see Burnley surviving relegation, let alone the mighty Turf. The thought of an Asda supermarket enjoying the hallowed Brunshaw Road address was almost too much to bear.

I also recall a lot of press coverage, the gist of which was how could this happen, how could the Football League allow a founding member to fall out of its clutches. Speculation as to whether the Football League would allow it to happen should the unthinkable happen and we finish bottom. The Football League saying rules are rules and no exception would be made if Burnley finished bottom.

Then it was off to Crewe, on a bank holiday Monday I seem to recall. On the journey from my home in Warrington I had a row with my wife, kind enough to support me in my hour of need (she's a Liverpool supporter). She was saying if I was married to a Burnley player I would be making sure that he had
another job lined up. My god, perhaps she wasn't as supportive as I thought. The game a dire affair. Thousands of Clarets, so many a section of closed terracing had to be opened.

And so onto Saturday 9 May 1987, Burnley versus Orient, kick-off 3.00 pm. All kick off's timed to coincide so no perceived advantage would be gained by any team. But wait, one of the threatened throng had survived. Tranmere played on the Friday night. One of Death Rows inhabitants had escaped.

I was privileged to have watched Burnley in every division. I had experienced many highs and lows as a supporter, promotion, relegation, Cup semi final defeat to Newcastle, Cup 3rd round defeat to Wimbledon. But nothing, but nothing compared to this.

I got onto the Turf early 1.00, 1.30ish. Onto the hallowed Longside where I would shout myself hoarse whatever the result. It was going to be a big crowd, that was certain but how big? News came through that kick off would be delayed. The match, I don't remember too much to be honest. The joy at the goals, the singing, the movement of the crowd. The nerves when Orient scored. The misses by Orient. Then the final whistle, we'd done it. Onto the pitch, the conga, the realisation that we would remain a Football
League club.

I raced back to the car to get the post match analysis on Radio 2's SportsReport only to catch the end of the report on the Burnley game and discover that Burnley of the fourth division had been the commentary match. It was then home to see the images on the evening news, the famous bespectacled lady crying uncontrollably. Who was she? Fleet Street benefited by me purchasing every Sunday paper to relive the joy and drive the wife mad. I was then able to reflect that I had been to 'THE ORIENT GAME', I had the sticker, which must have baffled every none Burnley supporter who saw it.

I had witnessed a defining moment in Burnley's history.

 

Gareth Slater

I was 13 years old, and May 9th was my cousin's wedding day held in Cliviger just outside Burnley. The service started at 2pm and was followed by a reception at the Alexander Hotel in Burnley (10 mins from the Turf). After the photos had been taken my Dad and I sneaked off and missed the wedding breakfast.

We got to Turf Moor 20 mins into the game, we would have missed more had the kick off not been delayed. We stood on the Bee Hole end. My Dad and I lived in Reading at the time so going to matches always involved a great deal of travelling and expense. During 1986/87 season I attended more matches than I have in any other season, ironically it was our worst ever season, but I feel proud of the fact that I was there and present during those dark days. Obviously after seeing the season unfold we were not going to miss this game for anything. I cried three times that afternoon and am not ashamed to admit it. Firstly Grewcock's goal, secondly Britton's goal and lastly at the final whistle, when me and Dad invaded the pitch in our suits with carnations and everything!! (brings a lump to my throat now just remembering that day).

We walked back into the wedding reception with our scarves aloft feeling very proud just in time to have
some Champagne, we were not at all popular but fortunately our family knew how important this game was to us. That evening my legs ached as though I had run 10 miles and I can only assume it was because I had finally relaxed after having been so tense and nervous for days building up to that match.

I will never forget that day!!! Long live Burnley Football Club!!!!

 

Steve Trippier

This game changed me, and the way I looked at my football club...changed me forever. It had been a poor season, struggling near the foot of the table, a poor team, not much football played and obviously some very bad results. I took a decision that I almost came to regret, and one that I vowed I would >never make again, no matter what the circumstances. Part way through that season I stopped going to watch my football team, the team I had supported for years, I stayed at home on a Saturday. I feel like I deserted them at a time when my support REALLY mattered.

I remember the build up to the game, Burnley football club was in the national news for the first time I could really remember.........but it was for all the wrong reasons. Burnley football club, MY team, was in grave danger of dropping out of the football league. The first time there was automatic relegation from the league and it could quite easily have been Burnley. The full enormity of what may have happened didn't actually hit me straight away, to be honest it probably didn't hit me for a few months.........I didn't actually realise that it could mean the end for Burnley; we were in such a state at the time, both on and off the field.

I don't remember much about the Saturday morning or early afternoon. I remember that I was sitting in the Cricket Field Stand with a friend who was along for the ride. I do remember feeling very very nervous and also very very guilty. The media circus had been accused of turning up to see the demise of a once famous club and I felt the same...very guilty that it had all come down to this one game and I had not been there for the majority of the second half of the season. I felt, as though I shouldn't be there, I didn't deserve to be there, whatever the outcome.

We went into that last game bottom of the pile and there were 3 teams that could possibly end up in the conference at the end of the day. As I remember it all the talk was between Torquay, and us with little mention of Lincoln.

I remember the situation wasn't in our hands. All we could do was win and hope that one of the other results went our way. I remember sitting in my seat...wringing my hands...praying that this should not be allowed to happen and vowing to whoever was listening that I would never forsake my team again, NEVER, no matter what the position in the league, no matter the style of football we played..........nothing in the future would stop me from supporting my team.

I remember I had a thumping headache for the whole of the game, probably because of the tension. I remember we kicked of late to allow all the fans in, at the time I thought this was great, we would know what we had to do because we would have the other scores.

The game itself was pretty much a blur, I remember Grewcock's goal vividly, thinking it was one of the best I had seen at the Turf. Maybe my judgement was clouded because of the importance of it, but I still have the video and it still looks a good goal. I remember Britton's goal and the relief it brought...at this time we were aware of the other scores, and these coupled with our result meant we were safe! (But there was still a little way to go yet). But then it happened, the unthinkable..........with more than 30 minutes to play THEY scored...and it was typical Burnley from then on...backs to the wall manic defending, holding and hoping that we could keep this slender lead.

The 15 minutes delay allowed us to find out the results of the other games and we knew that if we won, we were safe. The 15 minutes delay that I felt was a bit of a godsend at the start of the game quickly became the longest 15 minutes I can remember, they seemed to drag for hours. Frantic checking of the watch, wringing of the hands, yelling at the ref. but the time didn't't pass any quicker!! Eventually he blow his whistle, and the ground erupted, fans spilled onto the pitch and the players legged it for the tunnel!

I remember I was shedding the odd tear, probably a mixture of relief, tension, and the realisation that I had just witnessed a major moment in the history my football club. Everyone was hugging complete strangers, there were people who were totally overcome, heads in hands BUT it was over, we
were safe.

As it turned out it was Lincoln that was relegated with Torquay surviving with us...not that I cared who it was that went down, as long as it wasn't Burnley! The vow I mad at the start of that game I have kept, and whilst there have been some bad times; I think that the good has outweighed the bad. What we have been treated to since Stan took the helm has made those dark days of the '86/'87 season seem an eternity away. an eternity that I will always remember, an eternity that all Clarets fans will NEVER forget.

 

Joseph Galvin

Having been going on the Turf since 1970, I had seen some good times and unfortunately too many poor times. I was a season ticket holder the season of the Orient game and had travelled to numerous away games as well. What got to me in the weeks before the game was the chants of "your not fit to wear the shirt"; it was cruel but true. However given our terrible financial plight it was inevitable that the players were not fit to wear the shirt graced by so many Claret legends, and also rans.

The night before the game Tranmere won and that made the tension worse, as if they had of lost our plight would have been in our hands.

The day of the game the pubs were rocking, the town had come not to mourn but to reinvigorate a very sick patient. The thought that went through my mind as we went on our normal pub crawl to the Turf was ok you are here today but where were you versus Hereford etc? However that could be debated later we just needed the lift. As you got nearer the Turf the atmosphere increased in it's intensity. I had a go at a guy for buying 10 programmes, mercenary swine trying to make money from the plight of the club I love.

As you got near the turnstiles, the atmosphere just silenced as the horrendous prospect of what could have happened to our beloved Clarets sank in. Even the fans who had not been on for years.

Into the Longside and the wall of noise. 90 minutes of passionate desperate singing. The goals for the goals against all met with a wall of noise. The delayed kick off, a master stroke or genuine who cared.

The very, VERY real menace towards the Orient players in the last few minutes as the fans surrounded the pitch. Police officers checking their watches Clarets fans in uniform imploring the other man in black to blow his whistle to save their beloved Clarets as well. The results from other games coming in; the roaring, the adrenaline pumping, the beating hearts. Then the final whistle. The relief, the hugging,singing, crying, laughing,euphoria the joy. That night Burnley breathed a sigh of relief.

Teams might win the Premier,European cups,FA Cups...but will they remember the emotion of the day with such clarity 25 years hence, and still get a shiver down their spine and a lump in their throat 25 years on? I doubt it.

That day , all those Clarets played as though they were fit to wear the shirt.

 

Tony Scholes

My memories of the day really start the week before after the win against Southend. I am just a typical football fan, up when we win and down when we lose and things were looking more than hopeful after this win.

For my sins I was secretary of Burnley Football Supporters' Club at the time and just after that game I was invited to do an interview on Radio Lancashire on the Tuesday morning. Of course I would, we were going to be OK now. By the time the interview came around, after the May Day Bank Holiday fixtures things had got as bad as they could be. Everyone had won as we lost at Crewe and we were staring at a future in the Conference or worse still no future at all.

I had promised so I didn't let the local radio station down but to this day I have never heard the interview when even four days before the Orient game I was already a nervous wreck. It seemed as if the Saturday would never come but when it did I tried to keep to my normal schedule for a home game.

I went for a pint before the game, have you ever known a packed pub completely silent? But then it was time to do the things I did for every game, things you take for granted such as going through the turnstiles. I kept wondering to myself whether I was doing these things for the last time.

I'll skip the game – we won 2-1 – and with results going for us elsewhere what was the worst day of my life as a Claret was just becoming the best. An hour after the final whistle I was still on the pitch with a pint brought across from the Park View. I really don't remember too much after that but one thing I will always remember is that day, 9th May 1987. I'm not going there again and we should all make damn sure Burnley Football Club doesn't either.

 

Andy Woodward

My memories stem from the night before the Orient game. I had decided that emotionally I simply could not face doing a 500 mile round trip from Somerset if the situation was that we could win and still go down and out of existence. Tranmere were playing on the Friday night and if they won Burnley would indeed be in that situation.

This was of course in the days before Ceefax and the Web and I rang Tranmere at 9.30pm to be greeted by an ecstatic Scouser who could not understand why I was so down on hearing the news. When I explained he acted like he was talking to the recently bereaved and wished me and Burnley all the very best as it would be a crying shame if they went down. BUT that was it, I would not now be at Turf Moor on that fateful day. Yes in effect I had given up hope. I had been convinced since seeing us lose at Cardiff two weeks earlier that we were doomed anyway. The town had given up on the club, less than 4000 in the penultimate home game against Scunthorpe so why should I bother.

I got up late the next day too late to change my mind anyway. I turned on the telly and realised that I had made one of the biggest mistakes of my life. We were featured on the National news and Football focus and on ITV. Of course the town had not forgotten my club but the rest of the nation had come to bury us and I just slumped in my chair and cried. What a fool I had been.

I can still feel the tension of every minute of the rest of the afternoon. I had several radios on with Lincoln's game in Swansea and Torquay's game in Devon and we were to be the 2nd half commentary featured match on Radio 2. Can you imagine a 4th (3rd now) Division game being the commentary game on Radio 5 today. Again the enormity of the event I was missing hit me but events began to unfold in our favour with Lincoln and Torquay all losing and Neil Grewcock's goal but I remained impassive as we really did have a crap team in that year.

Then Ian Britton's goal was announced and to say that I was cock a hoop was an understatement but of course before you knew it Orient were back in it when Comfort pulled a goal back. Lincoln were still losing as were Torquay so it was still in our hands. It is of course a cliché to say that the commentary was agonising as The Londoners threw the proverbial kitchen sink at us but the rest as they say is history. We hung on and we were safe. Lincoln were the first Football League club to be automatically relegated out of the league not Burnley one of the founder members of the league not Burnley one of the most famous clubs in the land fallen on hard times not my club.

Of course I sat down and cried again. This time with relief and to be honest shame that I had not been there. The town had of course rallied round how could I have been so stupid. 15696 was the official attendance. I dont think so. I cried several times that Saturday night. Each time the news came on both channels and the end of match scenes were repeated. The bit with the ginger haired woman tears streaming down her face still gets me when I watch the video I purchased as soon as it came out and have watched many times since probably by way of penance for my crime of staying away when my club needed me.

I did to some extent purge myself the year after. We were in the Sherpa Van Trophy Northern Final 2nd leg after drawing the home leg 0-0. It was massively inconvenient for me to get there for the midweek game and a friend who was coming with me pulled out at the last minute but I was not going to miss out again. I made the right decision this time and sitting down in our end at Deepdale after the initial jubilation had down just a tad my mate Brenno looked over to me and said "This is pay back time. Pay back for all that Shit we have had to endure over the last 15 years and now Burnley my Burnley are at Wembley".

That remains my best moment of being a Burnley fan. Not the final itself although it was of course brilliant not the Stockport game, even better or Scunthorpe but Deepdale 12 months after the most important game of our history. The Orient game and I wasn't there but this time I was.

 

Paul Williams

My memories of the game was sitting in the Cricket Field stand with my guts churning. We were singing from long before kick off to long after the final whistle. I was with my dad, brother and my girlfriend who is now my wife. I will never forget Neil Grewcock scoring he was my fav player. I was not too keen on Ian Britton but he changed my mind that day. At the final whistle it was onto the pitch for mass celebrations.

 

Dassey

I had recently joined Greater Manchester police as a uniformed constable and as such was down the pecking order when it came to booking leave. My shift pattern meant I had to work a 10/6 in the city centre Arndale. Because of the grotesque tiles and concrete I couldn't hear my walkman. At 5.45 pm i was standing outside GRANADA t.v. rentals on Halle Mall waiting for the teleprinter to answer my prayers. When the result flashed up I took off my helmet, which we wore in those days and danced a merry jig outside the shop much to the amusement of my uniformed colleague.

That's what following BFC does to you. I currently work in STRETFORD and cover Moneychester Utd games if they fall on my days off, the money pays for my Burnley season ticket. So on days when Burnley are at home and so are Utd, I can be found stood on the stairwell of one of the stands ignoring the drubbing of some unfortunate team at the feet of a great footballing outfit,whilst tuning in on my walkman to any station that can give me updates on the action at the Turf. KEEP THE FAITH.

 

Harry Marsland

I was a season-ticket holder from '73 - 81, but by '87 was living in Surrey & hadn't been to the Turf for over 3 years. (I can proudly say I never saw Bond). But, of course, I simply had to go to the Orient Game. Was it to try to cheer the lads on? Or was it one last trip? I didn't know then, & I can't really say now. So, I made a 500-mile round-trip. My girlfriend thought I was daft ( she's my wife now, & still does).

The Brunshaw Road was a strange throng; wake or re-awakening? I bumped into old friends under the shadow of the Martin Dobson Stand. Was that edifice to blame?

I took my familiar place on the Longside, and listened to some reassuringly familiar names being read out.....Billy Rodaway (always a rock, and in the highest league too. A man to have alongside in the trenches, as the cliches would say). Leighton James (what on Earth has it come to; our mercurial talent from the early 70's playing in a match like this) Grewcock & Britton...hadn't they played at a higher level too?

I don't remember too much about the match, but neither do I remember too much about my first trip to the dentist. But I do remember the goals....I was in a direct line behind Grewcock as he drilled his shot in. That was, is & always will be the finest goal I have ever seen.

The last half hour, after Orient scored (my memory has kindly erased that image completely) was, of course, agony. In the heady days of the 70's (I missed the 60's) I never, ever suspected I would one day say that about Leighton James' bravest performance in the Claret & Blue. Football is too often and too easily likened to war-scenes, but if ever there was a sense of the Alamo, this was it. The Burnley goal was defended as if life itself depended upon it....and, of course, a life DID depend upon it. The life of a much-loved Football Club.

Oh how the Hell did we ever let it come to this? Never was the impotence of the crowd more painful. You can shout, you can sing. You can urge yet greater effort from players who are clearly giving their aged all. But one false move and we're all dead. Burnley Football Club, this venerable & far-flung family, now poignantly re-assembled : dead.

OK, so Orient were playing for promotion. So they flung everything at us. And in the seasons since the Orient Game, we have, sometimes, come to regard promotion as paramount. But my God, it is not. It comes an exceedingly great distance behind survival.

 

Ian Halstead

I was working for the evening paper in Hull, chugging back and forth along the M62 every weekend to watch the Clarets.

Unfortunately, the Orient game clashed with the maiden voyage of the biggest vessel ever commissioned by North Sea Ferries, and part of my role was to cover shipping-related matters. I was also an official of our union, the NUJ, and a series of ill-tempered industrial disputes in the mid and late-1980s meant the editor and I were not quite the best of friends. Predictably, my desperate pleas to instead cover the ferry's second voyage were rejected.

From 6pm Friday, I was between Hull and Rotterdam, on a ship without payphones and whose satellite communications' system didn't work. On Saturday, I found a crew member who had heard the results, but being a Scot, claimed to recall only the Old Firm results. I feared the worst, got appropriately slaughtered, and only discovered when we docked at 8am on Sunday that we had survived.

 

Anon

As I live in Jersey I was in 2 minds wether to travel or not, I decided not to as I couldn't bare to see my beloved team disappear. So I had to endure listening on the radio (Jimmy Armfield) it was the longest 1 :45 hr I have had to bare.

I was with the wife & had decided to go down the beach ,well when the final whistle blew I just jumped up & ran into the sea shouting & screaming ,it was bloody freezing but I did not care one bit we had survived, crowds gathered around to see what all the commotion was about, my wife said "don't worry he's a Burnley fan". That about summed it up.

 

Adam Smith

I've got the programme from the Orient game framed up on my kitchen wall to remind me of that fateful day (and also how crappy our programme covers were back then...)

Some snippets of memory... Getting so crushed up against the barriers on the Longside that I couldn't breathe (to this day I believe that the official published attendance for that day is a complete fabrication to keep BFC out of trouble for letting too many people in )... Grewcock's goal going in, seemed like the greatest goal I'd ever seen. Maybe it still is... that informational chant all afternoon "Torquay are losing" (ironic that poor Lincoln were the ones that went down)... the sheer tension towards the end, not being able to bear looking, turning my back on the pitch, an old guy standing next to me shouting loudly about how he was on the verge of a heart attack)... the relief, the excitement of clambering over the spiky fences onto the hallowed Turf... picking up a clod of the pitch and faithfully planting it in the garden when I got home... a guy just standing there in the middle of the crowd having a piss on the Turf... doing the world's biggest ever conga down in front of the Cricket Field stand... promising to support them "ever more" and meaning it.

 

Steve Kelly

As a 15 year old it was my first ever game at the Turf, with a lot of nagging to get my dad (an Evertonian) to take me.

I remember being literally the last person to get into the Bob Lord Stand and then having to sit on the steps. I also remember not leaping into the air as passionately as others since it was my first game and was probably a bit more restrained, which I've always regretted! I do remember the heart stopping when Orient hit the woodwork.

Ever since then I was hooked and have missed few home games and am a regular attender at away games, even after moving to Sheffield. I've even converted my other half to be a season ticket holder despite never having set foot in Lancashire in her life beforehand!

 

Jonny Lupton

I'm 31, and my first season watching the Clarets was the infamous 'Orient' season. I'm only writing because, even though I can't remember a lot about the game (as I was only 5!) my birthday is the 9th May and I know that the Clarets staying up on that day was the best birthday present anyone could ever get!

 

Lorne Hayhurst

THROUGH THE MISTS OF TIME
Overnight nervous drive alone from Essex to Fleetwood...
Early morning Radio Lancs saying 10,000 crowd expected and to get there early...
Flying the scarf out of car window on M55 from Blackpool, butterflies in stomach...

Parking in my 'lucky street' of Haven Street near Turf Moor...
Getting on early and taking in and storing in my mind the view from entrance at back of Beehole/Longside...
Seeing some of the objects people had with them and thinking the ground might be taken apart if things didn't go well...
Being in the swaying seething mass of bodies that was the Longside as the kick-off was put back...
The sheer wall of noise and raw emotion that poured from the Longside as the Clarets came out and which continued until the end...
Turning cold as Orient effort was headed off the line...
Having a perfect line on Grewcock's shot arrowing inside the post...
Going totally mental with my mate Dave Burnley as ball hit the net, and the uncontrollable surge of bodies that followed, ending up well away from where I had been...
All sorts of rumours of scores from other vital games...
Wild celebrations at second goal...
The numbness of Orient's goal...
People confirming that Lincoln had lost and starting to chant "Lincoln's lost"...
A moment of slow-motion action when it looked like a late leveller was about to happen, and in that instant thinking to myself "No, not now, not now"...
Impossible to sum up the emotion that swept over me as final whistle went...
Somehow getting down to the pitch, and my legs going weak as I went out onto the Turf. Got to the centre circle and sunk to ground, then tears started to flow. It hit me how much the club meant to me, that part of my life had been close to being ripped away, thinking about the many matches I had been to with my Dad from 65-78 and the happy days we had shared together following the Clarets, and looking up to the heavens and wishing he were still alive to share the moments with me...
Feeling totally and utterly drained physically and emotionally...
Orient fans applauding and Clarets cheering them back...
Walking around outside the ground almost like a zombie...

Aftermath:
Waking up the next morning with the realisation that the club still existed...
Trying to speak and finding I had no voice left, completely hoarse...
In the mid-90s, being told by a family member of a director at the time of the game just what the financial state of the club was in 87, and what the wrong results would have meant - oblivion...
Always having a bit of a soft spot for Orient since...
The continual pride that 'I was there'...
A boyhood dream came true on April 30 when I played at Turf Moor, in the Football Aid game, and as I first went out onto the pitch the Orient match came into my mind, for without that result Turf Moor might not even have existed now...

 

Anon

I lived in Bury at the time and used to travel up with 2 or 3 mates (started 1966). By the time of the Orient game, I was on my own and had been for most of the second half of that season. I remember driving down past The Bull & Butcher as it was known then, thinking that I may never drive that way again.

Before that day, my abiding memory of that season was driving back up the M6 from Crewe. I was convinced that that was it, our Football League life was over and my eyes filled up and I cried …….. I was 35 years old at the time!

I often play the video of the match and the eyes fill up again. I'm a sentimental old sod now, but God forbid what would it have been like if we'd lost?

I have often discussed my feelings with both supporters and non supporters. They think it is bad to lose in the play-offs or a cup final, but that is nothing, as it all starts again the next season. It is fairly clear to me that if we had lost, it wouldn't have started again in the Conference. The club would have died. It probably helped to prepare me for the disappointment of the other week. Course I was disappointed, but there was no comparison to the Orient Game and most of us were able to put it into perspective and realise not only what a good season we had had, but also how far we have come.

Although I have now moved to Helmshore (to make it easier to get to The Turf), I wrote to the Bury Times last year in connection with Bury FC's problems. I tried to convey the effect that I felt the Orient game had on Burnley – that is that I felt that that match, followed by the Sherpa Van Final the next year was the catalyst for everything that has happened since. I wanted to encourage them to support their team in numbers then, not leave it until it got too late – looks like it didn't work!

The match itself, though dramatic at the time, is a bit of a blur. I recall a ‘stranger' sitting behind me. He had been on all the league grounds and whilst he had visited Turf Moor before, he was there both because it could have been his last visit, but also out of a genuine affection for the club.

The football was poor, the drama unforgettable and as we now realise, the result was all that mattered. What really stands out was the ECSTACY at the final whistle. I can't remember who the ref was, I think he was quite famous (George Courtney possibly), but I felt that he was as relieved as we were. He certainly didn't play much injury time!

The last memory is the crowd scenes – particularly the lady in tears in the Bob Lord Stand. Then Frank Teasdale's statement – "This must never happen again." You did one good thing for us Frank – you sold out to the right people!

My mates are back with me now and I hope they never experience anything like it again. It does though put other things that have happened since into perspective – I know, I was there.

 

Steve Cummings

Standing at the back of a Longside terrace that was packed for the first time in a long time. A transistor radio pressed to my ear as a younger Alan Green, then commentating for Radio 2, relayed news of the other games which affected us as he commentated on our game. Hearing his voice fluke up an octave as Ian Britton scored. And again as referee George Courtney blew the final whistle. He seemed genuinely pleased that we had survived. As did about 16,000 Clarets in the stadium, and many more worldwide. Then I went and got blind drunk.

 

Alan

I was driving around the M25 listing to the radio broadcast at a speed of about 30 mph and as each goal went in nearly caused a major traffic accident. How I didn't cause an accident when the final whistle blew, I will never know.

 

Mark Williams

Feeling sick to the bottom of my stomach Friday and Saturday morning. The nervousness prolonged by the delayed kick off. Sheer terror every time Orient crossed the half way line.

The joy at Grewcock's left foot drive opening the scoring, shortly followed by the remains of a friend's pre-half time pie coming down from on high and hitting me square on the head. How sad that 10 years to the day after that game, 9th May 1997, I would be stood at the cemetery in Burnley as his coffin was lowered into the ground. A young life prematurely ended at 30, finally laid to rest 10 years to the day after we had shared the biggest high ever experienced at a football ground.

The chat at half time, could we hold on?

The welcome back onto the pitch for our heroes and within minutes, elation as Britton headed a second.

Back to finger nail biting as Orient pulled one back Sitting on the wall of the Cricket Field Stand, pushing someone onto the track as the whistle approached. Running on the pitch at the whistle, trying to get the shirt of Ray Deakin's back before being dragged off by 2 PC's. Swapping scarves with Orient fans, the conga round the pitch.

And finally, the belief that this must NEVER be allowed to happen again.

 

Steve Ashley

I travelled in to Burnley by bus that day, about an hours journey from over the Pennines in Yorkshire. I arrived about 1 o'clock keen to get into the Turf to savour the atmosphere, I was in as soon as the turnstiles opened, I always stood behind the goal in the Bee Hole End.

The build up to the kick-off was bad enough let alone when the match got going you could cut the
tension with a knife and it felt as though every clarets fan in the ground was just willing the team to win. I and probably everyone with me jumped with Ian Britton to head that ball in for the winner and the place erupted !

Then the celebrations after the final whistle and we knew the other results, to be honest I can't remember when I got back home that night but for the following week I annoyed everyone at work because I had a big silly grin on my face for days !

Living near Halifax I can see what it does to a team when they go out of the league (and just to prove it they've just done it again) and I am so thankful to that set of lads that did us proud that day. I'm even getting that 'nervy' feeling just writing about that day again. Well onwards and upwards for the future, because we have one. Up The Clarets ! !

 

Berian W-J

Fifteen years ago I was busy submitting my second year thesis, whilst listening to the game, in the depths of a student hostel at Gwent College, South Wales. Not the best recipe for success but we (Burnley and I) got there somehow.

Live on Radio, the tension was incredible, alleviated only when for a brief period of time we held a two goal lead. I had even gone to the Cardiff game a fortnight earlier in hope of a victory but also to say farewell - an escape had seemed unlikely.

Who will ever forget the images from Turf Moor on the national news and of the crowd in tears. There must have been tears shed all around the world on that fateful day.

It is the memory of the Orient game that makes everything achieved since so special. We appreciate that we are fortunate to have this - to have a club - to have anything when the death of our club had seemed imminent.

 

Peter Kilcoyne

In the history of the modern Football League, as far as I am aware, there had never been a match played where a team had to win to give them a chance of maintaining their league status. This was the first season of automatic relegation and, despite the pathetic and humiliating attempts by the board to get the Football League to change the rules in the days leading up to the game, we were facing extinction.

We were in this perilous position because we deserved to be. The season had been utter dross. This was a bad team which lost matches far too easily. Relegation? It can't happen to us. Well yes it could, and it was about to.
The day was surreal. I had been a Longsider from the day the Cricket Field End closed. I had my spot, and everybody round me knew it was my spot as we all jealously guarded our own spots. On this day though my spot was vacant. My lad, who was 6 at the time, had never been on Turf Moor. I had to take him to this game. Whatever the result, this was history in the making and he could tell his own kids that 'he was there'.

So at 2.00 p.m. we took our seats in the Martin Dobson Stand. I hate the damn thing. The last time I had been in there was 4 years earlier when we beat Liverpool 1-0 in a cup match. And now this.

As kick off time approached the nerves were jangling. My emotions were mixed. Fear was uppermost but also there was underlying anger. As I looked round I realised we were surrounded by suits, frocks and blue rinses. This was not right. As the teams ran on the pitch the blue rinse in front of us asked her suit 'Which lot are Burnley?'

The match itself was 90 minutes of torment. The second half was sheer hell. I spent most of the last 30 minutes looking anywhere except at the pitch. My lad was becoming a little irritated as I asked to look at his watch every 20 seconds.

The most amazing sight and my abiding memory of the whole day, however, was the incredible scene across the pitch on The Longside. It was truly amazing. A vertical wall of humanity lit by brilliant sunshine. The colour, the noise, the passion, the tension, the emotion. You could touch it. This was something special, the circumstances were unique, the drama unbearable and time was standing still.

George blew the final whistle. I couldn't speak. I couldn't see through the tears. I was wrecked. Completely drained. I caught a glimpse of Mrs Blue Rinse, rivulets of mascara running down her heavily made up face. I forgave her.

As we left the ground my lad asked 'Dad, was it 2-1 or 3-1?' I laughed loudly. 'Come on' I said, 'I'll race you to the car'. He's a full blown true Claret now though. And he was there!

 

Dave Turner

I went with my older brother and I was probably too young to realise just how important it was. That was until I got there. It is something that will always be with me.

My brother thinks he is a hard nut but I saw him cry that day – what would we have done if we had lost?

 

Andy Turner

I was at 40,000 ft flying to LA with a friend (Micky Richmond), it was 4 in the morning (Burnley Mean Time) when I eventually rang my Dad - he said "Well what do you want to know?............Burnley finished .............third off the bottom!"........Scene of two daft idiots running round LAX airport kissing (always a good excuse) & telling everyone "We've done it, we've stopped up!!!" Mad Dogs & Clarets.........

 

Des Greenwood

Strangely enough my memories of the Orient Game are very vague compared to some of the other games that season. My brother had been a season ticket holder in the Longside for years and I started to tag along in November of the Orient Season when I had enough spending money from paper rounds to get the bus over and pay my own way in, and these 1st few games I ever went to are very clear, especially the hammering by Hereford.

Of course this being the 1st season I'd been on the Turf I thought that the low crowd numbers were normal. Those were the times where everyone who attended regularly had their own place to stand on the Longside and there was no danger of not being able to stand against a barrier and have a good view of the pitch.

The 1st time I realised that we could play a bit was when Northampton came to the Turf. They were leading the division by miles and when we beat them 2-1 the performance was unrecognisable from the poor stuff I'd seen earlier, and the crowd was bigger and much more animated. The other game that sticks in my mind is Rochdale away and a 2-0 win. I can still remember both our goals and the belief of my brother that we would be OK and not drop out of the league. The other thing I remember from that game was the inflatable dinosaurs that appeared in the crowd. At least one of them was caught by the wind and disappeared over the top of the stand roof behind the goal.

The Orient game itself is a blur. I was amazed by the size of the crowd and the pushing and shoving that went on in the Longside was all new to me and our normal viewing place was a madhouse of swaying bodies. When Grewcock went on his run before the 1st goal the crowd surged forward and the only way I knew we'd scored was the huge noise and the sensation of being swept forward down the Longside. I can't remember the 2nd goal at all but presumably the same thing happened.

The only other thing I remember about the game is being impressed that I'd heard of the referee, and the state of the pitch when we all piled on after the final whistle.

Needless to say I was hooked and have had a season ticket ever since....

 

Phil Norrey

I travelled up from Bristol for the match. It was by far and away the tensest and most emotional game I have ever seen. I'm still not sure how we won. Orient looked about two divisions better than us but we kept at it. I can remember Alan Comfort blasting one over the bar with minutes to go and the score at 2-1 but after that I think the Orient players' sense of self preservation took over!

Like most of the crowd at the final whistle I scaled the fence and got on to the pitch, a small part of which I still have as a souvenir - kept in an air-tight pot. I also had an incident packed journey home.

First of all I met the Aston Villa groundsman returning by train from Old Trafford by train who from one look at my little scrap of turf described exactly the condition of the Turf Moor pitch. I also seem to remember a discussion about Arthur Bellamy's tractor. Further south I met two Port Vale fans returning from a promotion celebration at Blackpool. They were delighted that Burnley had survived.

By the time we got to Birmingham I had missed the last train to Bristol, but the Vale fans took me under their wing and the next thing I can remember is waking up in Cradley Heath with a huge hangover. For the rest of the summer I was on 'cloud nine', until, of course, Burnley 0 Colchester 3!

 

A Morris

I remember thinking, through the tears of joy, looking at the crowd singing "Burnley we love you ". Where were you when we were Sh*te and really needed you?

 

Pete Ellis

The Orient game for me is the true meaning of our colours, claret & blue, and I'm claret and blue through and through.

I've been a claret fan since 1959, it's an unusual story is my Burnley initiation. I was a young boy of about 12 at the time, I had a good mate and we weren't really interested in football. But then another good friend suggested as a bit of fun to follow a team each in the then old top Division One, and he said, "Each of you pick a team and follow them to the end of the season and see who finishes top out of the two you," and this we did, and no need to ask me who finished top.

From that season in 1959 I've been a true Burnley supporter ever since. The other amazing fact is that I come from a little town in the south of England called Gosport Town, which is next to Portsmouth. I get a fair bit of friendly banter from all my mates at work, but in true claret style I carry on regardless.

Now to the Orient game. At the time because of where I was I just couldn't get to the game itself but thanks to the radio I didn't miss a trick. What an amazing game, I must have swallowed my heart at least twenty times during that performance and it's a game that will remain with me till I die.

And what a huge debt we owe to little Ian Britton for keeping us in the Football League. I just could not grasp the fact that we had come so close to that happening, the commentary was so passionate that it really brought me close to the Turf. I could imagine the colour, a sea of claret and blue, the screaming of "Come on you Clarets", the aah's and the oow's of the full house. We'd had it explained that there were still a lot of people outside the ground waiting to come in, there were about 16,000 fans there but it sounded a great deal more.

The game kicked off and I was as nervous as you could get, I was so tense and I was praying for the right result. Not only that but I desperately wanted other results to go for us as well. The start of the game, it seemed we had so much to bank on, and even though I'm a true claret I wasn't completely confident that we could beat Orient. And what made it worse was the fact that they could make the play offs.

Anyway the game got underway and the nerves started, oh yes by the way I was at a wedding and I was wearing a Walkman, can you imagine that? I remember saying to myself if only we could score now, I'd love us to go in at half time a goal to the good, then it happened right on cue Grewcock curled a really sweet ball into the net.

I completely forgot where I was, and I jumped up and screamed out loud, Ii just couldn't contain myself ,yes,yes,yes,1-0, I was over the moon. I was also banished from inside the church, in the doghouse with the wife and she kept saying "You’re pathetic, I can’t go anywhere without you showing me up".

I was told to wait outside and to be honest that’s the best thing that could have happened to me. My only gripe was that I was on my own. I would love to have been listening with other clarets, still at least I was listening.

The second half got under way and back to the nerves again. After a while came that golden goal, I just couldn't believe it Ian Britton came between two orient defenders to head Burnley 2-0 into the lead and I felt so relieved.

I said to myself now we can finish them off and I felt a little more relieved. But as we all know we let them back in at 2-1,and I was a complete wreck, it really sounded like they were going to get an equaliser.

One minute I was cheering, next minute I was dying then the other results filtered through that Torquay were drawing and Lincoln were losing, I thought, "If it stays like this we could do it".

As we now all know we managed to hang on and get the right result, at the end I was totally shattered and I felt so drained and yet I was ecstatic that we were safe. We stayed in the Football League, May 9th 1987, it will go down as my greatest claret game.

I remain a really devout clarets fan, Burnley through and through, "Come on the clarets".

Miracles do happen, my prayers were answered. My dream now, like everyone else is lets get back to where we belong in the Premiership.

 

Raymond Gill

Before the game I wandered round every part of the Turf that was possible, thinking I would never see it again.

After The victory I met my wife in the middle of Blackburn to return to Cumbria together. Wearing Claret and Blue was never sweeter.

 

Jon Richardson

There's only one way of describing the day for me. HORRIBLE!

It was the week before my 15th birthday, the only topic of conversation at school was the match and I hated it.

I hardly slept at all in the days leading up to the game, and not at all on the Friday night. I remember feeling numb, as if I was in a dream where I couldn't wake up. I even considered not going to the game as I didn't think I could cope.

Of course I went though, I wasn't going to let the part-timers go and not be there myself. I got onto the Longside at about 1:15pm and just stood there. I was with 4 friends but they might as well have not been there for all the notice I took. I watched the crowd build until I could hardly breathe, never mind see the pitch.

Finally, after an eternity of waiting, the match kicked off. Others have recorded the match itself, I just remember wishing it was all over. The emotion was too much to take. Even at 2-0 it was painful. After all we had thrown away leads before, and when Orient pulled a goal back I felt sick to the stomach.

The rest of the game seemed to take longer than a test match. Finally the whistle blew. We were safe.

There was pandemonium all around but I couldn't move. I just stood there watching the fans conga-ing and dancing. I was too drained!

Looking back on the game, it proved to be a catalyst for us, we have gradually improved until we have now reached a position we can enjoy. Was it worth it? Definitely, but I wouldn't wish that day upon any club or any fan...well, almost any club anyway.

Up the Clarets

 

Ian McLennan

The obvious low point in supporting Burnley was in 1987 and ‘The Orient Game’.  I was there. Standing jam packed on the Longside on this occasion turned out to be one of the most eerie and uplifting experiences of my life. I made the drive up and down fromSalisbury, where I have lived since 1980.  I was not due to attend but when I woke up on the Saturday morning, I felt ‘compelled’ to go.  A duty - a calling.  When I arrived in Burnley, the streets were teeming with people all in Claret and Blue.  the whole town was converging on Turf Moor.  It was not only me that felt compelled it seemed.

Anyone there on the day will know that the crowd has never had the same power since.  Loud, yes.  Continuous noise, yes.  More than this, the combined mental power of the crowd, for me, controlled the ball and the players.  We looked down from the Longside and willed the players on.  They grew a foot in height and made blocks and tackles they had not even looked like they could make all season.  They were possessed – by the energy of theBurnleyfans and perhaps their own sense of destiny.  Goals – the best goals ever – lifeblood goals and the best saves – by players and the crowd, who seemed able to focus on the goal and deflect a goal bound shot onto or past the post, when, like subbuteo, there was no player to thrust into position. There are no words to describe what I felt, as part of that 'being' of a crowd.  We had one mind and we seemed to know that we had the power too.  The final whistle and we had all played our part in the ultimate victory.  A last minute goal elsewhere saved us from extinction.  That did not actually cross our mind.  We seemed to have taken all that for granted, somehow - if only we could meet our own part of this unearthly bargain.

Like everyone, I stayed and stood on the Turf.  I was part of a life changing moment and could not bring myself to leave.  I stood there and just absorbed the atmosphere,  knowing I had helped save my club.  I had probably helped save the town too - we all did.