Italy next for Burnley

Last updated : 19 November 2006 By Tony Scholes
Leeds and West Brom were still in the competition, representing England alongside us, as were Dundee United and Kilmarnock from Scotland. Dundee United had just come through what most thought was the toughest tie in the previous round but they won both legs as they saw off Spanish giants Barcelona 4-1 on aggregate.

Having beaten both Vfb Stuttgart and Lausanne Sport, there was no doubt the Clarets were expecting a tougher draw in this round and as the players sat in the dressing room at Roker news came through from Harry Potts that we'd got the toughest tie possible, a two legged tie against top Italian club the mega rich SSC Napoli.

The Southern Italian lire lords couldn't have been more different a club than Burnley, we had in our squad only one player brought in from another club in Alex Elder who had signed for Burnley some seven years earlier from Glentoran.

Napoli however had a squad that had cost almost £1 million to put together, including four signings in the previous year that had cost them an incredible £388,000. Their multi-millionaire shipping tycoon president had put another half million in that year to a club that was averaging 72,000 for home games in the fabulous San Paulo Stadium that could seat 80,000.

They had finished in third place in the Italian League the previous season, behind champions Inter Milan and runners up Bologna, and had strengthened their squad with the capture of inside forward Omar Sivori from Juventus, Brazilian forward Jose Altafini from AC Milan, Ortio Bianchi, a wing half from Brescia and Roma winger Alberto Orlando.

The first leg would be played at Turf Moor with the trip to Italy to follow where a massive crowd would be expected, they had taken an incredible £600,000 in season ticket sales, a figure no English club could come anything close to.

A visit to the San Paulo wouldn't be a new experience for one of the players, or so he thought at the time. Goalkeeper Adam Blacklaw had played his last game for Scotland there in a defeat against Italy. “The crowds out there are fanatical and I only saw them when they were winning,” Blacklaw said.

“You hear all these stories about crazy fans but I don't think we need to worry too much about them. As at Wembley, the spectators are well away from the pitch, and there is a moat ten yards wide.”

Jimmy Adamson recalled a visit when Burnley players and officials visited when they docked there in the summer of 1963 during their summer cruise, and they found part of the stadium in a semi-wrecked state. “We were told that a referee had refused Napoli a penalty, so the crowd set part of the terracing on fire.”

No dates had been arranged but with the tie not needing to be completed until the end of February, it was decided to leave it until after the New Year and the home leg was scheduled for 18th January and the return in Italy on 8th February.

It was some news to go out onto the pitch with at Sunderland, but two goals from Willie Irvine and a third from Andy Lochhead weren't enough and Sunderland won the game 4-3. We were now preparing for a European tie that forty years on has never been forgotten in Burnley.

The full draw was;

Eintracht Frankfurt v Ferencvaros
Burnley v Napoli
Juventus v Dundee United
Dinamo Pitesti v Dinamo Zagreb
Bologna v West Bromwich Albion
Leeds United v Valencia
Locomotiv Leipzig v Benfica
Kilmarnock v Gent