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  1. INTRODUCTION. Well, in one sense, this is the biggest game of the season for us so far; surely the one we all looked forward to from the day this season’s fixtures were published. And even though we’ve got as far on the FA Cup trail as we have, this is the game to look forward to for fans of both teams; especially theirs, because it comes around so rarely! [First bit of banter there, Stuart! ] HISTORY. Burnley are third in order of formation of East Lancashire’s professional football clubs [the original Accrington club was founded in 1876, the year after us]. They weren’t formed until 1882, the year before our first Cup Final appearance. They had their origins in the Burnley Rovers [“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?”] Rugby club but, within days of deciding to focus exclusively on the round ball, they dropped the “Rovers” from their name. Originally, they played in various blue and white kits [“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” (What do you reckon, Stuart? Another bit of banter, eh?! )] and there’s a photograph of their team in 1889/90, the second League season, wearing striped shirts, presumably in those colours. Like us, they were founder-members of the Football League, but only lasted in the top Division for the first 9 seasons of the League. In that time, we had, unsurprisingly, a vastly superior record, winning all but one [a draw] of those first nine home League games and, in four of those seasons, doing the Double over them. However, and this will be the only favourable thing you’ll read about them in this Preview [apart from Opponent’s Opinion, of course], at the end of the 1897/98 season, they helped us stay in Division 1. We finished 15th out of 16 teams in Division 1 at the end of that season and it looked like we were going to lose our status of never having been relegated. In those days, there were what were called “Test matches” [we’d call them “Play-offs”] to determine which teams went up between Divisions 1 & 2 and which would be relegated. We lost 3 out of our 4 Test matches [including both against them], and it seemed inevitable that we would be relegated. However, according to Mike Jackman’s “Complete Record” of Rovers, Burnley proposed that Division 1 be extended by 2 clubs which allowed us to remain in the enlarged Division One, which, of course, [unlike them!] we didn’t leave until 1935/36. They joined us in that enlarged Division 1 in the 1898/99 season [the first one in which they ever won at Ewood in the League] and recorded their first-ever League “Double” over us. At the end of following season, they sank back to Division 2, where they remained until being promoted for the last Football League season before World War 1, which we ended by celebrating our second League title win! Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find any record of them joining in those celebrations! [Even more banter there, eh, Stuart?! ] After World War 1, the teams continued to meet in Divison 1 until 1930, when Burnley were relegated to Division 2, where we joined them six seasons later in our first-ever season outside the top level of English football. We returned to Division 1 in 1939 but, after three games of the 1939/40 season, the League programme was abandoned until 1946. So we resumed after the War [1946/47 season] in Division 1 with our neighbours still in Division 2. They were promoted at the end of that first post-War season and, after one more season, we went down to Division 2, where we remained until the 1957/58 season when “Carey’s chicks” won promotion. That meant that many of the older members of this Board [including yours truly] grew up in an era when, although both teams were in the old Division 1, they were having a more successful spell than us, including competition in Europe. While we were relegated in 1966, they remained in Division 1 until 1971 when they were relegated to Division 2. Unfortunately, we were in Division 3 at the time and they had returned to the top Division before we found ourselves back in Division 2. So it wasn’t until 1976 that the clubs met again in the League, when they were relegated from Division 1. After three seasons in the same Division, we went back to Division 3 for the 1979/80 season, at the end of which the two clubs swapped places. Burnley joined us in Division 2 in 1982 [for one season only] before returning to Division 3, then spending the rest of the 1980s and early 1990s in Division 4, where, of course, they, erm, “flew” very close to losing their League status. [You can now relax, Stuart; that’s the last bit of banter!] They stayed in the bottom tier of League football until 1992; the season in which, of course, we became founder-members of the Premier League. Having risen to the heights of the third tier of the game, they remained there until being promoted to Football League, Division One [as the Championship was then known] for the 2000/01 season which was [until this season of course] our last one at that level. The double we recorded over them that season [by a total of the “Magnificent” Seven goals to nil] helped us back to the Premier League, where they finally joined us in 2009 for their only season at the top level since 1976. COMMON LINKS. Despite the very close rivalry between the fans, I was quite surprised to find how many players have played for both teams. One link from before [even!] my time is someone who played for both teams, then managed us. Jack Bruton was a winger who played for Burnley in the second half of the 1920s. They sold him to us in December 1929 as their relegation from Division One looked inevitable [and was!]. He played for us throughout the 1930s, playing for the last time in the opening game of the 1938/39 season. He became Assistant Trainer, then Assistant Secretary before taking over as manager in 1947. He couldn’t prevent the club being relegated in 1948 and finishing in 14th place in Division Two in 1949 led to his somewhat acrimonious departure from the club. The first of two players to play for both clubs in the 1960s was Walter Joyce whom we bought from them towards the end of the 1963/64 season [Deadline days; but no “Transfer Windows” back then!]. Originally a wing-half, he played 120 games for us until he joined his home town team, Oldham Athletic, in 1967. Better-known nationally was a player whose death last October was mourned by fans of both clubs, John Connelly. He played for Burnley from 1958 to 1964, gaining a Football League championship-winners’ medal in 1960 and an F.A. Cup runners-up medal the following year. Willie Morgan’s emergence led to his transfer in April 1964 to Manchester United from whom we signed him at the start of the 1966/67 season. Another England international of that era to play for both clubs was Keith Newton, a full-back whose career began at Ewood. A regular at Ewood throughout the 1960s, he was transferred to Everton in 1969 from where he moved to Burnley in the early 1970s. For his last couple of seasons at Ewood, Newton was in the back 4 ahead of Adam Blacklaw, the Scottish international whom we bought in 1967 after he’d made over 300 League appearances in the Burnley goal. A sobering thought for many of my generation must be that each of those four whom we remember so well playing for us - it doesn’t seem that long ago - has passed away. Still with us are players of more recent vintage such as Kevin Hird, who played for us for six seasons in the 1970s before joining Leeds United. After five seasons with them, he spent his final two seasons wearing claret and blue. More recently, players to have worn both shirts include: Andrew [Andy] Cole, who won his only League Cup-winners’ medal in Cardiff on that wonderful Sunday, 26th February 2002 and played 13 games for Burnley on loan from Sunderland six years later; Keith Treacy, who began his career at Ewood and, after a dozen League appearances and several loan spells, joined Preston before moving 1½ seasons later to Turf Moor. He’s not a first-team regular there, either [ ]; and, erm, someone called Bradley Orr, who wore claret and blue in his first-ever League game when on loan from Newcastle United in 2004. DID YOU KNOW? Now this is only according to Wiki, so I’m not vouching 100% for it, but apparently their colour change [in 1910] from blue and white shirts to claret and blue shirts was “in tribute to the dominant club of English football, Aston Villa.” OPPONENTS’ OPINION. As you’ll probably appreciate, one of the difficulties about preparing the preview for this game is that it’s even more difficult than usual to be unbiased. I could have contacted my Burnley-supporting friend from schooldays 50 years ago, who now lives in New Zealand, but he’s just rabid! So I asked longsiders1882, whose opinions on us are the nearest ones to rational from a Burnley fan that I’ve ever read, to answer the following: When, as it seemed to outsiders, Eddie Howe left you in the lurch, what were your expectations of Sean Dyche? Eddie's departure was a strange one, I don't think there has ever been a move as welcomed by all parties. He's a good manager in my opinion but struggled being so far away from 'home' and we'd been on a downward spiral for about 6 months. There was a chance we were going to have to sack him if things didn't start improving so the move was so opportune. As for Dyche, initially I was fairly unimpressed by the appointment but having a read about him I thought he might prove to be a sensible appointment. He'd done well in his time at Watford and was well thought of in football, could work with a small budget etc etc. I guess I adopted a watching brief but was quietly optimistic. And has he fulfilled them? As ever it's never all good or bad. Initially he came in and did well to stop us shipping cricket scores every game. Inevitably it was at the cost of our free scoring but we couldn't go on as we were. We had an OK period, dominated a number of games but couldn't get over the finishing line and take the three points. More recently we've been poor. We look to be going more and more long ball and are not overly effective at it! Right now I'd say I'm disappointed but yet still strangely feel that he is the right person, given some time and a chance to sign a few players of his own choice. Besides Charlie Austin, who should we be looking out for as Danger men? Charlie hasn't been scoring as freely lately and has uncharacteristically missed a few 'sitters'. He's still a dangerous goal scorer though. Then there is Trippier. Our right back provides one of our most potent attacking threats. He really is back to his best. After him I'm struggling a little if I'm honest, no one really stands out as a player that you should be worried about. Nobody has been 'doing the business' in the last couple of months. I do think the best way to get at your defence is by playing in and around them rather than looking to lump the ball up so maybe somebody like Ings. And who in our squad would you see as our Danger men? Rhodes is the obvious one of course, an excellent goal scorer who only needs a sniff to get on the score sheet. I know you've signed a couple on loan. I've no idea what sort of player Bentley is these days but at one time he was top drawer. Jones is a player I always rated so he's one I'd be looking at. I understand Best is back and he always seems to be a handful. I would say King but I'm not sure where he is at with injuries. As one who knows more about us than most fans of opposing teams, can you summarise your opinion of our recent history and sayy whether you think we’re over the worst? If I wasn't a Burnley fan I'd think what has been allowed to happen to all that Jack built and Williams nurtured is criminal. If it was my club, taken from being arguably the best run smaller Premier League Club (no offence intended, I just mean compared to the Arsenals, Chelsea, etc.) I think I'd cry - or set fire to somebody ;-). Even in my wildest dreams, never would I have dared to hope such a downfall could be engineered so quickly. They really did an excellent job of ripping the heart out of the club. It was almost as though they drew up a blue print of how not to run a successful football club. As for are you over the worst, I don't know. I've said before I can't really understand what the owners end game is, what they want. Have they been naive or is the disdain willful? Did they really not understand what they were buying? It seems odd for such successful business people to make so many fundamental mistakes and let’s be honest, if it was a case of not understanding the industry that didn't matter. They had, in my opinion, the best administrator in English football in Williams, all they needed to do was listen to him. No, something doesn't feel quite right; and my instincts tell me there might yet be worse to come. Now that it’s looking likely that we’ll be meeting in the League again next season, what are Burnley’s realistic hopes for next season? Yeah I think we will survive this season but it will be closer than it should have been. I'd love to talk about a top 6 tilt next season but we simply don't have the money. Unless we can get some investment in, and there's slim hope of that, then unfortunately I think anything 10th or above will represent an excellent season and I certainly would not rule out a relegation battle. Austin will be sold in summer and we won't be able to replace him with anything even close to such a potent goal scorer, Trippier will almost certainly go as well and there is little else in the squad that makes you think 'this is a team that will storm this division'. And finally, I know you think that this game might be a belter; does that mean you think that nearly 34 years of history will be brought to an end this season? [Honestly, now!] We didn't play for the first 17 years of the 34. ["He would say that; wouldn’t he?!" Ed.] Since hostilities were resumed, it seems that each time we've played everybody says 'best chance' yet to end the run. In most cases since 2000 the truth is we've been hopelessly outgunned and it is to our credit that, on most occasions, we've kept the score 'respectable'. That said, I actually think this is the second best chance we have had, the home game this season was the best chance. Right now both teams are in a poor run of form, look desperately low on confidence but a derby win is all we have left to play for and your players just might be distracted by the FA Cup, assuming you beat Millwall. So, do I think it will be ended? I had a lot more confidence that we could end it in the home game than I do this time. We looked a better team, we were at home, and for 45 minutes I actually thought we were going to win. However much stick he's had, Robinson kept you in it in that first half, we really should have been 3 up. I don't see that happening this time. I think it will be close again, maybe just the odd goal in it. I expect it will be the usual blood and thunder affair, I just hope we get a controversial penalty in the 94th minute to win it, now that would be the perfect end to 34 years of hurt :-). I have to predict with the heart so I'm going Rovers 1-2 Burnley. CURRENT “FORM”. Well; our recent “blip” [let’s hope that’s all it is!] in League form since we beat Arsenal in the 5th Round, together with our F.A. Cup commitments, means that they’re above us in the table as we’re going into this game. Mind you, as I have to keep explaining to my Burnley-supporting pal in NZ, the League is a marathon, not a sprint! Neither team has played a League game this weekend. We were at Millwall of course, while our neighbours play on Monday evening at home to Hull City. I’m posting this after the final whistle has gone at Millwall so am not taking their game into account when looking at the Form tables. We all know how disastrous our League form has been since we beat Arsenal in the 5th Round of the Cup. We’ve only taken 2 points from our last 6 League games [draws away to Brighton and home to Leeds United]. Meanwhile, our neighbours’ record isn’t much better – they’ve taken 5 points from their last 6 League games [a win at Charlton Athletic and 2 home draws versus Middlesbrough and Barnsley respectively]. That means that, at the time of posting this thread, they are 5 places, and 3 points, ahead of us. A 2-0 home win could alter that, though - and if Hull beat them tomorrow night, we’d only need to win by one goal to go back above them. SUNDAY’S GAME. It’ll be 33 years, 11 months and 3 days since we last lost to Burnley [i wonder how many people reading this were born after Saturday, 14th April 1979?! ] and, although it’s fair to say they were optimistic about ending that record last December when Henning Berg’s team drew at Turf Moor, it still stands. This is the 43rd season the teams have met in the League and the bragging rights are definitely ours, with 38 wins to their 33 and 10 League “Doubles” to their 7. Whoever gets our first goal on Sunday afternoon will have scored our 100th Home League goal against them. So what are the chances of another home win? When I first asked longsiders to answer the questions above, he expressed the opinion that the game would be a belter. I wasn’t so sure then; and am even less so now. Perhaps that’s due to my prejudices about this game above all others. I think it could be a fairly dour game which I hope and pray we’ll win, maybe by 2-0, which, at the time of posting, this would be enough to put us back above them in the League. Because of our growing injury list, it’s more difficult than usual to suggest a team which could start this game. Try this one for starting the discussion: Kean; Lowe, Dann, Henley,Martin O [if fit]; Pedersen, Jones, Stewart, King; Rhodes, Campbell.
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