Click here for previous articles
There is no doubt that Burnley are the most improved side in the First Division of the Football League. Earlier in the season, when they had played fifteen games and secured only ten points, they were fourth from the bottom of the table promoting fears of relegation. Since then, however, in addition to their FA Cup success, they have made such a remarkable recovery that they are established in a comfortable League position.
What has brought about the marked improvement?
Greater strength on the flanks is the main reason. Since Burnley paid £20,000 to Bradford for outside left Elliott combined with the return to fitness of their outside right, Chew, they have never looked back. Their performances recall the days of 1920-21, when Burnley set a record that may never be equalled. They went through thirty consecutive League games, from September 6th, to March 26th, without defeat, winning 21 and drawing 9, a wonderful achievement in days of fierce competition. That team will always be talked about in the Lancashire town. The half-back line of Halley, Boyle and Watson compared favourably with any of the old-time stars. Behind them were Goalkeeper Dawson and Taylor, one of the fastest fullbacks to ever play the game. In front were ball artists like Bob Kelly and Ben Cross, and at centre forward, the burly, dashing figure of Joe Anderson. It was a great side, probably one of the best Burnley ever had. It must have brought unbounded pleasure to any surviving members of the YMCA enthusiasts who founded the club way back in the middle 1870s. Then it was known as Burnley Rovers, and rugby was the ruling passion. In 1881, they changed over completely to soccer, knocked “Rovers” out of the name and took up their establishment at Turf Moor, the present ground. But Burnley went through many trials and tribulations before they became world renowned. Though they were one of the twelve founder members of the League, in 1888, they had none too happy a start. In their second League season, they did not win a game until March and finished in the bottom two, but were re-elected. Then seven years later, in 1897, they were relegated to the Second Division but won their way back to the top circle within twelve months.
Success and failure followed rapidly. Burnley have won the First Division championship only once and the FA Cup once. That was in 1914, the last occasion the final was played at Crystal Palace. His Majesty King George V, saw their 1-0 victory over Liverpool, the first time Royalty had attended the final (see photo). Hero of the game was centre forward Bert Freeman who got the only goal of the game and of course the mainstays of the side were halfbacks Halley, Boyle and Watson. Burnley came near to repeating their FA Cup success in the 1947 final at Wembley. A goal by Chris Duffy, Charlton Athletic’s outside left, during extra time, put paid to their hopes. There have been, of course, many famous internationals in the Burnley ranks. Among them were Jack Hill, the big auburn-haired centre half, transferred to Newcastle United in 1928 for the then record fee of £8,000, and Tommy Lawton, England’s centre forward, now with Brentford, who, when only seventeen years old, was transferred to Everton for £6,000. They, and others, have helped to keep the well-known claret and light blue colours to the forefront.
Back Row: Aird, Adamson, Strong, Attwell, Mather
Front Row: Chew, Morris, Holden, Cummings, Shannon, Elliott
© Soccer Nostalgia
Design: David Ainsworth