by Neil Fissler
PAUL FLETCHER says Burnley were confident they could book a quick return to the First Division, where they had spent 25 of the previous 26 seasons.
Fletcher was leading scorer for the Clarets with 15 goals and two of them, against Sunderland, clinched promotion back to the top flight.
He points out that manager Jimmy Adamson built on the foundations of the club’s 1968 FA Youth Cup-winning squad.
Fletcher says Adamson then added to it along the way, and a run at the end of their first season back in the Second Division convinced him they could win promotion.
And so it proved to be, losing only four games all season, two at home, as they took the Second Division title from QPR by a point.
“I think the season before we won our last six games on the trot, so we came into the season pretty confident we were going to do something,” he said.
“And the fact we lost only four games all season was quite significant. Also, the fact we really used only 14 players all season, though the odd person might have played one game.
“Generally, there were just 14 of us. We weren’t great individuals, but, as a team, we were superb and we approached every game knowing we were going to win it.
“Jimmy Adamson used to say you need four good players and seven dogsbodies, and I was one of those,” he said.
“But we had four real star players in Alan Stevenson, Frank Casper, Martin Dobson and Leighton James. And a lot of the players were a kick-back from the Youth Cup winning side.
“I was bought to play in the team and I was lucky to join this very talented side, as was Colin Waldron. Even though he was from Bury, we bought him from Chelsea.
“So, the youth cup winning side was topped up with some pretty good buys. It was a golden time for us, especially the next two years because we stayed in the First Division.
“We had some good victories and finished sixth in our first season up. We were a damn good side and still meet up every Thursday night for a drink and discuss the old days,” he said.
Fletcher, during his time as chief executive at Turf Moor, made sure that Adamson, who captained the club to the First Division title, is remembered forever at the club.
“Back at Burnley, one of the things I noticed was there was no room to acknowledge his time here and I persuaded the board to have a Jimmy Adamson Suite,” he said.
“He hadn’t been back to the club for 30 odd years and we managed to get him back that day to open this suite with his grandchildren.
“When he walked out to be introduced to the crowd, he genuinely thought he wasn’t well thought of here, but he got a massive ovation.
“There were tears rolling down his face and he realised how wrong he had been for the last 30 years, thinking Burnley fans didn’t like him, but it was the opposite.”
- Jim Thomson: A defender who served the Clarets as commercial manager before becoming sales manager for a soft drinks company, then Scottish Courage until retiring.
- Colin Waldron: A defender who became a successful bookie, running Waldron Racing in Nelson, Lancashire, for more than 30 years until selling to Star Sports in May 2011.
- Alan Stevenson: A goalkeeper who became commercial manager with a host of clubs and is currently commercial consultant to York City.
- Ray Hankin: A centre-forward who managed Darlington and then Newcastle’s community scheme, before becoming a support worker in the North East.
- Keith Newton: England full-back who ran a trophy business and a newsagents before becoming a salesman for Vauxhall until his death from lung cancer in 1998, aged 56.
- Jimmy Adamson: The manager who left the game after leaving Leeds United in 1980 and remained in Burnley until his death in November 2011, aged 82.
- Alan West: A midfielder who managed Non-League Hitchin before becoming pastor at Luton Christian Fellowship and is Luton Town’s club chaplain.
- Geoff Nulty: A midfielder who lives in his native Prescot, where he was a sub-postmaster, as well as having interests in commercial and private property, a beauty salon and a building company
- Eddie Cliff: A full-back who settled in Burnley, where, for the last 31 years, he has run an exhaust and tyre business. He is also pastor at Hurstwood Church in the town.
- Mick Docherty: The defender, son of Tommy, went into management, coaching and scouting at a number of clubs, including Burnley, and has also coached at the Burnley College football academy
- Doug Collins: A midfielder who, after a spell as Rochdale’s player-boss, emigrated to Australia and is a successful businessman, having owned a McDonald’s franchise in Nowra, New South Wales.
- Brian Miller: The trainer who had two spells as Burnley manager and had two grandsons who played for the club. He lived in the town until his death in April 2007, aged 70.
- Billy Ingham: A midfielder, nicknamed The Ginger Pele, became a bus driver for the Burnley and Pendle Bus company until his death in November 2009, aged 58, after a long battle with illness.
- Frank Casper: A forward who had three seasons in charge at Turf Moor. He has worked for a sportswear company and became a director for a commercial and sales consultancy specialising in sports. 15. Martin Dobson: The England midfielder went into management and was Burnley’s director of youth development, before scouting for Ipswich and Leicester City
- Paul Fletcher: A striker who became involved in stadium design and corporate hospitality,before becoming chief executive at Burnley. He is now managing director of the University College of Football Business, which is based at Turf Moor.
- Leighton James: The Welsh international winger has held a number of management posts in Wales and has also been a newspaper columnist and radio pundit.
Harry Wilson: A defender who managed Seaham Red Star and Whitby Town. He worked as Sunderland’s community officer, then rejoined the Burnley coaching staff, and later worked for Bury and the Football League.
Dave Thomas: The England winger ran a landscape gardening business before becoming a PE teacher at Bishop Luffa School in Chichester, Sussex, until retiring.
Jeff Parton: A goalkeeper who joined the licensed trade and ran his own pub in Preston for many years. He is still based in the area.
Eric Probert: A midfielder who became a pub landlord in North Yorkshire. He died in September 2004 at the age of 52 after a spell of ill heath
Paul Bradshaw: A winger who returned to his native Sheffield and became a PE teacher at Silverdale School.