BurnleyThe BeginningThe ClubThe UpsThe DownsBurnle

A Football Report


The Beginning

Lancashire boasts a host of Football League clubs, one of which is Burnley Football Club who are founder members of the Football League.

Burnley Rovers, as they were then known, were founded in 1882 after originally being a rugby team. For the six years before the formation of the Football League, Burnley Rovers competed in friendlies and cup competitions only. However, by the late 1880’s Burnley were one of a few clubs pushing the FA for a league system, and in 1888 the professional clubs of Lancashire and the Midlands competed in the first ever league: the Football League was born.

The Club

Burnley Football Club play their home matches at Turf Moor, and have done since 1883, leaving Preston as the only side to have been at their current home ground for longer than the Clarets. Turf Moor has recently been upgraded, when in the 90’s two new all seated stands were installed, one of which replaced the famous Longside, which was known as the heart of Turf Moor to many fans. Turf Moor currently has a capacity of 22,546. However, now plans are in place to develop the two remaining stands, as Chairman Barry Kilby and Director Brendan Flood look to push the club forwards.

Burnley are now known for their claret and blue strip, as they are one of a handful of clubs who wear these colours. They have not always worn these colours though, and at the beginning, the club could be seen sporting the colours of amber and black, a thought most bizarre to Burnley fans of the modern era.

The Ups

As more professional clubs joined the Football League, more divisions were formed; Burnley had a brief spell in the second division which they won in 1897/98. It then took Burnley a while to establish themselves towards the higher regions of the first division; the first signs were in 1914, months before the outbreak of the Great War, when Burnley lifted the FA Cup, beating Liverpool 1-0 to win the club’s first major honour.

The war halted Burnley’s immediate success; however, they soon pushed on after the conclusion of WWI. In the 1919/20 season the Clarets recorded their highest league finish to date as they came in as runners-up. The following year the club went one better as they lifted their first Division One title in a season in which the Clarets boasted a thirty game unbeaten record.

The success didn’t continue after that great season though, and there were no major achievements after that title success until the late 50’s and early 60’s with the exception of an FA Cup final defeat to Charlton in 1947.

The late 50’s and early 60’s are known as the golden period in Burnley’s history, and is a period when many people from outside Lancashire adopted Burnley as their team. The period is also known for the management of Harry Potts who was at the helm from 58-70.In this period he ensured his status as a Burnley legend. For a period known as the richest in the club’s history it is surprising to mention that Burnley only actually lifted one major trophy in this period, despite threatening in a host of competitions. The honour came in the 1959/60 season when Burnley lifted their second Division One title, beating Tottenham Hotspurs to the title, a team that would then continue to haunt Burnley for the next few years.

1961/62 is a season that could have gone down in Burnley’s history as their greatest ever. Burnley and Tottenham were favourites for the title, and as Burnley opened up a points lead over Spurs, it looked as if they were set for their third title, all but for a certain Alf Ramsey. Then manager of Ipswich Town, he managed to take the title from Burnley, capping a remarkable season for Ipswich, and an astonishing climax to the league season. Despite missing out on the league title, Burnley still had an FA Cup final to look forward to. In the final they faced Tottenham Hotspur; the Clarets went on to lose an epic final 3-1. The season at the time was a great disappointment for the Clarets, but looking back is a time that has yet to have been matched.

The Downs

Despite competing in the top league of English football for most of their history, Burnley have suffered a fair few downs along the way. Their first relegation came in the 1896/97 season, when after just eight years in the top flight they found themselves in the second tier of English football, but worse was to come in the future. It was the 1970’s that were the nadir of Burnley Football Club’s ‘downs’.

The plight of Burnley arguably began in 1971, when after a lengthy period in the top flight, the club suffered relegation once again to the then named Division Two. Despite this they did briefly return to the top flight, only to suffer the ill fate of relegation once again in 1975/76, which is now the last time Burnley competed in England’s top flight.

From then on, things only got worse for the club. In 1980 the club slipped into the Third Division for the first time in the club’s history, only to win promotion straight away and then be relegated again. As fans of the club believed they were at an all time low, Burnley suffered another relegation, to the bottom tier of English football in 1985.

All of these relegations culminated in a match which is arguably the most notable in the history of Burnley Football Club’s 125 year history. On the 9th May 1987 Burnley faced relegation to the Vauxhall Conference, if they failed to beat Leyton Orient, a far cry from the success enjoyed by the club in the 60’s. However, there was a twist: even if Burnley did beat Orient they were relying on Lincoln City failing to win. Burnley beat Orient 2-1 with goals from Ian Britton and Neil Grewcock, and when news filtered through that Lincoln City had lost, the Burnley Orient game was immediately granted a place in the Claret’s history.

Burnley in Europe

Burnley’s European history begins and ends in the 60’s, when, under the leadership of Harry Potts, they competed in two European campaigns. The 1960 championship side faced a first round tie against French opposition, champions Reims, a match the clarets went on to win. The second round set up an England v Germany tie.However, the outcome was not as Burnley would have hoped, as the club crashed out to Hamburg thus ending any European dreams.

After finishing third in the 65/66 season, Burnley qualified for the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, now known as the UEFA cup, and this was a campaign which really captured the imaginations of the town. Burnley sailed through the first two rounds, beating Lausanne of Switzerland and Stuttgart of Germany. These two victories set up a tie with Italian giants Naples. Burnley were given little hope but they managed to pull off a superb victory. The victory over Naples set up a quarter final tie with Eintracht Frankfurt and after a 1-1 draw in Germany, Burnley felt they had set up a semi final spot. The story was much different though as the German side came to Turf Moor and picked up a 2-1 win, ending Burnley’s European dreams, which have yet to come alive since that defeat.

The Beginning of the Present

After success against Orient enabled Burnley to keep their football league status, the club have on the whole failed to look back. After a few steady seasons in the fourth division Burnley were promoted to the third tier of English football as champions in the 1991/92 season. In doing this the club became one of only two sides who have won each professional league in English football, joining Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Burnley, under the guidance of Jimmy Mullen then continued to improve, and promotion to the second tier of English football, now known as the Championship, was imminent. In the 1993/94 play-off final, Burnley overcame Stockport County 2-1 to win that promotion, although one season later, still under Mullen’s guidance, found themselves back in the third tier.

Two managers later, Adrian Heath and Chris Waddle, and Stan Ternent took charge and it was in his spell at the club that the Clarets pushed on. It was the 1999/2000 millennium season which saw Burnley win promotion once more to English football’s second tier. On the back of that promotion Ternent’s men continued to make an impact. The club established themselves as a Championship club, and just missed out on the play-offs for two seasons running. The club also provided the fans with players such as Ian Wright and Paul Gascoigne. However, at then end of the 2003/04 season Ternent and the board felt he had taken the club as far he could, and mutually parted company.

The Present and the Future

With the departure of Stan Ternent, Steve Cotterill was appointed as the new man at Turf Moor, and in his three years at the club he failed to push the side up the table as the board would have wished, resulting in his job as manager of Burnley Football club ending in November 2007. Owen Coyle has been appointed, from Scottish side St.Johnstone, and his job is to push the club towards the top six of the Championship. Chairman Barry Kilby and Director Brendan Flood have every intention of moving the club towards England’s top flight once more, for the first time since 1975.

Their ambitions are also characterised off the pitch with recent plans revealed to upgrade the ground and the training facilities as Burnley Football Club’s future enters a new chapter.


Founded: 1882

Founder Member of the Football League: 1888

Division One: 1920/21, 1959/60

Division One Runners Up: 1919/20, 1961/62

Division Two: 1897/98, 1971/72

Division Three: 1981/82

Division Three Runners Up: 1999/2000

Division Four: 1991/92

FA Cup: 1913/14

FA Cup Runners Up: 1946/47, 1961/62

FA Charity Shield: 1973/74

FA Charity Shield Joint Winners: 1960/61

Club Records

  • Record League Victory: 9-0 v Darwen, Division 1, January 9, 1892
  • Record Cup Victory: 9-0 v Penrith, FA Cup, Round 1, November 17, 1984
  • Record League Defeat: 0-10 v Aston Villa, Division 1, August 29, 1925
  • Record Cup Defeat: 0-11 v Darwen, FA Cup, 1st Round, October 17, 1885
  • Record Home Attendance: 54,775 v Huddersfield Town, FA Cup, Round 3, Turf Moor, February 23, 1924
  • Most League Appearances: 522 Jerry Dawson
  • Most League Goals: 178 George Beel
  • Most League Goals in a Season: 35 George Beel, Division 1, 1927-28
  • Most Capped Player: 51 Jimmy McIlroy – Northern Ireland
  • Record Transfer Fee Paid: £1,000,000 Ian Moore, Stockport County, November 20, 2000
  • Record Transfer Fee Received: £1,625,000 Ade Akinbiyi, Sheffield United, January 26, 2006

History of Managers

1893-96 Arthur F Sutcliffe

1896-99 Harry Bradshaw

1899-1903 Ernest Magnall

1903-10 Spen Whittaker

1910-11 R H Wadge

1911-25 John Haworth

1925-32 Albert Pickles

1932-35 Tom Bromilow

1935-39 Alf Boland

1945-48 Cliff Britton

1948-54 Frank Hill

1954-57 Alan Brown

1957-58 Billy Dougall

1958-70 Harry Potts

1970-76 Jimmy Adamson

1976-77 Joe Brown

1977-79 Harry Potts

1979-83 Brian Miller

1983-84 John Bond

1984-85 John Benson

1985 Martin Buchan

1985-86 Tommy Cavanagh

1986-89 Brian Miller

1989-91 Frank Casper

1991-96 Jimmy Mullen

1996-97 Adrian Heath

1997-98 Chris Waddle

1998-04 Stan Ternent

04-07 Steve Cotterill

07- Owen Coyle