Clarets Corner by John Greenwood: Leicester again, 40 years on

John in a replica 1974 era Burney shirt. The one he actually had then doesn't fit him any more....
John in a replica 1974 era Burney shirt. The one he actually had then doesn't fit him any more....

For my ninth birthday, in March, 1974, my dad took me to a first team game at Turf Moor for the first time.

I think it was the next home game after the big day, and followed up a “testing the water” exercise where we had taken in a Liverpool reserve game to see if I would watch a full 90 minutes, as opposed to the brief snippets which made up TV football viewing in those days.

Even at that age I knew you needed a strong stomach for a full 90 minutes. The first full length England international I had been allowed to stay up and watch on the television was the infamous England v Poland qualifier in October ‘73. Enough said for all who saw that!

Anyhow, not only have I completed 40 years as a regular attender at Turf Moor, that debut first team affair was against Leicester City, who rock up at Turf Moor for the Sky televised match on Saturday lunchtime (12.15pm kick-off).

The 1974 Burnley-Leicester clash was assuredly a 3pm kick-off affair, and, as he frightened children as small as I was then, a fierce glare from BFC chairman Bob Lord at anyone suggesting a ball be kicked earlier would have sent any television exec scurrying away quickly before he could ban them.

Leicester’s big stars of the time were the great striker Frank Worthington and goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who I’d seen having the ball put through his legs in the Poland match. Sadly, he didn’t replicate that in what turned out to be a fairly uneventful 0-0 draw, but it was a great season for Burnley, and I’ve never forgotten the passionate atmosphere, a first sight of Claret legends in the flesh, previously only seen on Shoot! posters and bubblegum cards.

I expect a similar fevered atmosphere on Saturday, and hope for a happy anniversary!