Date: 9th August 2009 at 6:51pm
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Our first home game in the Premier League is coming up soon against League Champions, Manchester United and what a baptism of fire that will prove to be!

Sitting through a pretty dire friendly match against Leeds recently, my mind began to wander after seeing the billboard on the ground announcing that our next home game would be against Manchester United on Wednesday 19th August (7:45pm KO)

My mind went back to the last time we were in the top flight, 33 years ago to 1976.

Your editor was just 22 back then and about to embark on a career down in London after graduating from University (UMIST in Manchester)

However that season (1975-76) we were relegated and the team that sent us down would be Manchester United at Turf Moor on one Monday night in April. The match was our penultimate game of the season with just Coventry City to play at home and realistically we needed two points to stand any chance of staying up.(You only got two points for a win back then)

On the night we played them Manchester United were flying high in third place in the League and that’s where they would finish behind second placed QPR and Champions, Liverpool.

Burnley on the other hand were languishing second from bottom and would stay there being relegated rather co-incidentally along with Wolves and Sheffield United with Birmingham just surviving 4th from bottom.

Birmingham and Wolves of course were promoted along with Burnley last season and we all know what happened to the Blades at Wembley!

Although my mind is hazy about that fateful game played on the night of 19th April 1976, I remember we played well and did not deserve to lose against United. It was Lou Macari who broke the Clarets hearts that night scoring a goal to give United a 1-0 victory and condemn Burnley to Division 2 football. Little did we know that day, it would take another 33 sodding years to get back to where we belonged!

I dug out the old programme to look for clues and reminders and it made interesting reading.

Back then the match day magazine was still called a programme although we did name it ‘Claret&Blue News & Views’ that season. By the way it only cost 15p!!

The Clarets back then were managed by Joe Brown and United by the infamous, Tommy Docherty. The United side had a number of big names in their squad including Alex Stepney in goal, Brian Greenoff, Martin Buchan, Steve Coppell, Sammy McIlroy, Stuart Pearson, Gordon Hill and Lou Macari.

In those days of course we were only allowed one substitute and that day it was Billy Ingham as we lined up as follows:

Peyton, Scott, Newton, Noble, Thomson, Rodaway, Morris, Flynn, Hankin, Fletcher, Summerbee.

Of course we have played Manchester United at Turf Moor since that fateful night in 1976 although not in a league game. We have played them just twice in fact both in the League Cup. Clarets fans will also want to forget both those games as well. We got tonked 7-0 on aggregate in the 1984-5 season going down 3-0 in October 1984 after getting thumped 4-0 at Old Trafford. The Red Devils also beat us 2-0 at Turf Moor in December 2002 during Stan Ternent’s tenure.

Oh well I hope you enjoyed the brief trip down memory lane to a different era, when the Premier League was but a distant dream and Burnley could compete on a level playing field with the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal!

Yes, a return to the top flight has been a long time coming and how fitting our first match at Turf Moor should be against Manchester United.

However there is still the little matter first of Stoke City at the Britannia on Saturday August 15th….

Come on You Clarets!!