Back to the Future 3-If We Had the Hammers
After two draws in the opening games of the season against Arsenal and Everton both at Turf Moor, our first away game was against West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday 23rd August 1975.
The Hammers back then were an established First Division side having been in the top flight since their promotion in 1958. They were though effectively a mid-table team by the middle of the seventies although did have some success in the Cup competitions. In 1974-75 they had finished 13th in the First Division but had won the FA Cup beating Fulham 2-0 at Wembley.
Their best era in the sixties though was now over and their three key players of the England World Cup team of 1966 had all left the club. Although they no longer had Bobby Moore, Martin Paters and Geoff Hurst on their books, nevertheless they still had some household names and some who would become them.
They were led by manager, John Lyall who had taken over from Ron Greenwood in 1974 (he had moved himself 'upstairs' to become General Manager) and their players included Trevor Brooking, Alan Curbishley, Alan Taylor, Billy Bonds, Pat Holland and keeper, Mervyn Day. They also had Frank Lampard playing for them! He`s doing well now for his age isn`t he? No, don`t be silly this was the Chelsea star`s father.
By the end of the 1975-76 season, they would be a struggling side finishing in 18th spot with just two seasons to go until they would be ultimately relegated. Their season though did have a bright spot after they reached the final of the UEFA Cup Winners Cup but they lost the match 4-2 to Anderlecht.
All that was yet to come though as the Clarets faced up to the Hammers at Upton Park in the third game of the season.
Games against West Ham back then were always entertaining and usually involved a large number of goals and this one would prove no different with both teams playing an open, attacking game.
The Clarets eager for their first win of the season lined up as follows in front of a crowd of 27057:
Stevenson, Docherty, Newton, Noble, Waldron, Thomson, Flynn, Hankin, Summerbee, Collins, James Sub: Morgan (who eventually came on for Collins)
There were to be five goals in this exciting game but sadly for the Clarets, it was West Ham who got three of them and we came away with a 3-2 defeat. The Clarets had taken the lead after 31 minutes thanks to a goal by Leighton James before West Ham equalised in the second half on the hour mark. Burnley came back strongly and within four minutes we had re-taken the lead thanks to a Noble goal.
Two late Hammers goals within three minutes of each other though in the 77th and 80th minute did the damage leaving the Clarets still without a win. They were now languishing in 15th Place but it was still early days.
The game can best be summed up by Burnley manager, Jimmy Adamson's notes in the next home game programme.
"I rate this as one of our best away performances for years by a Burnley team, yet there we were walking off with a 3-2 defeat. We were well on top for more than an hour, scored two goals, hit the bar and had five shots cleared from the line. Defeat in those circumstances just has to be rough justice but let me say that if we have to lose there is no club I would sooner go down to than West Ham. I have always admired their play and spirit behind their play. They have always like ourselves put an emphasis on the arts and crafts of the game. Good luck to Ron Greenwood, John Lyall and the players at Upton Park-but we`ll be out to get our revenge in the return match!"
Although this was not going to be our season and of course we would be ultimately relegated there was at least some good news in the return match at Turf Moor played on Saturday 13th December 1975 when Jimmy Adamson`s hope for revenge came true. Jimmy`s days were actually numbered and he would be replaced by Joe Brown at the end of the month but for the moment he could savour a rare win with the Clarets coming out on top and winning 2-0 in front of a crowd of 14942 fans.
The team that day was as follows:
Peyton, Docherty, Newton, Ingham, Waldron, Thomson, Summerbee, Kennerley, Hankin, Flynn, Bradshaw Sub: Casper (Did not get on!)
Ray Harkin scored after just 19 minutes and 21 year old, Kevin Kennerley would make it 2-0 after 35 minutes.
Jimmy Adamson, in what would turn out to be his last notes in a Burnley programme wrote on Boxing Day:
"It was even more pleasing to defeat FA Cup holders, West Ham United last Saturday when we again completed 90 minutes without letting in a goal. Every single player pulled his weight in our thoroughly deserved 2-0 win over West Ham, and I must make a special mention of the very full contributions made in difficult circumstances by new boys, Gerry Peyton, Paul Bradshaw and Kevin Kennerley. Well done!"
Kevin Kennerley(above)is not a name that most Clarets fans will remember. The midfielder signed for the Clarets in 1972 after a spell with Arsenal`s youth team in which he helped the Gunners win the FA Youth Cup. He was to play just six games for the Clarets between Dec 75 and Jan 76. He had a baptism of fire in his debut against the mighty Liverpool in the previous game before facing up to the Hammers and scoring. That goal was to be his only one in the first team for the Clarets and at the end of the season he would be released. He never really made it after that. He joined Port Vale in May 1976 and spent two years with the club which also included a loan spell at Swansea in February 1978. Kennerley though could not break through into the Port Vale first team and he was released in May 1978. He then drifted into non-league football with spells at Stafford Rangers, Nantwich Town and Droylsden.
The victory against West Ham at home changed very little though in terms of our league position but we were now 19th and finally out of the bottom three although sadly it wasn`t going to last long.
In Part 4 of Back to the Future
we will concentrate on our games against Ipswich Town who back then were a strong side and one that would finish 6th in the First Division by the end of 1975-6.