From The Sunday Times
May 2, 2004
Caught in Time: Burnley return to the First Division, 1973-74
Greg Struthers

Burnley needed a draw at local rivals Preston on the final day of the season to win the Second Division title in 1973. It had been a nip-and-tuck battle for the championship with Queens Park Rangers. And Preston had their own worries: they needed a point to stay clear of relegation.

“We froze on the day,” recalls Colin Waldron, the Burnley central defender. “We didn’t play well, and they took the lead shortly before half-time.” With 25 minutes remaining, Waldron equalised with a long-range volley. “It was with my left foot, so it could have gone anywhere,” he says. “They attacked immediately after the equaliser and should have scored. We got a big fright, so out on the pitch we said to them, ‘If you don’ t come near us, we won’t come near you’. The rest of the game was played out on the flanks.” Preston stayed up and the Clarets went marching back into the big time with a side built on team spirit and camaraderie.

Jimmy Adamson, the Burnley manager, had labelled his charges the “Team of the Seventies” and, although they never lived up to the billing, they had the talent to match the best. But like those before him, he was forced to sell his best players to make ends meet. “When we went up,” says Waldron, “we sold three players and QPR bought three players.”

1 Geoff Nulty A midfielder who joined Burnley from the Stoke City juniors in the summer of 1968 and played in 130 League games in a six-year stint. He was also at Newcastle and Everton, and owns a couple of retail outlets in his native Prescot. “He owns half of Prescot,” says Waldron
2 Billy Ingham One of the conveyor belt of young players who graduated from the Burnley youth side, the midfielder enjoyed 11 seasons at Turf Moor, playing in 211 League outings. His boots were cleaned by Trevor Steven, who went on to play for England. Ingham ended his career at Bradford and is a driver for the Burnley and Pendle Bus Company
3 Doug Collins A quick midfielder with a strong left foot and tireless energy, he was plucked from Fourth Division Grimsby for £20,000 in September 1968 after catching the eye in a League Cup game against Burnley. But he did not have a happy time under manager Harry Potts, and things took a turn for the better only when Adamson was in charge. Collins also played for Plymouth, Sunderland, Rochdale and Tulsa in America. He runs a McDonald’s restaurant in the resort town of Nowra in southern New South Wales in Australia
4 Peter Noble He was trying to bang in goals for Second Division Swindon while Burnley were marching towards the title, and, at the age of 28, thought he would see out his days as a striker in the West Country. But his life changed in the summer of 1973 when Burnley bought him for £40,000 for the new campaign in the top division. He came on as an emergency full-back in his debut match and soon became a permanent fixture in the Burnley defence. Noble, who also played for Newcastle and Blackpool in a 17-year career, has retired after running his sports stall in Burnley market
5 Keith Newton A solid left-back for England, Newton was an astute Adamson signing in June 1972 when he joined on a free transfer from Everton. He had won 26 England caps, and at the age of 32, was the wise head needed in a young team. Newton played 209 games for Burnley. After retiring, he set up a sports trophy business and a newsagents in Blackburn, then worked for Vauxhall motors. He died at the age of 56 in 1998
6 Jim Thomson A £40,000 signing from Chelsea in 1968, Thomson was played out of position at right-back rather than a left-sided central defender, and was only a fringe player in his first four years. But in the title-winning season he linked up with Waldron at the heart of the defence. Thomson played in 297 League games for Burnley and later became commercial manager at the club when there was little money in the kitty. He was a sales executive with Ben Shaw’s soft drinks company in huddersfield and is now a sales manager for the Scottish Courage brewery
7 Alan Stevenson Burnley were experiencing a goalkeeping crisis when Adamson forked out £50,000 to Chesterfield to solve his problem. Stevenson made the No 1 jersey his own for nearly 11 years. He added stability at the back in 438 games, one short of the club record. The closest he came to international honours was sitting on the England bench in a game against Portugal. He was commercial manager at Hartlepool United and is now with Coventry City
8 Colin Waldron A £30,000 purchase from Chelsea in 1967, Waldron was one of six ever-presents in the championship-winning side. “It was the only season I was not suspended,” he says. A solid central defender, he enjoyed nine years with the club, playing in 308 League matches. He was also at Manchester United and Sunderland. When his career ended, he opened a bookmaker’s shop in Nelson, which he has run for 25 years
9 Ray Hankin The then 17-year-old forward played in only one game as a substitute, but was a prime example of the excellent youth system at the club. Plucked from the north-east, Hankin spent three years at Burnley, scoring 37 goals in 110 games. He then moved to Leeds, where he maintained his prolific scoring record, and played for Middlesbrough, Peterborough and Wolves. He is a Football in the Community officer at Newcastle United
10 Mick Docherty The son of the famous manager Tommy, Mick forged a football career in his own right. He joined Burnley as an apprentice in 1967 and spent nine years there, strengthening the defence. He had a season at Manchester City, played for Sunderland and then went into coaching and management. He is the assistant manager and first-team coach at Burnley
11 Paul Fletcher A striker with a head for goals, Fletcher was the leading scorer in Burnley’s title-winning season. He scored 15 times as the Clarets hit 72 goals in the season. Fletcher was a club record £60,000 purchase from Bolton in early 1971, and his ability in the air nearly won him England honours. He spent nine years at Turf Moor, then moved to Blackpool, where a broken leg ended his career. He is involved in stadium development and corporate hospitality, and credits the benefits of teamwork he learnt at Burnley for many of his achievements. Fletcher masterminded the development of Huddersfield’s McAlpine stadium and Bolton’s Reebok stadium, and is involved in the 32,500-seat stadium being built for Coventry City
12 Martin Dobson Given a free transfer by Bolton as a teenager, Dobson was among a cluster of players who joined Burnley in 1967. A dominating player in midfield with an eye for goal, the Burnley captain scored 12 goals in the title-winning campaign. He won five caps for England and had a successful career at Everton before returning to Burnley. He then went into management, and scouts for Ipswich and writes a column for the Lancashire Evening Telegraph
13 Frank Casper In the summer of 1967 Burnley spent £30,000 to bring Casper to Turf Moor from Rotherham. It was the first time they had bought a player since signing Alex Elder in the late 1950s. Casper scored 74 goals in 237 games and formed a productive strike partnership with Fletcher. A tackle by Norman Hunter, of Leeds, virtually put paid to his playing career, and he went into management, taking charge of Burnley for three seasons from 1989. He worked for a sportswear company and is a director for a company providing consultancy in sports commercial and sales ventures
14 Leighton James There have been a few Welsh wizards in their time, and James made a name for himself on the left wing for Burnley in three spells for the club. He played more than 300 games for the Clarets and for Derby, QPR, Sunderland and Swansea. He won 54 caps for Wales and his management career saw him in charge at Swansea. He coaches juniors in Gorseinon in south Wales and helps the Welsh FA

Division Two Championship 1973
Charity Shield winners 1973