BURNLEY FC hero Roger Eli chats to sports reporter Daniel Black about his time at Turf Moor - and the day, 20 years ago, when Burnley clinched the Fourth Division championship with an iconic 2-1 victory at York.
It was a moment that thgousands will always remember, though for Clarets cult hero Roger Eli it will do so for varying reasons. The striker’s 17 goals in that campaign had helped propel Burnley to success, but a knee injury brought a premature end to his season and he had to watch the remaining five fixtures from the sidelines.
“I was at the ground,” said Eli. “I drove up myself and followed the coach. We met just outside Wakefield at a hotel. To see the amount of supporters around the place was incredible and you sensed that something big was going to happen. We didn’t do it at Carlisle but you just knew that this could be the time and the place where it went crazy and it did.”
However, the injury didn’t thwart his inclusion in post-match celebrations. Champagne and beer was hosed throughout the dressing room, choruses of ‘Jimmy Mullen’s Claret and Blue Army’ were sung well in to the night, before Mullen was dumped in to the bath fully clothed. “It was just absolutely ridiculous. Everybody was so jubilant, it was amazing. I remember when Jimmy got thrown in to the bath by some of the lads. You see it now when clubs win the Premier League and other divisions, the feeling is just the same. It was a fantastic atmosphere.”
The popular striker, with the help of Clarets fan Dave Thomas, has now released a book entitled ‘Thanks for the Memories’. It’s a book charting the highs and lows of his career, his experiences, life in general, it encounters the crossroads we meet, decisions and his influences. It’s a story of struggle, determination and bravery but also many happy memories.
“My book is basically about my time coming through as a player from the age of 16 right up until leaving Burnley, the championship season, bits about racism and about my injuries,” said Eli. “It’s gone well. It’s something I never envisaged doing although I had bits written down. I put it to Dave and it’s just spiralled from there. I’m very happy with it.”
Eli added: “I wouldn’t change any experience from my time in the game, apart from the injuries. I set out to be a professional footballer, I got to do that, and I still get to interact with supporters so it’s a dream for me really. I’m quite pleased with what I’ve done.”
Thanks for the Memories is available from bookshops, internet retailers, the Burnley FC Clarets Store and www.verticaleditions.com.
We have two copies to give away, and for a chance to win one, send your answer to the following question to firstname.lastname@example.org by next Friday, May 4th.
With which club did Eli start his professional career? A) Leeds United, B) Bradford City or C) Nottingham Forest?