Snow may stop play today but Burnley FC once played a vital game in the 1940s when the pitch was sheet ice / Dave Thomas
There were four of us but how could we grumble? Others had travelled from Cornwall, Edinburgh, the Borders, Essex and London. Two Spurs supporters had flown over from New Jersey, USA. They put it on Facebook and Twitter and I hope the club noticed and got in touch.
Roy Oldfield, in his book about his time as Burnley groundsmen, wrote several times about playing in snow and preparing the pitch, shifting the snow, marking the lines in blue, with on one occasion chairman John Jackson driving the borrowed dumper truck.
There was one game he wrote about where the snow and cold came so suddenly, so intensely, so viciously, that players by the end of the game had to be helped off the pitch and into the hot bath with their kit still on, it was frozen to them.
As a kid at school, snow never bothered us in the games session when we clattered or slid down Ferney Lee Road from school in our boots and kit to the local park that on some days was six inches deep in snow. We were ‘ard in Tod, as were all the players before the Premier League arrived, along with gloves and snoods.
A bit of snow and ice, what was that? Wasn’t there a Cup game at Burnley in the 40s on the way to the Cup Final, when the pitch was made of solid ice?
But now, today, it’s a different kettle of fish with health and safety rules and regs around every corner along with “concerns for player safety.”
And thus, so it was with the Spurs game. It was called off with less than an hour to kick-off as the snow billowed down covering the pitch as fast as the staff could shovel and shove it away. Alan Pace was out there, bless him. Frank Teasdale once did the same.
By this time the contingent from Leeds had already turned round and were heading back home, ten minutes before the news came that the game was off.
The undersoil had been on since Wednesday said Dyche but it doesn’t cope with fast falling snow.
Spurs supporters were less than convinced. Don’t they have electricity in Burnley, they grumbled. Conspiracy theories abounded. They’ve got six players injured, no wonder they didn’t want to play, was one of them.
The officials emerged dressed up warm and snug, ready for an arctic expedition in the blizzard, to discuss the problems; but out came Dyche with them as the snow fell. But wait, we looked and stared at the pics; he was in shirt sleeves, no overcoat, not even a jacket, clearly impervious to the cold and snow.
Here was a man unafraid of snowflakes.
Jim White in The Telegraph, always worth a read, described it perfectly. ‘There was no pandering to the elements from the Premier League’s principal Proper Football Man (PFM) as he pushed back the tide of wimpishness.'
So, wrote Jim White, Dyche appeared as if he were wandering out for a summer garden party when the gentlemen are allowed to remove their blazers and then sip Pimms.
But (me writing now), here’s the spooky bit, the Marvel comic, superhero bit. Whilst snow settled on the officials he was with, on their heads, hoods, snoods and coats, and they slowly turned into snowmen, nothing, not a single snowflake adhered to or settled on our Sean. His shirt remained pristine, his polished shoes remained burnished, the crease in his trousers that could slice bacon remained.
Guardiola in Manchester had one of those Wenger type long coats on, and even had a snood. A SNOOD for heaven’s sake! Banned by Dyche at the training ground.
And then I read about Gundogan also at Manchester City where there was just a teeny weeny snittering of snow.
After his game he revealed that, “Every four or five seconds I was getting snowflakes in my eyes. It was tough out there.”
He’d never get a game for SD, that’s for sure.