Burnley great Steve Davis on promotion in 2000, Stan Ternent and Ian Wright

Steve Davis was the captain of Burnley’s promotion-winning side of 2000.

By Chris Boden
Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 12:30 pm
Steve Davis
Steve Davis

It was his third promotion with the club, coming just 18 months after returning to Turf Moor from Luton.

But admits he was worried his record-breaking return to was going to be scuppered.

Davis left Burnley after four years in 1995, joining Luton Town for a tribunal-set figure of £750,000 - a record sale for the Clarets at the time.

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However, three and a half years later, the prodigal son was back, with Burnley forking out the same fee.

Stan Ternent’s side, in his first season at the helm, were at the wrong end of the Second Division around Christmas 1998, having won one of their last eight league games.

Moves were afoot to bring the former skipper back to the club, but, with Ternent under pressure, not for the last time that season, Davis feared a change of manager might derail his return.

Davis said: “I’d sort of heard about it for a good five or six weeks beforehand, there’d been little bits of rumours.

“I always kept an eye on Burnley’s results, and they’d gone on a difficult run.

“I was thinking it might fall by the wayside because the manager might lose his job!

“But thankfully it all came off, I was delighted to come back and play under Stan - he was a big catalyst, he explained what he wanted and how he saw things moving forward.

“It was just nice to be part of it.”

Davis would captain the club to runners-up spot in the Second Division in May 2000.

And he relished his time working under Ternent.

Davis knew of Ternent, with both men discovered as players by the legendary scout Jack Hixon: “I didn’t know Stan. Through Jack Hixon, who had a hand in Stan coming to Burnley as well, I spoke to Jack - he kept in touch with all his lads and spoke to Stan.

“Between the three of us, we knew each other a little, but I didn’t know Stan properly.

“It was a bit of an eye-opener, but they were good times.

“Stan was the best manager I played under, bar none.

“He had a way, you in the press knew he had a way, but he knew what he wanted and how to get it.

“He was successful.

“You never quite knew what to expect when he walked in at half-time or full time, or on a Monday, or a Tuesday, any day of the week really!

“But that was one of the beauties of him, he kept you on your toes.

“We had an experienced team, with the type of players he brought in, and he let us, to a degree, manage the dressing room, but you always knew he was the manager.

“When it came to the crunch, he called the shots.

“Nowadays they call it man-management, which he was really good at.

“There was me, Cooky (Paul Cook), Jeppo (Ronnie Jepson), Gordon Armstrong, later on Gareth Taylor, some strong characters who all had their say, different ways of leading...Bally (Kevin Ball) came in as well, he would have bits and pieces to say. It sort of managed itself quite well.”

Burnley managed to pip Gillingham to second place on the final day of the season, winning 2-1 at Scunthorpe – the anniversary of which fell on Wednesday – while the Gills lost 1-0 at Wrexham, courtesy of a Mark McGregor screamer.

McGregor, ironically, would join the Clarets in the summer of 2001.

Davis recalled: “Gillingham had beaten us 3-0 at Turf, and they probably thought that was them up.

“We managed to go on a bit of run and win some games, culminating in the win at Scunthorpe, while Mark McGregor scored the winner for Wrexham against Gillingham - a piledriver.

“It was a great day.”

A big catalyst in promotion was the arrival of Ian Wright from Celtic on Valentine’s Day.

Wright went on to score four critical goals for the club – an equaliser at Gillingham, one against Reading at Turf Moor, an injury time winner – from a glorious Davis pass – at home to Notts County, and another on Easter Monday at Brentford.

Davis remembers a player, who had only earned the last of his 33 England caps two years earlier, who showed great humility and just got on with the job at hand: “Wrighty came just at the right time and obviously chipped in with a few important goals for us.

“The winner against Notts County was probably the biggest, one at Gillingham as well.

“But he was different class, in the dressing room.

“He gave every one a lift, great experience - he was exactly as you see on the telly.

“He was just one of the lads. Mitch (Mitchell Thomas) was there at the time – I was with Mitch at Luton as well, and he always talked about Wrighty, he was his best pal.

“If you get on with Mitch, you’re alright, and Wrighty was different class.

“Bearing in mind the career he’d had, and where he came from, he just mucked in and was one of the lads.”

While the Wright coup worked a treat, two years later, a similar capture, designed to help Burnley over the line in the race for the First Division play-offs, didn’t come off.

Ternent brought in Paul Gascoigne from Everton, but arguably the most gifted player of his generation was a shadow of his former self.

He almost wrote a remarkable story, as Burnley pushed for the goal they needed on the final day against Coventry at Turf Moor, to edge Norwich out of the play-off places.

Gascoigne came off the bench, but Magnus Hedman twice made saves from trademark free kicks.

Davis remembered: “It would have been a fairytale if Gazza had scored the free kick against Coventry to get us in the play-offs, but it just didn’t happen for us that year, or for Gazza.

“You could tell he had issues at that point, he wasn’t as you remember him, 1990 and all that, but still, in training, he showed glimpses.

“And off the pitch he was as mad as they come!

“He’d put something in the tea, or one day, I was the first one in, and he said him and Jimmy Five Bellies had eaten two chickens the night before, things like that.”I was thinking ‘alright, you had a good night did you?!’

“It was a great experience though.

“I’ll never forget Stan calling us into his office and Gazza was there.

“As skipper I introduced myself and shook his hand, and I’m thinking ‘wow, this is Paul Gascoigne’ - what a career he had.

“It was a bit surreal.”