"He remembered me being one of the boys at the back of the bus shouting, giving people stick, and he said he was frightened to death!" - Frank Sinclair on meeting Burnley boss Sean Dyche

Former Claret Frank Sinclair is one of a long list of admirers of the job Sean Dyche has done at Turf Moor.

Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 8:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 5:18 pm
Frank Sinclair challenges Kevin Campbell

But he recalls the time Dyche was "frightened to death" of the defender, back when the pair lined up in the same Chelsea youth side!

The former Burnley skipper, who had been helping out with first team training at Port Vale, working with the back four before lockdown, having left Radcliffe in January, has been back at Gawthorpe - and the state of the art Barnfield Training Centre - shadowing Dyche and his staff.

And Dyche reminded him of the first time they met, as he went on trial with Chelsea as a youngster, where Sinclair was coming through the ranks in the mid to late 1980s.

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The pair were both born in 1971, but Dyche was in the year above as a footballer, and Sinclair smiled: "Me and the manager were having a conversation in his office, and he made me aware of something I didn't even know.

"He was a young lad on trial at Chelsea, year above me I believe, and we played in the same schoolboy team a couple of times.

"He told me about a journey to a game in a mini bus, he was obviously this shy kid from in and around Nottingham, and he came down to London and had all these Cockney boys around him full of themselves!

"He remembered me being one of the boys at the back of the bus shouting, giving people stick, and he said he was frightened to death!

"A good friend of his, Damian Matthew, who I ended up being a young professional with, was someone he was coming in with.

"I wasn't even aware of it.

"He told me he was a ball-playing midfielder, so he certainly changed with age!"

Sinclair is now the one listening to what Dyche has to say, picking up pointers to use on his own coaching journey.

And he is very grateful for the invitation: "I was in the training ground a few weeks before lockdown, just shadowing the manager. Sean was brilliant enough to let me come in.

"It's the second or third time I've been in, I came in last season and shadowed Steve Stone with the Under 23s a couple of times, and built up a little bit of a relationship with the staff.

"And then this season I spoke to Sean because he told me to ask if I wanted to come back in, and I was between jobs after leaving Radcliffe.

"I came in and spent an hour with the manager talking football in his office before we went out training, just touching base with the stuff he does at the club, the players' routines, what they like to do...it's something I've done quite a lot at a few different clubs, just looking at how different people do things.

"You can always pick up different ideas off people and make them your own, just tweak them to suit yourself.

"I was with Sean most of the day, had lunch afterwards and he said to me, any time you want to come back..."

He obviously doesn't want to reveal any of the coaching secrets Dyche divulged, but Sinclair was impressed with what he saw: "There's a few things he shared with me I won't really go into, but we spoke about a lot of stuff, the ethics of the club, the type of players he wants to work with - and if they're not like a Burnley player when they come in, they very quickly become one because of the environment they're in.

"Some of the players lead it as well, which makes it easier for the coaching staff, when you have players who know how to deal with players who are new to the club, acclimatising to the way Burnley do things.

"But he's very regimental in the way he does stuff, very aware of his relationships with his players, and he's a typical hard-working man who's worked his way up through the leagues to get to where he did as a player, and he's taken that into his management ethics as well.

"I have nothing but admiration for him, the length of time he's been there is remarkable, and keeping them at that level as well."

When Sinclair was at Burnley, from 2004 to 2007, Gawthorpe - which had been the first purpose-built training ground in the country - had not moved with the times, and players changed at Turf Moor, before driving there in their cars.

He remembered: "It's a massive change from when I was there, we just had that one pitch at the top, that was the one decent pitch, with the youth team over the other side.

"The first time I came in to see it was when I was doing my youth modules, and I was just amazed, how much it had pushed on.

"We used to get changed at the ground, either run to the training ground if you needed a bit of extra fitness, or get in the car, drive back and get a shower at the stadium!

"No food at the training ground, anything like that, so the club has obviously moved on to where it should be, with being a Premier League club, you need Premier League facilities, and they certainly have that."