FOR some this latest column will recrudesce fond memories, though for others it will only serve as a reminiscent nightmare.
The date was September 10th, 1955, and the event was a Burnley and District Football League youth fixture between Sandygate YC and Burnley Boys’ Brigade.
In terms of professional football matches, domestically and internationally, and record-breaking scores, both Arbroath and Australia have set the benchmark.
The former thrashed Bon Accord 36-0 in a Scottish Cup match on September 12th, 1885, while Australia beat American Samoa 31-0 in a FIFA 2002 World Cup qualifying match on April 11th, 2001, in Coffs Harbour. Archie Thompson scored 13 goals on that day!
Those landmarks were considerably bettered when Madagascan league champions AS Adema beat opponents Stade Olympique L’Emyrne 149-0 - though by all accounts that was an incident fuelled by a bizarre protest from the losing side who continuously knocked the ball into their own net!
But back to the local football scene, and Sandygate YC entered the Guinness Book of Records with a resounding 53-0 triumph over the Rosegrove Methodist side. Roy Swift scored 14 goals on this occasion.
The match took place at Lower Towneley, and totalled 40 minutes each half. The score at the interval was 27-0, when goalkeeper Jack Preston and right-winger Stuart Houghton changed positions.
The scoreline made national news, while Preston made a guest appearance on BBC’s ‘Sportsview’.
Commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme introduced the young goalkeeper to experienced stopper Sam Bartram, who had clocked up 21 years at the time with Charlton Athletic, and had played in the Addicks side that beat Burnley 1-0 in the 1947 FA Cup final.
The Burnley Express, led by sports duo Peter Higgs and Bert Rogerson, recalled the event 25 years later as the two sides met up again.
In the February 22nd, 1980, edition, Preston recalled: “The fact was that the Brigade side were only 13 and 14-year-old boys except for two or three (none of them were more than 16). We were playing a team of lads, all of whom were two or three years older.
“The young Brigade boys were playing for the love of the game and were matched week after week against teams who were in it for medals.”
In 1955 the Express, in a talking point column entitled ‘That 53-0 win!’, reported: “This is, of course, a Youth League record, and one hopes that it will never be equalled or even approached.
“The first Burnley BB will need to strengthen their team considerably if they are to avoid further heavy defeats, and though their sportsmanship is unquestioned, continued heavy defeats will dishearten the players.”
Two weeks later Sandygate YC went on to put 19 goals against Towneley YC, which brought their tally to a staggering 95 goals in four games, conceding just three.
Ken Tomlinson, Burnley BB manager on the day of the 53-0 defeat, said: “Somewhere along the line it made the national press.
“I still remember that day but it didn’t put me off - I eventually retired from Burnley BB in 1991.
“We never won any trophies, in fact we never won many matches.
“The thing that stands out about that day is the way that our boys kept going.
“They never packed up and just kept going to the end.
“I think Roy Swift scored 14 for them.
“It was a long time ago but you never forget a day like that.”
The teams were:
Sandygate: Williams, Birks, Greenwood, Glasgow, Walsh, Monk, Hope, Neville, Ormerod, Swift, Bibby. Res: Wilkins, Harrison.
Burnley BB: Preston, Pearson, Line, Doyle, Titherington, Whitehead, Houghton, Briggs, Hunt, Taylor, Parkinson.
Tom Martin, who spent 35 years as results and fixtures secretary of the Burnley and District Football League from 1965, said: “I spent 15 years as fixtures secretary and 20 years as results secretary, and in that time I don’t recall a scoreline coming anywhere near that.”