FLASHBACK: Fans recall the fateful day their club survived
I headed over early on Saturday, wearing my lucky BFC sweater, and with the original scarf my old man had given me at my first game in 1965.
I parked up somewhere around Haven Street – thinking it could be the very last time I ever did that, that this could really be the last time at the Turf to see the Clarets. I couldn’t work up the enthusiasm to have a beer or to track down old pals, I felt sick in my stomach and wandered around. I found a programme, and went on the Longside earlier than I had done in years.
I remember recognising people I had not seen in a long time, then the wall of noise and crush of swaying Clarets gradually increased, with the tension. I saw people with objects including handcuffs, a screwdriver – a lad who still is one of my best friends was discussing the cut-off point for getting the match abandoned if we were not winning, a wild look in his eyes, and wonderied how I would react if that situation arose. If ever a crowd won a game for a team, this was it, but I knew the match would not finish that day if the results did not go our way.
I don’t think my voice has ever fully recovered. From the match amid the seething mass of Clarets on the Longside, I had a great view of Neil Grewcock’s opener heading for the corner of the net; I remember the second going in, but had no idea who had scored; I recall the chill down my spine when Orient pulled one back. All kinds of rumours of other scores were going round – then the confirmation that Lincoln had lost, and the chant of “Lincoln lost” going up.
There was one moment I recall thinking “Oh no” when an Orient player had a good shooting chance late on, and an unbelievable feeling at the final whistle. I went with the flow of Clarets onto the pitch. I just sat in the center circle and could not stop the tears flowing, big wracking sobs. I looked up to the sky and shouted something like “We survived, Dad” as I thought of what my late dad, who had watched us become champions, and had been with me at the Turf on European nights, would have made of it all. Never forget May 9th, 1987.
Oh, and that battered old scarf my old man gave me for my first match on October 23rd, 1965, when we beat Sheffield United, also made it to Wembley in 2009 for the play-off victory. And I still have that BFC sweater I wore at the Orient game - it is now part of my Clarets mementos.
Lorne Hayhurst, New Jersey
AS a 14-year-old football mad kid in 1986, all I ever wanted to do was get close to my heroes at Turf Moor. Being a tricky winger myself, those heroes at the time were Leighton James, Neil Grewcock and Ashley Hoskin. How could I get close to them, whilst also earning a bit of extra pocket money to buy my packets of football stickers? I applied to become a programme seller and was lucky to be offered a job.
The payscale at the time was around 3p per programme sold which was hardly going to make me my first million, but it also offered free entrance to every home game.
So to “The Orient Game.” I think every man, woman and child came to Turf Moor that day to watch a club die and everybody wanted to make a killing on a supposed collectors item programme. I remember being told by my boss Pat that they were expecting a bigger crowd than normal, and that a member of the office staff would check how I was doing and if I had sold out they would arrange for some more programmes to be given to me. So, there I was stood in my little wooden box in the bowels of the Cricket Field stand at around 1-30 p.m., nervous as hell anticipating a little bit of a rush. About 30 minutes later, and with people buying dozens in one go, and queues forming and tempers fraying a little, my stock was gone. My Claret and Blue jacket pockets were bulging with loose change and I feared for my safety at the time. The steward radioed through to the office and I was told to stay where I was and somebody would be with me shortly to replenish my stock.
Fifteen minutes passed and no more programmes materialised.
With the help of the steward I was escorted out of my box and headed back to the office, amidst cries of “typical Burnley, not printed enough programmes.”
Being stuck in my box, I wasn’t totally aware of the atmosphere building inside the ground, however, as I walked around the pitch back to the office, the tension was palpable.
On returning to the office, I was eventually given some more programmes, I think maybe 20 or so, but was told to go into the no-man’s land between the opposing fans on the Longside, but was only to sell to the away fans, presumably for my own safety. These were then snapped up within a matter of minutes.
Normally, after finishing my shift, and after pocketing my commission, I would then be able to wander through the Bee Hole terrace to be allowed through a gate into a sparsely-populated Longside.
Not on this occasion though, as the Longside was full to the rafters.
However, this meant that I was able to stand with my now late-father, who was attending his first game that season, and my brother, who happened to work in the refreshment kiosk, to enjoy and endure the 90 minutes of action.
As we all know, the outcome was a good one with Burnley beating Orient 2-1, and rather than the crowd seeing a great club die, they witnessed the re-awakening of a sleeping giant.
I’m not sure what the people did with the dozen programmes they bought, but I bet if you look on e-bay there will be one floating around somewhere, it could well be one that I sold on that incredible day!