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The Oldest Season Ticket In The World?

22 March 2013

Slice of history presented to the club

With season tickets for the 2013/14 season currently on sale, Burnley Football Club has just received what could be the oldest season ticket still in existence, anywhere in the world.

The ticket dates back to the 1884-85 season – only the third campaign after Burnley FC was founded in 1882 and still four years before the inception of the original Football League in 1888. 

The document, then referred to as a members’ card, is the oldest surviving season ticket issued by Burnley FC and has been presented to the club by Mr David Metcalfe, who now lives in Bristol.

David, born in Burnley and an old boy of Burnley Grammar School, left the area in 1973 but still follows his home town club from afar, attending Clarets’ matches when he can, particularly when fixtures take them to Bristol City and Bristol Rovers.

The members’ card was issued to David’s great grandfather, Leonard Metcalfe, (named on the card as Len Metcalf), who was actually a playing member of Burnley FC, first appearing at senior level for the club in 1883.

He played his early games as a winger but it was at left back that he became a regular in the team until 1885. 

It was in this position that he earned a winners’ medal, when Burnley beat local side Trinity FC at Turf Moor, to win the famous Hospital Cup in May 1884.

Leonard Metcalfe was born into a farming community near Bradford in 1865 and moved to Burnley as teenager, with his parents George and Mary. He worked as a weaver for many years and later became a manager within the cotton industry.

Season tickets for the 2013/14 season remain on sale at Turf Moor.
CLICK HERE for full details

Burnley FC 1884-85

After Burnley FC’s foundation as an association football club in 1882, fixtures for the first season, 1882-83, were all against sides from Lancashire.
The furthest distance the team travelled during that campaign was to Kirkham, a 2-0 victory for Burnley in December 1882.
During the following season, 1883-84, all but one of Burnley’s fixtures were again against Lancashire sides, with the longest trip being to Blackpool in October 1883. 

The 1884-85 campaign was perhaps the season that Burnley FC began to come of age and more and more fixtures were arranged with established senior clubs. In September 1884 Burnley travelled to play Bolton Wanderers for the first time and, although Bolton won 3-1, Burnley were by no means disgraced against a club who had been around since 1877 and were one of football’s biggest names.
A few weeks later Burnley’s visitors to Turf Moor for the first time were opponents who would become “the old enemy”, FA Cup holders Blackburn Rovers. Once again Burnley had to admit defeat, Rovers coming out on top 4-2, but the Turfites’ committee, and, especially the fans, were not despondent. They could all see that tremendous progress was being made.  
Over the New Year the Burnley Committee once again demonstrated that they were determined that more illustrious opponents should be invited to Turf Moor. Scottish clubs Cowlairs, Kilmarnock and Glasgow Northern all appeared in opposition to the Turfites with varying success for the locals. It was unfortunate that the matches coincided with a spell of arctic weather in the Burnley area and it appeared that many people preferred the attractions of the numerous local ponds that were frozen solid, providing a haven for ice skating enthusiasts.
At the end of March 1885, came a significant milestone along the Burnley FC road to success. Blackburn Rovers sent a full strength team to Turf Moor - and were soundly beaten 5-1, the first success by the Turfites against one of the strongest teams around at the time. It was certainly a morale booster for the players, the Burnley Committee and the supporters as another season drew to a close with the prospects of major changes ahead.

The big football news of the summer of 1885 was the formal acceptance by the Football Association of professionalism in football. It was finally ratified by the FA at a meeting in July, although there were certain conditions attached to the decision. Professionals could only play in the FA Cup and County FA competitions, if they had been born, or had resided for a minimum of two years, within six miles of their club’s ground. There were also rules preventing professional players playing for more than one club in a season without obtaining special permission, and all professional players had to be registered with the FA.

Ray Simpson
Burnley FC Historian & Archivist
March 2013

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