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A Keane Rivalry

2 December 2015

Club historian Ray Simpson eyes another piece of quirky history...

Saturday’s Lancashire derby at Turf Moor throws up the prospect of the Keane twins appearing against each other.

And if Burnley’s Michael and his twin, Preston’s Will, both make an appearance, it will be a little bit of club history, as the first occasion when a Burnley player has faced his twin in action.

The only other instance we can find of twins being on the same pitch ‘together’ at a Burnley match was 24 November, 1990, when the Clarets beat Halifax Town 2-1 in a Fourth Division encounter at Turf Moor.

The twins concerned that day were Burnley’s Ron Futcher and his twin brother Paul.

Sadly, although they were indeed on the pitch together in the pre-match warm-up, Paul played the full match for the Shaymen, but manager Frank Casper chose to leave ‘Rocket Ron’ on the Burnley bench as an unused substitute!

In addition, there are a couple of post-war instances of brothers playing in opposition in Burnley matches. By a remarkable coincidence the opposition in 1953 was also Preston North End and the brothers in question were both goalkeepers, Burnley’s Des Thompson and his older brother George, of Preston.

The brothers faced each other no less than four times during the year 1953, twice over the Easter weekend and twice more on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, with two wins for George, one for Des and one draw.

In 1965, again at Christmas, Burnley’s Willie Irvine faced his brother Bobby, the Stoke City goalkeeper, also twice in successive days.

The Potters won the first encounter 3-1 at the Victoria Ground on the 27th, but 24 hours later, at Turf Moor, the Clarets got their revenge.

After Stoke went in front, it was Willie who equalised early in the second half with a tremendous 30 yard volley past his brother.

Further goals from Gordon Harris, Brian O’Neil and Arthur Bellamy gave Burnley a comfortable 4-1 win.

A feature on Michael and Will's sibling rivalry can be seen tonight (Wednesday) on Granada Reports, from 6pm.

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