The Clarets replaced the Bantams at the top of Division One, after a thrilling 3-2 victory against Bradford City at Valley Parade. It was the first time Burnley had been at the summit of the league since promotion in 2000, and the club’s loftiest league position since 1976.
All the goals in this Sunday afternoon fixture came after the interval, with Burnley taking the lead three times, man of the match Glen Little hitting the visitors’ first two goals. City hit back twice only for 36 year old sub Tony Ellis to slot home the winner just five minutes from time. It was Ellis’s only goal during his one season with the Clarets, and it was also the final league goal of a career in which he made more than 600 senior appearances.
Bradford City’s substitute in this match made less of an impression than Tony Ellis, but in the coming years he was to have a huge impact at Turf Moor after his transfer to Burnley just four months later. The name of that substitute, on that Sunday 14 years ago, was Robbie Blake.
Burnley team (442):
Nik Michopoulos, Dean West, Steve Davis, Gordon Armstrong, Lee Briscoe,
Glen Little, Paul Cook, Kevin Ball, Alan Moore, Ian Moore (Tony Ellis), Paul Weller.
Burnley were beaten 2-0 at St Andrew’s by Birmingham (not Birmingham City until 1943). The clash was the first away match of the season, following a 1-1 draw with Coventry City at Turf Moor on the opening day of the new Second Division campaign the previous Saturday.
Burnley team (235):
Ted Adams, Alick Robinson, Jack Marshall, Tommy Gardner, Arthur Woodruff, George Bray,
Jack Hays, Bob Brocklebank, James Clayton, Jack Dryden, Ronnie Hornby.
However events elsewhere in the days before and after this match were to have a devastating effect, reaching far beyond the football world.
In the early morning of the previous day Adolf Hitler’s forces had invaded Poland. Then at 11am the following day came the announcement from Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain that “This country is now at war with Germany”
League football was immediately suspended and the matches already played, three by some clubs, two by others, including Burnley, were expunged from league records. They would forever be classified as “other” matches.
Although organised football, in the various wartime leagues, did start again quite soon, all players’ contracts had been cancelled, and the Football League itself did not recommence until the last day of August 1946. Many players were never to appear in league football again, and others lost seven years of their careers. Of course other men, other families, lost much more.
What of the members of that Burnley team, on that day 76 years ago?
Arthur Woodruff and George Bray both became stalwarts of Burnley’s promotion and FA Cup final team of 1946-47. Their Turf Moor careers both lasted on into the fifties and they appeared in more than 500 games for the Clarets between them.
Jack Hays also featured in that 1946-47 campaign, and went on to make more than 150 Burnley appearances. Jack Marshall and Ronnie Hornby both appeared briefly for the Clarets after the war.
Of the other players, Tommy Gardner had a season with Wrexham, but Ted Adams, Jack Dryden, Alick Robinson, Bob Brocklebank and James Clayton never played league football again.