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On This Day - January 6

6 January 2016


Aston Villa 0-3 Burnley

The Clarets had been sitting proudly at the top of Division Two for three months when they travelled to Villa Park on this day 43 years ago.

Although Burnley had won the previous league visit 1-0 in 1967, Villa Park had traditionally been a bogey ground and there had been only two other league victories there in the post war era.

In 1973 however it was a different story as the Clarets simply oozed class with an emphatic victory, completing a league double over Villa and cementing their position at the top.

The biggest league crowd to watch Burnley during that campaign, almost 39,000, saw the Clarets utterly outclass their opponents, who themselves were among the promotion favourites and eventually finished third.

Keith Newton opened the scoring after just seven minutes when Billy Ingham, in for the suspended Doug Collins, pushed a free kick to him just outside the penalty area.

Newton hit a left foot volley, that Villa keeper Cumbes could only help into the net, for his first goal for the Clarets.

On 23 minutes it was 2-0 when Frank Casper delivered a cross to the far post following a neat move down the right. Paul Fletcher rose above the defence to nod the ball down for Geoff Nulty, who scored with a crisp half-volley.

Three minutes into the second half it was game over when a poor clearance gave Leighton James a half chance.

James miss-hit his shot across goal but there was Billy Ingham, who latched on to it and found the net in style, scoring his own first Clarets’ goal.

Former Turf Moor hero Andy Lochhead and his colleagues got little change out of the Burnley defence and at the final whistle Burnley had more than proved their credentials, if any proof were necessary.

The Burnley Express headline in their match report was “Who can stop Burnley now?”

Who indeed could stop the Second Division Champions-elect?

Burnley team (235):
Alan Stevenson, Mick Docherty, Keith Newton, Martin Dobson, Colin Waldron, Jim Thomson,
Geoff Nulty, Frank Casper, Paul Fletcher, Billy Ingham, Leighton James.


Today is the anniversary of the passing, aged 64, of one of Burnley’s most durable defenders during the 1930’s, centre half George Bellis.

George was born in 1904 into a British Army family when his father, an NCO in the Royal Engineers, was stationed in India.

After his family moved back to Liverpool, Bellis began his amateur football career on Merseyside, before signing for Southport as a professional in 1923 at the age of 19.

He later joined Wrexham, then in 1929 he was transferred to Wolves, at that time in Division Two but on their way to promotion.

He was signed by Burnley in 1932 to fill the Clarets’ centre half berth that had been a problem position for some time, and made his debut in a 2-0 win against Southampton at Turf Moor.

Also making his debut, alongside Bellis in the Burnley defence, was Ray Bennion, newly arrived from Manchester United, and the two newcomers featured alongside each other for much of the remainder of the season.

George Bellis was a versatile player and also featured at wing half and at full back in his time at Burnley, during which he played 91 league and FA Cup games. In 1935 he signed for Bournemouth where he ended his Football League career.

George Bellis was one of only three players born outside the United Kingdom and Ireland to appear in League football for Burnley in the period from 1888, when the Football League was established, until 1996.

He is still the only Burnley player ever to appear in the senior side having been born on the Indian sub-continent.

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