Following plenty of speculation the amazing news broke from Turf Moor that Paul Gascoigne, “the clown prince of English football” had signed for the Clarets.
Manager Stan Ternent’s original approach to Everton had apparently been rejected out of hand by Goodison manager Walter Smith, but following Smith’s departure, his replacement, former Preston boss David Moyes, had agreed to terminate Gazza’s contract.
However Moyes, appointed at Everton just two days earlier, had managed to delay his decision long enough to prevent Gascoigne signing for Burnley in time to play against North End in the televised Sunday game on the 17th.
In the event the Clarets came out on top in that clash, winning 2-1 thanks to a debut goal and an assist from Stan’s other signing that week, Jamaican David Johnson, on loan from Nottingham Forest.
Before the Preston match Gazza was introduced to the Turf Moor crowd who, not surprisingly, gave him a rapturous welcome.
They were remembering with some anticipation the impact which Stan’s previous major coup, the signing of Ian Wright, had had at Turf Moor just two years earlier.
Sadly, although the Burnley fans willed him to be a success, the Turf Moor experience never quite worked for Paul Gascoigne.
Although at 34 he was two years younger than Wright had been when he had arrived in 2000, Gazza failed to make a real impact.
He made six appearances in the final seven games of the season, including three starts, but never played a full 90 minutes, and never found the net for the Clarets.
After the Preston match Burnley were in fourth position and looking good for the play-offs, but they only won one of the next six games, the one that Gascoigne didn’t play in.
That left the Clarets needing to beat Coventry City at Turf Moor in the final match of the season to reach the play-offs but they also they had to at least match Norwich City’s score against Stockport County at Carrow Road.
Burnley huffed and puffed, without Gascoigne, but it was still 0-0 when news came through that Norwich led 1-0.
On came sub Gareth Taylor and on 67 minutes made it 1-0, so far so good. A few minutes later however, there was news of another goal for Norwich and the Clarets needed to score at least one more.
With eight minutes left Paul Gascoigne was at last introduced, replacing Ian Moore, and the fans knew it was now or never.
Into stoppage time it was still 1-0 when the Clarets were awarded a free-kick.
It was classic Gascoigne territory, was it to be a classic Gascoigne goal? It was not to be, Coventry keeper Magnus Hedman produced a fabulous save to turn the ball away.
Incredibly, within a minute Burnley won another free kick from a similar position. Once again Gascoigne lined it up, once again Clarets fans looked on in expectation, but once again Hedman kept it out with another masterful save. The play-off dream was over.
The Turf Moor crowd knew they had seen the last of the great Paul Gascoigne in a Burnley shirt. At his peak he had been a true legend of the game, and despite their disappointment they gave him a generous send-off.