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Seventh Heaven For 'Away Day' Clarets

12 May 2016

When Burnley clinched the Football League Championship title at The Valley last weekend it was the seventh occasion that the club had won a divisional title.

And the latest title success followed the path of a surprising quirk of Burnley FC history.

Bizarrely, not a single one of Burnley’s titles have been secured at Turf Moor!

And as if to accentuate this historical oddity, Burnley’s epic FA Cup triumph in 1914 was also, of course, away from home, at the Crystal Palace Grounds in London.

Here are the title triumphs at a home, away from home, as chronicled by club Historian, Ray Simpson.

Second Division

Burnley’s first-ever divisional title was finally secured after the last match of the season, a goalless draw at Gainsborough Trinity on Easter Saturday 9 April 1898. However in those days even winning the Second Division Championship did not guarantee promotion to the First Division, there was still a dreaded series of test matches (play-offs) to negotiate.
The two First Division clubs who would contest the test matches were the old enemy, Blackburn Rovers, and bottom club Stoke, with Newcastle United alongside Burnley trying to achieve promotion.
At the end of a round-robin tournament Burnley would visit Stoke and results thus far meant that a draw would render the Newcastle v Blackburn game meaningless as Stoke would avoid relegation and Burnley would be promoted.
After 90 minutes of meaningless inaction at the Victoria Ground the final whistle blew to mark the end of the match and of the season. Burnley and Stoke had both collected the point they needed and the Turfites were back in the First Division.
However the Football League learned from this farcical end to proceedings and the test match system was immediately abolished in favour of automatic promotion and relegation. Play-offs, this time incorporating an equitable system of automatic promotion, were re-introduced in 1987.

First Division

The Clarets’ first-ever League Championship was confirmed with a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park against Everton in the fourth last match of the season, Saturday 23 April 1921. The Clarets’ unbeaten league run of 30 matches had ended by then and, after being undefeated for more than six months, Burnley didn’t win any of their final six matches, losing two and drawing four, including the 1-1 draw away at Everton.

First Division

The Championship was secured with a 2-1 win at Maine Road against Manchester City in the last game of the season, Monday 2 May 1960. This match had been re-arranged from 12 March as on that date the Clarets were involved in the FA Cup sixth round.
Prior to the final whistle blowing at Maine Road, to confirm that Burnley were First Division Champions, amazingly the Clarets had never headed the table at any stage during that season.

Second Division

The title was secured in the final match of the season, 28 April 1973, a 1-1 draw at Preston North End. Conveniently, North End also gained the single point they needed to be mathematically safe from relegation. Burnley’s promotion had been confirmed in the fifth last match of the season, on Monday 16 April, with a 2-0 victory against eventual FA Cup winners Sunderland at Turf Moor.

Third Division

This was actually as near as the Clarets have got to securing a title on home soil.
Burnley drew their last match 1-1 against Chesterfield at Turf Moor on Tuesday 18 May 1982, re-arranged from the original date of 28 December 1981 when the fixture was postponed because of bad weather. Had the Clarets beaten the Spireites they would have clinched the title, as it was they finished their programme on top of the league, but sadly the Championship was not mathematically secured. If Carlisle United managed to beat relegated Chester the following night (19 May) by a margin of at least seven goals in their final fixture, they would pip the Clarets for the title on goal difference. In the event Carlisle won their outstanding game 1-0 and Burnley were Champions with a goal difference of 21 to Carlisle’s 15.
Promotion had been guaranteed in the penultimate match of the season the previous Friday evening, 14 May 1982, with a 4-1 victory at Southend United.

Fourth Division

Both promotion and the Championship were secured in the third last match of the season, a re-arranged Tuesday evening fixture on 28 April 1992, after a 2-1 win at York City.
On a really poignant note, showing that in the midst of joy there is sadness, this match was re-arranged from   Tuesday 10 March following the tragic death of young Clarets apprentice Ben Lee.

The Championship (level 2)

The Championship title was secured in the last match of the season, 7 May 2016, after a 3-0 win at Charlton Athletic. Promotion had been guaranteed in the penultimate match five days earlier, 2 May 2016, after a 1-0 win against QPR at Turf Moor.

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