Burnley Football Club is saddened to learn of the death of former club captain Peter Noble, aged 72.
The Sunderland-born midfielder made a total of 299 appearances for the Clarets between 1973-1979, scoring 80 goals.
Following Burnley’s promotion to the First Division in 1973, it was widely expected that manager Jimmy Adamson would take steps to strengthen the side for the challenge ahead.
In the event, his only signing, costing a modest £35,000, was an unsung 28-year-old with little experience of top flight football. It seemed an unambitious move on the club’s part, but Noble went on to prove one of Burnley’s best-ever bargain buys.
He was already known to the Clarets from his days at Swindon Town. Burnley were drawn against Swindon in the semi-final of the League Cup in 1968/69; their opponents were in the Third Division, and it looked like an easy passage to Wembley.
But Peter Noble was a key man in ensuring that did not happen, scoring the winning goal in the first leg at Turf Moor and again in the replay after the sides finished level after two legs. It was the underdogs who progressed to the Twin Towers, and they went on, famously, to beat Arsenal 3-1 in the final.
He was a late starter in League football, combining playing as an amateur for Consett in the Northern League with work as a painter and decorator before joining Newcastle at the age of 20 late in 1964. His progress to the first team was gradual, and in January 1968, before really establishing himself as a regular, he was sold to Swindon for £10,000.
He was a major figure in the good times that soon came to the County Ground; as well as winning the League Cup, Swindon won promotion to the Second Division for the first time and established themselves at the higher level, also winning the Anglo-Italian Cup in 1970.
Noble, although never an out-and-out striker, averaged better than a goal per four games in his time there and was clearly one of the stars of their side.
For Burnley’s first game back in the top flight, at Sheffield United, Noble was named as substitute as Adamson kept faith with the promotion-winning side. He was called into action when Mick Docherty was injured, replacing Docherty at right-back, and amazingly he remained in that position for the rest of that season. His displays gave no clue that the role was new to him, but his only goals in 1973/74, five of them, came in the Texaco Cup as Burnley reached the final of that competition.
Noble took over his more familiar midfield role early in the 74/75 campaign after Martin Dobson’s move to Everton, and soon broke his League duck, his fourteen in total that season including a hat-trick against his old club Newcastle at Turf Moor. He bettered that early in the following season with four in a home game against Norwich, but sadly failed to end on the winning side as the game ended 4-4.
By this time, though, Noble was firmly established as a crowd favourite, affectionately nicknamed “Uwe” in reference to the famous German international forward, with whom he shared a similar hairstyle (ie, not much of it!).
He remained consistency itself after the Clarets slipped into the Second Division in 1976, and took over as club captain a year later. In 1978/79, by now in his mid-thirties, he enjoyed his best League goals return for Burnley with 14 and played in every game of the Clarets’ run which culminated in the winning of the Anglo-Scottish Cup.
He also maintained his amazing record from the penalty spot… in his Turf Moor career, he scored 27 from 27 attempts.
Noble was sold to Blackpool for £25,000 in January 1980 after finally losing his place in a struggling Burnley side as new manager Brian Miller opted for youth. He continued to play regular League football at Bloomfield Road, but the Seasiders were struggling and sank to the Fourth Division in 1981, and he finally called it a day in 1983. He subsequently ran a sports shop in Burnley Market Hall for almost twenty years, and remained a familiar figure around his adopted home town.
Peter Noble was never a “big-name” player, but he was superb in his time with Burnley and is remembered at least as fondly as many who had far more glittering careers with the club.
On behalf of all at Burnley Football Club, we would like to express our deepest sympathies to all friends and family.