Burnley away, a trip to one of the Football League’s founder members. Turf Moor, in an era of soulless, out-of-town stadia, is a welcome relief. It is a throwback to fond, hazy memories of football past, a traditional, old fashioned ground oozing charm and character. Saturday’s trip is certainly one to appeal to those of us that appreciate the rich and proud history of the game in this country.
The fact that players, and fans alike, will still be buzzing after Saturday night’s extraordinary events is an added bonus…
Norwich and Burnley have often found themselves on contrasting paths in their respective fortunes. For much of the early days, City were marooned in the lower leagues, namely the Third Division South, while Burnley were regulars in the top division, winning it in 1920/21.
Even, by the time of Burnley’s second championship in 1959/60, Norwich was still competing in the third tier (albeit winning promotion that season).
By the ‘80s and ‘90s, the clubs had effectively swapped positions. Norwich now at home in the First Division while Burnley had fallen into a rapid and almost terminal decline. The gap between the two was never as big as it was in 1986/87, when only a final day win secured Burnley’s place in the Football League, preventing the club dropping into the non-league pyramid and oblivion.
Ken Brown’s Norwich meanwhile finished that season, a then club-record fifth place in Division One.
City’s inspirational captain in 1986/87 was one Mick Phelan. The Canaries’ gain was Burnley’s loss as the Lancastrian had made 168 appearances for his home-town club and was voted their player-of-the-season before his transfer to Norfolk. Phelan would make 194 appearances for City before a big-money move to Manchester United.
The following season – 1987/88 – Norwich and Burnley were paired up in the second round of the League Cup. Despite a gap of three leagues and 70 odd places, Norwich scrapped through 2-1 on aggregate after two closely fought encounters.
They have only ever met once in the FA Cup and that was as recently as the 2011/12 competition. Norwich bucking a current club trend by actually winning a third-round tie! And winning it convincingly 4-1. Burnley’s consolation that day came from striker Jay Rodriguez, who is now back at Turf Moor and may well figure on Saturday.
That FA Cup victory was the last time the two sides played. Even recently, with both yo-yo-ing between the Championship and Premier League, they have generally avoided each other. When Norwich went down in 2013/14 they were replaced by Burnley, the next season, 2014/15, it was City replacing Burnley and then, guess what, in 2015/16 the Clarets were promoted and Norwich relegated.
If fixtures over the years have been sparse there have still been a few memorable games.
The 2004/05 Canary Championship-winning campaign brought about a couple of significant clashes with Burnley. The home game, on 13 September, marked the debut of loanee star, Darren Huckerby, as well as Peter Crouch and Kevin Harper. Three inspired signings that kick-started our season. Crouchy scored in a 2-0 and City never looked back.
By the time, they arrived at Turf Moor on April 3rd, 2004, a slick, exhilarating footballing machine put Burnley ruthlessly to the sword. A Huckerby double and a brilliant 3-5 win that had the hallmark of champions-in-waiting. The win also marked Norwich’s first-ever at Turf Moor in 13 attempts.
Meanwhile a couple of seasons before, City put together a late run to edge into the 2001/02 play-offs. It all came down to Malky Mackay (pictured) scoring a late header to secure a 2-0 home win over Stockport County. It was enough, just, to earn a crack at the playoff lottery. The team they pipped… Burnley, by a solitary goal.
If the 3rd April 2004 marked a high-point for boss Nigel Worthington, then Burnley’s visit to Carrow Road on 1st October 2006 was a definite low. Norwich had struggled since relegation in May 2005, failing to bounce back to the Premier League and the fan-base was losing patience.
The Sky Sports cameras arrived at Carrow Road sensing blood, and they got it, as City slumped to a morale-sapping 4-1 home defeat to a distinctly average Burnley side.
It was the heaviest, and only the third ever, home defeat to Burnley and Worthington was gone within hours of the full-time whistle.
The first-ever game between the two was a Division Two fixture on 15 December 1934 and a home defeat (2-3). The first top-flight encounter was at Turf Moor on 8th December 1973 and a 1-0 City defeat. That loss was sandwiched in between two Texaco Cup defeats – both to Burnley. 14 days and three defeats (2-0, 1-0 and 2-3). By, mid-December Norwich were sick of the sight of the Lancastrians.
The home fixture, later in the season, did at least see the Canaries come out on top, 1-0, but it proved to be of little joy. It was the final time that Norwich tasted victory in Division One. Two defeats later they were back down to Division Two. Burnley finished in the heady heights of sixth.
A lot has happened since those early encounters but one thing has remained the same – Turf Moor! So make the effort, enjoy the trip, away days like this may soon become a thing of the past.