In this series of articles, Steve McGhee takes a look at some of the programmes issued covering matches between Derby and those who, back in 1888, along with the Rams, were founder members of the Football League.

1947/48 Burnley v Derby County

Whereas Derby had been a permanent fixture in the First Division during the 1930s, Burnley had spent the entire decade in Division Two.  The first season after the war, however, had seen them finally win promotion as runners-up to Manchester City. In doing so, what was nicknamed the “iron curtain defence” conceded just 29 goals in 42 games. They had also reached the FA Cup Final where they lost to Charlton who had, of course, lost to Derby in the previous year’s Final.

Following an opening day 1-0 victory at Fratton Park, it was the Rams who arrived at Turf Moor for Burnley’s first home game in the top flight since May 1930 – which, coincidentally, had also been against Derby.  Visiting supporters would have been hoping for a better outcome, the Rams having lost that game 6-2! For the match, Burnley issued a 12 page programme priced at 2d.

No match details on the front cover but there is a reasonable amount of reading material inside. Club Notes on pages 3 and 4 state that the upcoming season is “one of the most important in the history of the club” and, to that end, also notes that there had been copious ground improvements over the summer with an increase in the covered accommodation available. Derby are described as “one of the most talked-about clubs in the country” and mention is made of the club breaking the British transfer fee record for Billy (or, as is typed in the programme, “Willie”) Steel.

Journalist H. Shackleton reflects on Burnley’s three previous top-flight campaigns, lineups cover the centre pages, and there is a brief resume of the Rams’ history as well as the shortest football quiz to ever feature in any programme – one question! Fixture lists, the height and weight of the club’s 27 professional players and advertising (of a fairly mundane nature) fills the remaining space.

On the day, it was Derby who brought the home team back down to earth with a 2-0 victory, goals from Jack Stamps and Raich Carter in front of a huge crowd of 43,067 (though those of you who recall that vast bank of terracing at Turf Moor in the days before all-seated stadia might not be so surprised). One note of trivia – the Burnley lineup contained two players, Allan Brown and Harry Potts, who would later go on to manage the club. Indeed, Harry Potts was Burnley manager when they were the first visitors to the Baseball Ground following Derby’s top-flight return in 1969. But more of that later…

1952/53 Derby County v Burnley

By 1953 Burnley had become, like Derby, an established First Division club but, when the two met at the Baseball Ground in February of that year, nobody would have imagined it would be 16 years before the two clubs would meet one another in a league fixture again. On a ten match unbeaten run, the Clarets kicked off a point clear of Arsenal at the top of the table. Derby, however, had slipped into the relegation zone following defeat the previous week at Arsenal.

The programme editorial notes that “the present position of both teams obviously adds interest to the game” before adding that “points to the Rams are now a dire necessity” which turned out to be very true indeed. Pages 3 and 4 contain detailed information on the Burnley players, three of whom (Mather, Attwell and Chew) had played in the aforementioned 47/48 match. As was the case in 1947, the Burnley team also contained a player, right-half Jimmy Adamson, who would later go on to manage the club (and, as we shall find out later, speak his mind!). Page 7 continues the “Know the F.A. Laws” series, this time concentrating on the offside law. Such an article should, perhaps, be a permanent feature in all clubs’ programmes, given its complexities and room for ambiguity both then and now! Lineups cover the centre pages and the second half of the programme features the usual statistics as well as a comprehensive match report on the recent Derby v Barnsley reserve match at the Baseball Ground. There’s also notice of an upcoming attraction for the next home game – the Grenadier Guards band would be playing prior to kick-off as well as at half-time.

The match, as it turned out, went by the proverbial formbook with Burnley running out 3-1 winners in front of a crowd of 19,646. Jack Lee was on target for the Rams, with Billy Elliott, Jimmy McIlroy and Jack Chew scoring for the visitors.

1953/54 Burnley v Derby County (reserves)

For the next 16 years, the only matches played between the two clubs were at Central League level. The meeting at Turf Moor in April of 1954 saw the home team still in with an outside chance of the title, 3 points behind leaders Everton with two games remaining. The Rams had also had a successful campaign, lying fifth in the table, though this was their final game of the season.

For the match, Burnley produced a full 16 page programme priced 3d. Though the opponents weren’t listed on the cover, at least the date was and, as this was issue 44, it can be assumed that they issued regularly for reserve team games. The editorial notes are entitled “Possibilities” and explain in detail how it was a case of ‘so near yet so far’ for the club’s Football League, Central League and Lancashire Combination sides. The list of “upcoming fixtures” shows the avid Burnley fan was well catered for with 6 games in the next 6 days, though none of them involved the first XI. Burnley have always had a reputation as a club who believe in developing talent and the programme lists all 73(!) players who had represented the club that season at various levels, only 21 of whom are listed as amateurs. The lineups for the match cover the centre pages and list both Ray Middleton and Ray Straw as appearing for Derby. In the Burnley team are our old friends Mather, Attwell and Chew from the previous two programmes! The programme contains an interesting list of all first team attendances at Turf Moor over the last 3 seasons. In 53/54 they were averaging 28,233 and it was noted that season ticket holders were included whether or not they actually attended. League tables for First Division, Second Division, Central League and Lancashire Combination complete the programme – interestingly, the team lying in second place in Division Two are simply listed as “Rovers”, presumably referring to Burnley’s local rivals from Ewood Park. Although Burnley did what they had to with a 2-1 win, so did Everton and the Central League title went to Goodison Park.

1969/70 Derby County v Burnley

Football and serendipity often go hand in hand – and so it was in August of 1969 when the events of August 1947 were repeated, albeit with the roles reversed. Derby had been absent from the First Division for 16 years – a period Burnley had spent exclusively in the top flight – and welcomed the Lancashire club to the Baseball Ground for their opening home game of the 69/70 season.

Both teams had warmed up for this match with convincing wins in the last of their pre-season friendlies. Burnley had beaten Tranmere Rovers 4-0; the Rams had hammered Werder Bremen 6-0. The day also should have seen the opening of the Ley Stand taking the Baseball Ground’s capacity to over 40,000. Given the occasion, however, the 16 page programme issued was slightly underwhelming. The front cover featured a leaping Les Green against a backdrop of the new grandstand as well as the Second Division trophy inserted alongside the club’s name.  The editorial notes that a few enterprising fans had sneaked into the new stand to watch the Bremen game and that those who thought the resultant scoreline implied the Germans were “nothing better than a bunch of amateurs” were very much mistaken! The new season is looked forward to with the observation that, for Clough’s team, “there will be no question of relying on luck”. There are three pages covering the visiting team who were managed by the Burnley inside-left from the 1947 match, Harry Potts, though he has absented himself from the team photograph. Mention is made of the £40,000 transfer fee paid to Chelsea for left-back Jim Thomson as this was the most the club had ever paid for a player. How times change!

The final league tables for both First and Second Divisions from the previous season (Leicester and QPR having been relegated) show Burnley’s final position of 14th highlighted in bold. The lineups are listed in the centre pages, directions to the next game (away to Coventry), a few words from skipper Dave Mackay (along with notice that the Ley Stand turnstiles at the Normanton End are not open as yet) and the fixture lists and half-time scoreboard complete the programme.

Despite their proclivity a few days earlier, neither team could find the back of the net so the Rams had to be content with a point and a clean sheet. The attendance of 29,451 was, surprisingly given the circumstances, the club’s lowest of the season! The programme for the next home game against Ipswich certainly implies that, on the day, the Ley Stand wasn’t quite ready to be used for the Burnley game after all. Can anyone confirm?

1970/71 Burnley v Derby County

Having finished in a creditable fourth place on their return to the First Division, the following season, though not quite as successful, saw the Rams consolidate their status. For Burnley the season had been a struggle from the offset and it had taken them until October 31st to register a league victory. Indeed, there was only one further win between then and the end of February. By the time Derby arrived at Turf Moor with three games of the season remaining, the Clarets were all but down, 6 points adrift of 20th placed West Ham but with a markedly inferior goal average. So, anything other than a victory and they would be relegated.

For the match, Burnley issued a 20 page programme costing 5p. Given the circumstances, the prose contained within is surprisingly upbeat – manager Jimmy Adamson’s notes contain no allusion to the relegation struggle. Instead, he takes the opportunity to put forward his idea that the offside law, rather than being modified, should be abolished altogether! Unfortunately, he doesn’t back that up with any rationale as to why. He does, however, bemoan the fact that opposing goalkeepers always seem to keep their best for when his Burnley are the opponents.

The sports editor of the Burnley Express puts forward his case for centre-half Colin Waldron to be named the club’s Player of the Year and there is one of those wonderful Q&A sessions which used to be in “Shoot” every week. This time it’s young full back Peter Jones who gets to describe what his favourite food is (steak and chips), what car he drives (a Ford Cortina) and who his favourite singer is (Tom Jones!). Action photos from recent games against Blackpool and West Ham fill the centre pages, followed by a “no holds barred” syndicated article written by Ron Kennedy of the Sunday Express slating the “players, management and fans” of Leeds for reacting the way they did to the referee, Mr. Tinkler, after the infamous “offside” goal scored by West Brom earlier in the month which, arguably, cost Leeds the title. In today’s litigious-wary environment such words would never be printed in a club programme but it’s all the better for being so blunt. The writer concludes by stating that having professional referees would make no difference when hooligans are hell bent on getting their way.

As it turned out, goals from John McGovern and Alan Durban (Frank Casper replying for the hosts) put the final nail in the coffin for Burnley’s season. Given that the attendance of 10,373 was easily their lowest of the campaign, it looks very much like the home fans had already given up on the club’s chances of escaping the drop anyway.

1974/75 Burnley v Derby County

One can only imagine the hype today’s broadcasters would drum up for a title race where, with just a month of the season remaining, only 7 points separated 1st from 11th in the table. But that was the case when two of the top five met at Turf Moor on Easter Monday. Burnley had returned to the top flight the previous season and their revamped side now included future Ram Leighton James.

The 20 page “Claret & Blue” now cost 15p (well, these were the inflationary 70s) and, though containing much the same features as the 70/71 issue, had a slightly more modern “feel” to it. Home club legend Brian Miller takes the opportunity, much as his manager did four years earlier, to state how desirable he thought changes to the offside law would be for the game. Manager Jimmy Adamson obviously likes to put forward his point of view and he bemoans (rightly) the increase in swearing on the pitch by players. Jimmy states this is “not tolerated” at his club and that the FA should issue an immediate directive. He also has a dig at Arsenal’s Alan Ball for questioning Burnley’s over-aggressive style. “The circumstances were created by persons other than Burnley FC [and] I will leave it at that” says Jimmy, pointedly. Great stuff!

On the pitch, it was a memorable match for the crowd of 24,317, the Rams taking a big step towards the title with a 5-2 victory. Goals came from Kevin Hector (with a brace), Roger Davies, David Nish and Bruce Rioch, the home team replying through Ray Hankin and a Leighton James penalty. As can be seen from the ticket scan, great value for just £1.50!

This article was first printed in issue 13 of Derby County Memories (June 2016). If you enjoyed reading it, why not buy copies of the magazine? See the About section for further details.