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Clarets legend hopes class of 2013-14 stay injury free
IT is an incredible 52 years since Burnley made a better start to a league season. Jimmy Robson hopes this time the Clarets can steer clear of injuries, after the loss of Jimmy McIlroy ultimately cost them the title in 1961/62.
Burnley’s 2-0 win at Doncaster on Tuesday put them top of the Championship table and ensured that their record after 10 league games is now even better than the one they made in 2001, when they led the division for much of the period up until the New Year.
Seven wins, two draws and just one defeat have given Burnley 23 points from their opening 10 matches – a club record, given the fact that three points for a win was only introduced in 1981.
To find a better start in terms of results, you have to go back to 1961 and the team of Robson, McIlroy, Ray Pointer, John Connelly, Jimmy Adamson, the list goes on.
It was the golden era of Burnley Football Club.
They had won the First Division title in 1959/60,then finished fourth a season later when the European Cup was a major focus.
In 1961/62, they appeared to be back to their best league form from the very start.
Their first 10 league games brought eight wins, one draw and only one loss.
The Clarets scored 32 goals in those 10 matches – including back-to-back 6-2 away wins at Birmingham and Leicester.
They would go on to net 101 goals in their 42 league fixtures.
They had also reached the century mark a year earlier.
“We scored 100 goals twice,” Robson recalls.
“We had very good attacking players and pretty much everyone in the team could score goals.
“I remember us scoring six away from home in those two games in a row.
“It was a fantastic team.”
Burnley led the league table until March that season and had hopes of doing the double.
They would reach the FA Cup final, in which Robson scored in a 3-1 defeat to Tottenham.
But their hopes of a second league title in three years were thwarted when they lost McIlroy to injury.
“We would have loved to have won the league a second time, we should have won it that year,” Robson says.
“But later in the season Jimmy McIlroy was struggling with an injury. He was struggling to play matches and in the end he ended up missing quite a few games.
“He was the main man so we missed him.”
That, coupled with a punishing fixture backlog of 11 games in April, allowed Alf Ramsey’s Ipswich to sneak in front of them and win the title.
Robson is still an avid follower of the game. He is often seen at Accrington Stanley and recently took in Fulham’s game with Arsenal during a trip to the south.
He remains a regular at Turf Moor and took part in the Football League’s 125th anniversary celebrations at the start of the campaign.
The 74-year-old is delighted that Burnley have marked the season with such a fine start.
“I’ve only seen the home games but I’ve enjoyed them and they have looked comfortable,” he said.
“Before there have been times when they were leading and they’d concede a late goal. But now they go 1-0 up, then 2-0 up and they see it out.
“The two front lads have done really well.
“I quite liked Danny Ings last season, I thought he was a good player then. He doesn’t dribble past people, he just runs straight past them.
“I hope Burnley can keep it going. You just hope they can keep everyone fit, particularly the two front men because I don’t know what they have behind them at the moment.
“Hopefully they can avoid suspensions as well. I played for 18 years and was never booked, and I played centre half for some of that time. I did make a few fouls. I wouldn’t get away with that today!”
Robson has been impressed with manager Sean Dyche, 52 years after Harry Potts was the man who led Burnley so successfully.
“He has done a very good job,” Robson said of Dyche.
“I think they must do a lot of work on the training pitch because they are a very well organised team.
“Our manager Harry Potts was so enthusiastic. He would always want to take part in the five-a-side.
“Sometimes he would send one of the first team to train with the reserves so he could play!
“I remember when we played against Reims in the European Cup in Paris. They tried to move a free kick 10 yards further forward and Harry went on to the pitch and moved it back.
“There was a wire fence round the pitch and the French fans were climbing the fence trying to get on. They weren’t happy!
“Harry had to be moved somewhere else for his own safety.
“But that was him, he wanted to do everything he could for us.”
Those memories of the club’s progression to the quarter finals of the European Cup still remain some of Robson’s most treasured moments.
“We played Hamburg and Reims, and I think Reims were the better of the two even though it was Hamburg who knocked us out,” he said.
“They were a good side. We beat them 2-0 at Turf Moor but we had a meal with them after the game and you could tell from their mood that they didn’t think 2-0 was beyond them.
“To be honest it wasn’t! They absolutely battered us in Paris, but it was 2-1 and then the ball broke to John Connelly.
“He must have been the only Burnley player in their half but he just ran straight through them and scored.
“The European Cup was fantastic. I think I scored more goals than anyone else. To score four goals in three games, no-one can take that away from me.”
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