MRS Waddle probably first realised her husband's managerial ambitions when he nipped out for a Chinese takeaway in London and returned two hours later with stone cold chicken and spare ribs, writes TONY DEWHURST.

"There was a game going in the local park and I stopped to watch," Waddle explained.

"I got caught up thinking: 'I'd change this and do that'." The seed was sown.

You can see that ferocious ambition etched across his face when he addresses you about his aspirations for Burnley.

An uncomplicated, honest and engaging man, he clearly wants to do things his own way at Turf Moor.

But if Waddle didn't know what the fire and brimstone of Second Division bread and butter life had in store for him in the first week of a new term, he surely does now.

Watford and Lincoln City's dogs of war was a ruthless, brutal baptism of fire.

Yet Vicarage Road and Sincil Bank was handbags at 30 paces compared to this bareknuckle brawl.

An over officious and inhibiting referee, 35 free-kicks, five yellow cards and two sending-offs sent the near 12,000 Turf Moor crowd home kicking their heels in frustration.

Yet Waddle has seen enough in his first five weeks at Burnley to nurture weighty encouragement as he deliberates the testing months ahead and the transition for Burnley under the new management structure. Indeed, Waddle's post-match observations delivered a captivating understanding into what he is trying to achieve at Turf Moor.

"Management is not as bad as people make out," he smiled. "You just have to keep calm and generate that calmness to your players.

"It may sound daft, but I think there are too many players at Burnley trying too hard.

"They want to do so well but they just need to relax. I really do think that is the case.

"I don't go in to the changing room and wind them up and say to each of them: 'Go and challenge every ball and be really physical.'

"You can go and ask any player. I do never say to them go out there and launch the ball or just kick it.

"I want players to get it, pass it, grasp it and enjoy the experience. I want players to express themselves.

"I'll tell you what bravery is. It's getting the ball and saying: "I've got it, you ain't gonna get it, come on boys, let's play.'

"People say I couldn't tackle a Sunday dinner. Fair comment.

"But I had the bravery to have the ball at my feet, to put my foot on it when it was all going off and saying 'Come and get it.'

"There are brave players at Burnley. I can't fault any one of them for effort and commitment to the cause.

"The players we have at Burnley are not the type of men who are going to lay down and die.

"But I'll tell you what, when we won the championship three times in a row at Marseille we worked harder than that.

"Football is about two buttons are far as I'm concerned. At the minute we've got the one button. The second button will come in time. "If this was Christmas and we were still picking up 1-0 defeats away and nil-nil draws at home then I'd have to say we would have problems.

"It just needs time. We can play a lot better than we did against Gillingham but it is about patience. We will get our rewards. I am convinced of that."

While it is dispiriting not to win your home games, especially the first of a new campaign, you have to review the contest overall and deliver a positive note to the proceedings.

Burnley played for nearly an hour with 10 men following the controversial sending-off of skipper David Eyres in the 35th minute.

It left Burnley's game plan in tatters and the balance was not restored until substitute Leo Fortune-West picked up the the second red card of the match for a vicious elbow on Chris Brass.

The tall Gillingham striker had only been on the pitch for five minutes when he deservedly received his marching orders.

In between, the Clarets had to defend in depth as Gillingham pushed forward at every opportunity to cash in on their advantage.

Marlon Beresford was in wonderful form between the sticks, making several fine stops, including a breathtaking double save from Ade Akinbiyi, who squandered enough chances to have won the game for the visitors.

His one on one with Beresford, which sailed past the post, was the opportunity of the match.

Mark Ford's first minute booking set the tone for a bad-tempered joust, but that did not detract from his performance, which was definitely the finest since a summer arrival from Leeds United.

Richard Huxford had another sound game in the right-sided wing back role. But it was Eyres' red card which sparked the debate.

Eyres appeared desperately unlucky to pick up his first caution for what appeared to be a block tackle on Paul Smith.

But when the man in black ruled Eyres had kicked Simon Ratcliffe quarter-of-an-hour later, it was an early bath for the Clarets skipper.

Waddle - who arrived as a second half substitute to a typically rapturous Turf Moor welcome - reverted to a 4-4-1 line-up at half-time with Lee Howey switching to the heart of the defence and Paul Weller revving events up in midfield.

Weller appeared sharp and eager and maybe his spell in the reserves - on Waddle's orders - has given him the edge the manager claimed was missing.

Still, even then, Burnley could have nicked all three points when Weller pulled a delicious centre across the face of goal for Mark Ford to provide the final touch.

But without that extra body inside the danger area, Gillingham somehow managed to scramble the ball to safety.

But the first point under Waddle's new regime should at least be cause for mild celebration at Turf Moor and for a Burnley team who had to survive for an hour with only 10 men without capitulating.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.