SACKING a manager on the morning of a game is hardly ideal preparation – but it did the trick for Burnley when they caused a famous cup shock at Tottenham.

Back in 1983 the Clarets had struggled after reaching Division Two as champions under Brian Miller, and at the midway stage sat entrenched in the relegation zone along with Derby County and Cambridge United.

Their best football had been reserved for the knockout competitions and though they had beaten Bury, Middlesbrough, Coventry and Birmingham to reach the last eight of the Milk Cup, the board decided that change was needed.

Assistant manager Frank Casper had been sent with the squad down to North London, expecting to be followed by Miller the next morning.

But when the message came down from chairman John Jackson that the axe had been wielded, the odds were well and truly stacked against any sort of upset.

“Brian Miller had been the manager who brought me to the club, so it was quite a big shock to find that on the morning of the game he wouldn’t be there,” recalled former striker Steve Taylor.

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“But I’ll never forget that night. It was one of the best games a lot of us had in a Burnley shirt, that’s for sure.”

Even on the night of the game, recalls Taylor, things were conspiring against the visitors.

“We’d arrived late because of the traffic,” he said,

"Then for the first 20 minutes they were all over us. I think it affected us because we were pretty slow to start.

“We were up against a team with superstars like Ossie Ardilles, Ricky Villa, Glenn Hoddle, Steve Perryman, Steve Archibald – it wasn’t a load of kids like some of the big clubs put out nowadays.

“We got to the second half goalless but then they went ahead.

"I think most people expected us to buckle then and concede two, three, four. The home crowd certainly did.

“But that team had some good young players in it. We took them on, went for it, and they couldn’t live with us.”

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After Terry Gibson had opened the scoring, Spurs managed to check their own momentum as Graham Roberts headed past Ray Clemence to put the game back on level terms with 25 minutes remaining.

Just 10 minutes later Burnley were ahead – Taylor dummying at the near post for his strike partner Billy Hamilton to crash a shot in from close range.

Spurs began to fall apart and with five minutes left on the clock Taylor found space on the right, cut into the box, and his low cross was turned into the net by the hapless Roberts.

And still the Clarets were not finished – a long ball over the top found Gary O’Reilly out of position and Hamilton ran through to crash a shot past Clemence.

It was a night that remains firmly lodged in Taylor’s mind even 37 years later and while there would arguably be more downs than ups in his two spells at Turf Moor throughout the eighties he still holds the club dear to his heart.

“The club will always mean a lot to me because going there came at an important stage in my career,” he said.

“I’d played at Bolton and scored goals then moved on to Oldham and scored goals but at Luton and then Mansfield things hadn’t gone as well.

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“The call from the manager at Burnley came at the right time and he asked me to come over and take a look around.

“He took me around the training ground at Padiham and then to Turf Moor, pointed up at the big Bob Lord Stand and said: ‘Imagine that packed out with fans singing your name'.

“The club was only half an hour away from where I lived at the time so there was nothing to think about – and looking back they were some of the best days of my career.

“Burnley was always a real family club and I don’t think that has changed to this day.

"Sean Dyche has done a great job when you look at what the club is up against and the money other people spend.”

He also got a chance to play alongside Clarets legend Hamilton – who topped the scoring charts for three successive seasons after Taylor had done so in 1980/81.

“Billy was a terrific player,” Taylor said. “Powerful, quick, international class.

“I remember when Burnley had won the Third Division championship and the club took us to Majorca.

"He had to go off and play for Northern Ireland in Spain but he had a little window of time to join up with us – and boy, did he take advantage. I’ve never seen anyone enjoy a holiday so much.

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“But it didn’t do him any harm, did it? He crossed the ball for Gerry Armstrong when they beat Spain and got a couple of goals himself. What a great summer.”

Taylor is currently recovering from an operation to remove cancerous skin cells on his forehead – a procedure he was glad to complete just as the lockdown brought everyone in the UK indoors.

The 64-year-old, who now lives in Oldham and also has property in Lytham, has been given the all-clear by specialists but has urged people to be careful in the sun if they get the opportunity this summer.

“In winter we have a place we go to in Tenerife and probably 18 months ago I’d noticed a patch of dry skin on the top of my head and didn’t really think a lot of it,” he explained.

“I just put a bit of cream on and left it alone.

“But then as time went on it developed into a rash. I didn’t want any drama and didn’t really deal with it – but then it got bigger and we knew it needed to be sorted out.”

After seeing doctors in Oldham, Taylor was able to get himself into a specialist at Salford Royal who was able to deal with the problem on site using Mohs surgery, the result of which was 12 stitches but a weight off the mind.

“The staff and in particular Dr Nicholas Telfer were amazing,” he said. “There was a lot of anxiety in there at the time because they knew what was coming around the corner and that things were about to get very serious.

"But to get in there when I did, cutting it very fine, I was so relieved.

“I look a bit like a pirate at the moment with my stitches and a big black eye, plus they had to cut some nerves in my head so it’s a bit numb. But they got it all out first time, so I can’t complain at all.”