Former Claret Graham Branch says joining Burnley was “probably the best decision” he ever made, writes Dan Barnes

The 48-year-old arrived at Turf Moor in 1999, becoming one of legendary manager Stan Ternent’s first signings.

Branch went on to make more than 200 appearances in a memorable eight-year spell with the Clarets before moving on to Accrington Stanley.

And he says making the move to East Lancashire was an easy decision.

“The gaffer had taken over at Burnley and he was looking for more personnel,” said the Liverpudlian.

“I don’t think he was particularly happy with what was there at the time; the side was struggling.

“Around Christmas, I went up to meet him at Turf Moor and was struck by how honest he was.

“And I looked at the stadium and thought, ‘I just want to be part of this’. It’s probably the best decision I ever made, to be fair.”

Branch is still in regular contact with Ternent and holds his former boss in high regard.

“I spoke to the gaffer last week, so that probably tells you a lot,” he joked.

“He’s old school and he won’t mind me saying that.

“I fell out with him every week and so did most other people.

“But he would walk to the end of the earth for you; he always had your back and everyone respected him.

“He is one of the people I respect most in life.”

Branch featured in a famous win over Scunthorpe in 2000 which saw Burnley secure promotion to the second tier and still has fond memories of the occasion 20 years on.

“There were a lot of nerves around that day,” he said.

“Thousands and thousands of supporters had travelled to the game; it was one of those seasons where we knew we had a good team.

“Our minds were on giving it our best shot and, hopefully, Wrexham would do us a favour.

“The gaffer gave us a rousing pre-match talk and I remember walking out onto the pitch and hearing the roar.

“We heard our supporters cheering when Wrexham scored, so that obviously gave us a bit of an oomph. The night after the game, and the following weeks, were just the best feeling ever.”

Three years ago, the Clarets moved into their state-of-the-art Barnfield Training Centre.

And Branch admits the club’s facilities have come a long way since his playing days.

“I’ve seen pictures of it and can’t believe how much it’s changed,” he said.

“I loved training at Gawthorpe but it sometimes felt like a dungeon; it was dark and wet.

“They did up the top pitch when Steve Cotterill came in, and it was like playing at Wembley because we were used to playing on mud.

“But no one cared because we were all training together and the lads were brilliant for each other.”

Branch – now coaching at the Football First Academy – still follows the Clarets and is impressed by what Sean Dyche has achieved since taking charge at Turf Moor.

“He seems to get the best out of his players,” he said.

“I’m always getting people on Facebook saying, ‘his football is rubbish’ and ‘he’s too direct’.

“And sometimes they do play quite direct, but they haven’t got the technical players of a Liverpool or a Manchester City.

“He’s done an absolutely brilliant job and Burnley staying in the Premier League is testament to that.”