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JEFF THE REF REMINISCES ABOUT BURNLEY

Burnley have come a long way since I acted as linesman at Turf Moor in only my second game on the League List. They won that 1986 encounter 3-0 in front of a crowd of only 3,240. Crowds had picked up when I first reffed there in 1993, a 5-0 victory against ten men Chester City.

13,130 for the following season's 1-1 draw against Stockport County as Burnley continued their progress away from the lower divisions. After another game in Lancashire when they lost 2-1 to Portsmouth I finally reffed them away from home and they took all three points in a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace.

Next up in 2002 was a Championship game at Molineux against Wolverhampton Wanderers. It was a very special day for Paul Cook and his family, during his long career he had spent the most time at these two clubs, earlier in career he played 193 games for Wolves scoring nineteen goals, he returned to the Midlands club with Burnley who he went on to feature for 146 times and score twelve times.

To mark the occasion he was captain for the game and unbeknown to me the two young mascots that day were his children. No room for sentiment in football though as less than ten minutes into the game I dismissed him after a rather tasty challenge on Alex Rae. Post-match, Cook didn't have too many complaints, admitting that with the incident being so early in the game he had thought that he might get away with a yellow. He also added that as well as his children, all his family were at the game. Oops.

My final experience with Burnley was in a bizarrely scheduled live Sunday evening kick-off, in the TV slot usually featuring 'Songs Of Praise', so it is perhaps apt that the game was against West Brom, whose supporters sang their anthem, a version of the old hymn, 'The Lord's My Shepherd', as they triumphed 2-0.

I recall many trips as a supporter to Turf Moor and in particular the pace and strength of wide-man Steve Kindon. He is still going strong on the After Dinner circuit and I always enjoy sharing the billing with Kindo, a great entertainer and a good friend.

In recent seasons it's fair to say that relationships between Boro and Burnley haven't always been as cordial. After narrow recent defeats at Turf Moor it's time for us to redress the balance and help ensure that we meet again next season.




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