|"Glory and sad exit"|
|Written by davethomas|
|Monday, 16 August 2010|
Dobson and Nulty were sold before they had reached their peak. The following season the policy was to buy players who were well past their peak. Adamson bought former player Willie Morgan, and the Manchester City player Mike Summerbee. The wheel had turned full circle. From producing home-grown, young, quality players, the club in 1975 was buying veterans. It could not afford otherwise. Add them to other older players like Newton, and Noble, and the signs for a successful future did not bode well.
In the Charity Shield, in 1973 one of the showcase games of the season, they had beaten Manchester City one of the classiest sides in Division One. It was won with a classic, trademark Burnley free kick routine whereby after various scams and decoy runs Waldron was left alone to come running in, totally unmarked from the edge of the area, and score with a lovely header from the ball chipped to him by Doug Collins. It was a goal to savour. It was so clever and so beautifully executed it was played over and again on TV.
CUNNING THAT’S US SAYS ADAMSON: When the rain comes slanting in at the dark hills and mills of Burnley, in the heart of Lancashire, a special comfort can be found in the deeds of the local football club. It was that sort of a morning when I sat with the team behind the team; the backroom puppeteers who have quietly created the most warming story the game has known for years. Burnley are the little team from the sticks who are showing their scrambling, frenetic, millionaire clubs how a soccer side should be run.
Last week, Chelsea, all smooth and sophisticated with their Kings Road charisma, arrived in Burnley, and were beaten. It was a night to remember. Being in Burnley was a sudden throwback to those days of years gone by. The brass band playing in the fading light before kick-off; hot pork pies with their distinct flavour; men straight from work in overalls and bob-caps knowing they were about to see something special. This was football before it became political. This was Burnley on their first night back in the First Division. Nobody was let down, for even the winning goal was taken from every fan’s dream as Frank Casper brought the ball down from chest high, swivelled and dug his left foot into it before it hit the ground and in a blur, was there, as they say in Lancashire, in the onion bag.
An astonishing aside in Burnley’s success against Chelsea was the performance of their 28-years old right-back Peter Noble. He joined Burnley in the summer for £40,000, while they were able to sell Eric Probert (£30,000) to Notts County. Noble joined them as a mid-field man and had never played right-back in his life before. He had laboured through a few First Division games with Newcastle United, spent most of his career in the Second and Third Divisions with Swindon Town and yet here he was playing as a defender in the manner born.
“Whenever we played against Swindon he was a torment to us, whether he was up front or in midfield,” said Adamson. “As soon as I knew I could buy him I did.He is a great professional who says he will play anywhere for us.”
“George Bray was a member of the 1947 Cup Final team; Brian Miller played with me in the 1960 Championship team and Dave Blakey and I were in the same boys’ team at East Chevington, near Amble in Northumberland.”
But not often.
been up to their standard practice of intimidation and sly nastiness. They had come off the field at the end following a 0 – 0 draw and had vented their spleen at one player in particular – Doug Collins. In the return game they told him they would break his legs. Adamson heard the undisguised intimidation and mentally stored it away. Colin Waldron remembers it well. Collins was not the most physically robust of players, he was no hard man; the Leeds players knew this. At Elland Road, Adamson in front of Don Revie informed the referee of the threats that the Leeds players had made. Revie was furious. Collins survived the game, scored a wonder goal into the bargain, but the other players came away with the usual collection of lumps, cuts and bruises. Casper in fact was hardest hit and the tackle by Hunter that took him out of the game has never been forgotten by the players or the supporters who were there. It was savage and deliberate; the ball had long gone, and Casper in fact was a couple of feet off the field when Hunter connected. It effectively ended his career although he made a valiant effort at a comeback.
Burnley did indeed put in a performance the following Saturday. They ran Newcastle off the park – but lost and to this day Malcolm MacDonald does not know how Newcastle won. James Mossop previewed the game.
This, according to their vastly experienced manager, Jimmy Adamson, is a test comparable to no other.On semi-final day, he says, nerves twang and muscles tighten. The slightest mistake chases a player around like a night-time ogre. He should know. As a Burnley player in the sixties he won one, lost one. One step from Wembley means a match where temperament counts for more than skill. Have the Burnley boys the cool, assured minds to see them through?
“I don’t know,” says Adamson putting his hands behind his head and leaning back in his chair under the stands at Turf Moor.”You can’t tell with some semi-finals. It all depends on the team on the day. I remember the semi-final we lost against Tottenham 3 – 0 at Aston Villa. We didn’t want to play at Villa in the first place. It wasn’t a happy hunting ground.Maybe it affected our temperament. Today’s team isn’t too keen on Villa Park either. That is why we are glad to go to Sheffield. Skill will not count for a lot. There is so much at stake. Getting to Wembley is the goal. After a semi-final Wembley is a day out for everybody. Atmospheres affect people differently. Some semi-final mistakes have gone down in history, exaggerated beyond all reason. They never let Sir Alf Ramsey forget the back-pass he made that led to Tottenham losing a semi-final. Some players perform tremendously in front of a big crowd. This is how one must explain Bobby Moore’s consistently brilliant performances in an England shirt. A manager’s job before a semi-final is to get the right degree of motivation into his players. Psychology plays such a tremendous part. Bill Shankly must have psychology as his strongest point. He lifts his teams to the perfect pitch and they go on winning things. I don’t want to over motivate my players. Just bring them to the right pitch so that they go out sharp as razors.”
Burnley’s success this season has been wonderful reward for Adamson and his lieutenants. When they dropped into the Second Division in 1971 many people said they would never come back. They had a young side and Adamson had orders to slash his wage bill. Seven players left, some on free transfer. Attendances slumped. Angry fans demanded Adamson’s resignation. One side of the ground was flattened to make way for a new stand. The start was delayed for two years. Noen of us would ever be allowed Adamson to forget that he once said: “Burnley will be the team of the seventies.” But, he never budged from his blue-print.
“I always said that if you sent out ten inside forweards and a goalkeeper there would be little need for coaching,” says Adamson. “There would be some organisation, of course, but it would make for interesting and entertaining football.”
Adamson was himself an attractive, strolling midfield player. A feeling that this could be his year for Wembley keeps niggling at him. He likes it. “I have been there only once before. Tottenham beat us in 1962. Every time I look back I wish I could play the game again, putting things right. It would be nice tobe there and not have to stand at the bottom of the steps watching the winners receive their medals when all you want to do is crawl away and hide.”
How good it would be good for football to see Burnley’s lads up there first this year.
Sadly, Burnley lost 2 – 0. It was indeed a match where temperament counted for more than skill. It is reasonable to say that skilful as Burnley were; they were beaten by the big-match temperament of Malcolm MacDonald who scored both Newcastle goals. Casper had been patched up and sent out to play. It was a mistake. Adamson was dejected. He was bitterly upset for his players.
It all sounds very impressive but I’m sure if a survey had been carried out around 3. 30 p.m. last Saturday among the Newcastle players they wouldn’t have given a brass farthing for their chances. At that stage of the game several Newcastle players believed they were going to lose. It’s difficult to tell from the terraces but we knew it on the pitch that a lot of their players had ‘gone’. We were well on top at that stage and several of the players had lost confidence. They could see their Wembley hopes slipping away.
It was only when Malcolm MacDonald scored the first of his two gols that their spirits returned to the team and at last the fans started to roar.To be honest I had no idea that there were so many Newcastle fans in the ground and I was amazed when they came to life after the goal. At that point Newcastle players who had been lethargic found new life and suddenly they were really playing.It’s remarkable the influence that one player can have on a game and we have to admit Malcolm MacDonald was something special.
I’ve been playing football for quite a time and that defeat was the worst experience I have ever suffered. The injury to Frank Casper, who I believe is one of our best players, upset the team and although Ray Hankin came in and did a great job, Frank cannot be replaced.
The immediate game was Chelsea at Turf Moor and though leading 1 – 0 with just ten minutes to go, Burnley lost. Lord was booed to he approached his seat in the stand but Captain Colin Waldron was upbeat, defiant and outspoken:
In midfield we have an abundance of cover, Doug Collins, Geof Nulty, Billy Ingham, Brian Flynn and Peter Noble of whom the Burnley fans have not seen the best. I am one of those people who believe in straight talking so let’s do some on the current big talking point in the town. Dobson was the favourite player but not the best player. He has not had a good 12 months. When people ask me if we can manage without him it makes me angry. It is a ludicrous question for even with Dobson in the team we only picked up one point from three games. I read in one national paper today a report saying how badly we missed Dobson. This was a load of rubbish. We were strong in midfield and it was not his absence which cost us the game last night.
Football is a hard, cruel, ruthless game and we professionals know how to survive in it. We did not cry when Ralph Coates left or when David Thomas left, and they were great guys like Martin Dobson. We’ve got to get on with it now, get Coventry beaten and kick the club’s critics in the teeth by doing well where it matters – on the field’.
“Think of something that can possibly go wrong – and it will,” said new manager Joe Brown. Old manager Jimmy Adamson could have said it with equal feelings of despair. The catalyst for Adamson’s dismissal was the FA Cup defeat at Blackpool. Adamson was asked to resign so it amounted to a sacking. “Scraping the barrel,” wrote Peter Higgs after the game.
“We always seem to be playing uphill,” said Adamson. “We’ve been waiting for the tide to turn in our favour for weeks. But everything still keeps going against us.” At Blackpool a sending off and more bookings meant more forthcoming suspensions. A ‘good’ Colin Waldron goal late on the game was inexplicably disallowed. Former manager Harry Potts was delighted with the result and scoffed at reports that it had been a game of nastiness and bad fouls. The match underlined the paucity of Burnley talent and the need to either buy, or unearth some more gems from the reserves. Neither would happen.
‘I did not believe it when I first heard Jimmy Adamson had resigned. It was the parting that could never happen. Jimmy Adamson, it was thought, was a permanent fixture at Turf Moor, part and parcel of the everyday scene. Everyone thought he had a job for life. He was not just a Burnley player. He WAS BURNLEY right up until those poignant moments on Tuesday when he shook hands with the players and then walked dejectedly out of their lives.
On February 27, 1970 I stood with the Burnley players and Jimmy himself at Gawthorpe to hear Chairman Bob Lord announce he was the new manager. It was a memorable occasion for us all, and the new boss, already with well over 20 years service under his belt, looked a rock solid certainty for another 20. But it was not to be and a few weeks under six years later, exactly 29 years to the day since he arrived as a junior player from the pits of Ashington and signed for Cliff Britton, he was out of a job.
The end came suddenly. It was real knockout for players and fans; just as much as the man it hit straight in the face.I don’t see the situation however as one in which Jimmy Adamson suddenly decided one morning to pack in. The truth is that he was asked to resign because the Board were not happy with him any longer. In falling in line with the request he acted in what he thought were the best interests of the club. There is certainly more to it in my view than has been suggested in print elsewhere. One wonders whether a clash of personalities was involved on top of the on and off the field happenings which added up to a final curtain coming down.
The FA Cup defeat, and this again is so ironical, by a team managed by Harry Potts, was the final major blow, coupled with the unfortunate dressing room row involving a senior player and the new manager.
Burnley’s League position is very poor and Jimmy Adamson must obviously come into the firing line for that, while the bad disciplinary record with one booking following another, plus a sending-off last Saturday does not make a pretty picture. There were I suspect a number of other reasons which privately built up into the Tuesday confrontation at Turf Moor and then the resignation which leaked out soon after Adamson had informed the players.
Apparently, Adamson was not at work at all on Monday and was summoned to Turf Moor at 10.30 on Tuesday morning. As far as his own future is concerned he will swiftly land a top job, but I am convinced he will never completely forget the events of this traumatic week and, believe me, he is not the only one.
Adamson himself in other interviews brushed aside reports that he had been sacked. “I resigned,” he told reporters explaining that he felt personally responsible for the position the club were in.”I think I feel I have let the Burnley public down. They expected greater things. We expected a good Cup run. It has not materialised.” But the reality was he was asked to resign in exchange for a handsome payoff – reported as being £25,000. The scene and conversation with the gruff Bob Lord is not hard to imagine. “Hand me your written resignation, say nowt at all, and the payment you receive will be substantially more than the one you’ll get, if you say owt.”
If Harry Potts was silent, his wife Margaret Potts was privately delighted. Until the day she died she remained angry that husband Harry had been ‘manouevred’ out of Burnley. Behind the scenes, Jimmy Adamson was not everyone’s cup of tea and the gap between Adamson and Chairman Lord was well known. In later years Lord privately admitted that he regretted ever appointing him in the first place. Player Colin Waldron in a newspaper piece wrote that not every player liked Adamson as much as he did. “Let me add this for the record, and this is no secret to Jimmy, there are possibly three or four players at the club who don’t like him quite as much as I do.”
James Mossop in the Sunday Express pointed to differences between Adamson and his coaching staff in a piece: What Really Made Adamson Leave Burnley? The title alone suggested that there was more to his departure than met the eye.
“There is little doubt that problems have arisen between Adamson and the man who has succeeded him, his friend for 25 years Joe Brown, and the coaches.Said Adamson: ‘I will not make any comment that could be detrimental to Burnley. They have given me a wonderful career and a wonderful home and many happy times. I have no quarrel whatsoever with the Chairman, Bob Lord, the directors, the players, or the office staff.’
When I pointed out that he had omitted to mention the assistant manager and coaching staff, he smiled a wry smile. It seems that a gulf has developed between the men who did so much together and that on the unhappy ride back from Blackpool, Adamson decided it was time to leave them to it.”
Add all these factors together; a losing and dispirited team, a poor relationship with Bob Lord, some players who were not in tune with him, and a gulf between him and coaching staff, plus the inevitable thoughts that all good players would eventually be sold to meet the bills, and no wonder Adamson was ready, if saddened, to leave. Mossop wrote of abusive calls that Adamson was receiving, some in the early hours of the morning, his telephone had been made ex-directory, some of the calls directed at his wife May.
The years following season 1974/75 were ones of both professional decline and personal loss for Jimmy Adamson save for one season at Leeds United when there was a sixth placing in the League and a place in Europe the following season.
His time at Sunderland, until October 1978, was one of relegation and then mediocrity. He succeeded Bob Stokoe during the club’s season in Division One ‘76/77. At the time of Stokoe’s departure the club were in no imminent danger of relegation with barely a quarter of the season gone. They were out of the relgeation zone with points and games in hand on the bottom teams. However Adamson experienced the worst start of any Sunderland new manager losing the first seven games and for the first nine games scoring not a single goal. It took them to the foot of the table. The introduction of youth products Shaun Elliot, Kevin Arnott and Gary Rowell, plus the signing of Colin Waldron, Doug Collins and Mick Docherty from Burnley steadied the ship and brought results. (There are stories that Lord had told Joe Brown they should not play for Burnley again). Unfortunately those results were not enough to avoid relegation and Adamson was not exactly the most popular man in Sunderland.
Just before he left, the Burnley versus Sunderland fixture took place at Turf Moor. The connection between the two clubs in terms of ex-Burnley men at Sunderland suggested a possible grudge occasion. It would certainly have been reasonable to surmise that Adamson’s return to Turf Moor was bitter-sweet and that he would have loved to rub Bob Lord’s nose in the dirt. Adamson went home to Sunderland well-satisfied after a 2 – 1 win and a public slanging match with Bob Lord under his belt. But the game itself was a horror show becoming known as ‘The Battle of Turf Moor’.
Sunderland continued their early enterprise and Gary Rowell hit a post after Wayne Entwistle had created an opening. The name of Joe Bolton then entered the ref’s norebook for a foul on Burnley winger Morley. Joe Bolton will be remembered for never making a half-hearted tackle. Regular inhabitants of the Paddocks would testify that his openingsnarl to dainty wingers as he launched his first tackle of the game would invariably be “Eat cinder!” Picture the winger deftly laying the ball into space behind Joe and attempting to ‘run’ him on the outside. Joe would connect and his victim would career through a cloud of dust into the hoardings between the tunnel and the corner flag. Such a tackle had befallen the unforunate Morley.
On the pitch, Burnley’s veteran winger Steve Kindon was cautioned for a tackle on Docherty and then Ken Knighton, on to tend to the injured, was shown the yellow card for enlightening the referee with his observations of the proceedings.
At half time it was Burnley with eleven men 0, Sunderland with nine men and several bookings, 0.
Final score: Burnley 1 – Sunderland (canny bairns) 2 and heights of ecstacy!
It is fair to say that Sunderland fans were not entirely disappointed to see Adamson leave for Leeds United. There is a particularly mocking comment in the Sunderland Love Supreme fanzine that gives an insight into attitudes towards him.
“If I hadn’t had to sell all the best players at Burnley to survive we might well have become the Team of the Seventies. I’m talking about players like Martin Dobson, Leighton James and David Thomas. All these players I had to sell.
“He’s their big hero up there and when they got me they weren’t satisfied. I couldn’t stop them going down in my first year and when I didn’t get them straight up again the fans started chanting ‘Adamson out’. As a manager I expect criticism when things go wrong but it had a terrible effect on the young players. They became afraid to play at Roker Park. Until the Sunderland supporters forget Clough, no other manager is going to have much of a chance at Sunderland.”
In truth Adamson had the same problem at Leeds United except this time the ghost that haunted the place was that of Don Revie. Following him, Brian Clough, Jimmy Armfield and then briefly Jock Stein had taken the manager’s chair. Stein was a legend and an acclaimed choice, a man of accomplishment and aura. But his stay was short-lived and he left to take the Scotland job. Enter Jimmy Adamson and it was a far from popular choice. Fans had seen his ‘failure’ at Sunderland, and news that a manager might have a drinking problem soon travels between sets of supporters.
United supporter Gary Edwards, acclaimed author of Paint it White and Second Coat, gives his version of events.
“Back in the late 70’s Leeds were managed by a certain Jimmy Adamson. To begin with, there was slight unrest amongst Leeds fans, but this was to escalate at a very fast pace. I was part of that rebellion, but to fully understand the fan’s feelings, the full story must be told.
Jimmy Armfield was the manager in the mid 70’s replacing Brian Clough. He took Leeds to the 1975 European Cup Final as well as an FA Cup semi-final. It must be said that the board of directors at Leeds United has never been particularly impressive and this era was no exception.Don Howe was ‘Gentleman Jim’s’ assistant and htey made a great team. Armfield was the tactics man and Howe kept the players in check. However, when Howe left to take the manager’s job at Arsenal, things began to worsen, as certain players were less attentive to Armfield than they were to Howe. This was definitely apparent to the majority of supporters although admittedly we didn’t have the full details to hand. Armfield was given the job of dismantling the great Don Revie team which obviously was no mean feat. It was going to be a slow process, but Armfield set about the task, bringing in such stars as Tony Currie, Brian Flynn and Arthur Graham. Unfortunately for Jim, the board became impatient and sacked Armfield replacing him with the legendary Jock Stein after the first game of the 1978/79 season.
The Leeds fans were furious with the board and vented their anger. But, in fairness Adamson didn’t get off to too bad a start, guiding Leeds into Europe. It soon became apparent, however, that he couldn’t sustain this momentum. Leeds top scorer John Hawley was sold and replaced by the relatively inferior Derek Parlane. Adamson then sold Frank Gray and Tony Currie and brought in Brian Greenhoff and an Argentinian, Alex Sabella, neither of whom made any impression.
The start of the following season wasn’t any better either. The first game was at Elland Road against Aston Villa. A few of us had decided to take the protest inside the ground, and we made a large banner saying simply, ‘Adamson Out’. At the start of the game a mate, Butter, and me got onto the barrier and unfurled our banner. Understandably it received a mixed reaction, and when Leeds went ahead with a Byron Stevenson penalty, some abuse was hurled our way.We stood firm and got back on the barrier and showed the flag once again. A number of coins and other objects were thown in our direction. I hate going ‘against’ the club but we firmly believed that what we were doing was the right thing and we weren’t going to take this lying down. So, Butter and me jumped from the barrier and went off in the direction of where the coins seemed to be coming from to ‘vent our anger’ and others from our group followed. Minor scuffles broke out here and there, and just then, Villa equalised. The mood changed slightly and then almost immediately, Villa went in front. We jumped back on the barrier and once again the flag was raised aloft.
After a very short time, thankfully, the rest of the Kop seemed to be behind us and loud chants of ‘Adamson Out’ rang out. This was then echoed in the South Stand and then all round the ground. Eventually, in October 1980, Adamson bowed to public pressure and resigned leaving football behind him for good. Unfortunately, in my opinion, irreparable damage had been done, and worse was to follow a couple of years down the line.”
After he left, it probably gave Adamson a small measure of satisfaction (whilst he concentrated on Crown Green Bowling) to watch the fans who had jeered him, suffer even more under a procession of managers, grow even more disillusioned, and the club slide lower and lower. Leeds was his last involvement with football. Tired and embittered he turned his back on the game altogether.
His career as a player was one of achievement and elegance and there was a time when his standing in the football world was such that he could have taken any position in the game, including the England job. His later story as a manager, however, is one of unfulfilled ambitions, frustrations and eventual humiliation. He was barracked at some point or another at Burnley, Sunderland and Leeds. Chants of ‘Adamson Out’ rang round all three grounds during his spells at each one. Only at Burnley did he enjoy real pleasure and satisfaction until he found it an impossible task to make further progress, as player after player was sold, and Blackpool booted him out of the Cup. Whilst some players adored him, another group disliked him, finding him arrogant, conceited and lacking in personal skills. Some players in fact described him as duplicitous. When you add to that, the early, untimely and tragic deaths of both his daughters, his story really is, one of eventual broken dreams and personal tragedy.
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 August 2010 )|
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