Burnley Football Club
History of Burnley FC: 140 Years of Making English Football History
Burnley FC History and Highlights.
Founded in 1882, Burnley FC was based in Lancashire and was one of the founding members of the Football League in the 1888/1889 season. The club became the English Champions on two occasions and the FA Cup champions once. This article contains a concise and chronological history of the popular English football club.
The Beginning and First Successes
It may be surprising to learn that the football club started as a rugby team. It was in 1882 that the players in the rugby club, known as Burnley Rovers, voted to switch codes to association football, in line with what other sports clubs were doing.
Professionalism and First Silverware
The club became professional a year later, in 1883, but not before winning its first trophy, the Dr. Dean Cup, a football competition between amateur teams in the Burnley Area. After going professional, the club would go on to sign a lot of Scottish players.
Joining the Football Association
However, Burnley could not join the Football Association at the time because of the association’s ban on professional players. Burnley led 35 other football clubs to form a breakaway British Football Association (BFA). This break away placed pressure on the Football Association, and in 1885, after changing its rule, Burnley and other teams were able to join the association and play in the 1885/1886 season.
The football club also made history in 1886 when its Turf Moor ground became the first professional ground to receive the British Royalty as Prince Albert Victor came to watch the friendly match between Bolton Wanderers and Burnley Football Club.
Founding the Football League and More Silverware
When the Football League was formed in 1888/1889, Burnley was one of the twelve founding members and one of the six clubs from Lancashire. The club beat Blackburn Rovers in the finals in the following season to win the Lancashire Cup. Burnley got its first relegation into the Second Division in the 1896/1897 season but would go on to win the division the next season and get promoted back into the First Division. The club was relegated in the 1899/1900 season and stayed there until 1912/1913.
Under the auspices of John Haworth, the new manager, Burnley won its promotion back to the First Division in the 1912/1913 season. The club won its first FA in the following season, beating Liverpool in the 1914 finals. The club also finished second to West Bromwich Albion in 1919/1920 before winning its first First Division league trophy in the 1920/1921 season.
The club remained a force to reckon with in the First Division for the next nine seasons that followed the league victory, and in 1930, Burnley FC was relegated again to the Second Division. The club even narrowly missed relegation to the third tier of English football in the 1931/1932 season. From this season on to the outbreak of the Second World War, Burnley could only manage mid-table finishes in the Second Division.
The Golden Era
As league football continued after the Second World War, Burnley returned stronger as it won its promotion into the First Division in the first post-war season. The club would reach the 1947 FA Cup finals but be defeated by Charlton Athletic in the final.
The club kept on the good form and won its second First Division championship in the 1959/1960 season. This victory made the town of Burnley the smallest in English history to have a first-tier English Champion. The club also played in the European Championship the next season, losing to Hamburg in the Quarter Finals.
The club would also finish second to Ipswich Town in the same season in the First Division. It became another runner-up in the 1962 FA Cup competition, losing to Tottenham Hotspurs in the finals.
Financial Woes and Effect on Performance
The abolishment of the maximum wage in 1961 made things difficult for the club. This meant that it could not compete favorably with other richer clubs. One of the club’s biggest players, Mcllroy, would leave controversially to Stoke City in 1963, which affected the club’s performance. Burnley FC still managed to hold its place in the First Division, finishing third in the 1965/1966 season and qualifying for the 1966/1967 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
Finally, relegation came in the 1970/1971 season, but it was only for a short time. The team won the Second Division Championship and was invited to play the FA Community Shield against Manchester City, which it won. Another wave of decline began in 1975 when a club in the Southern League, Wimbledon, beat Burnley at Turf Moor to knock the team out of the FA Cup competition. The club would relegate in the following year, 1976, and had to sell some of its star players to offset debts made worse by reduced home attendances.
The thing got worse for the club as it got relegated to the Third Division in the 1979/1980 season. Burnley FC managed to return to the Second Division as champions of the Third Division, but the return only lasted a year as the club was relegated again in 1984. It got worse as the team was relegated to the Fourth Division at the end of the 1984/1985 season. The team had to struggle against relegation to the Football Conference in 1986/1987 by winning its last match of the season while its rival lost. The club also lost the Associate Member Cup final to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
A glimpse of Hope and Premier League Football
Things started getting better when Burnley FC won the fourth division in the 1991/1992 season, making it the second club after Wolverhampton Wanderers to win all the English Football Championship tiers. In the Third Division, Burnley won the Second Division play-offs in 1993/1994, promoted to the Second Division.
Burnley FC got relegated back to the Third Division in the following season, and a final day victory prevented the relegation to Fourth Division. In the 1999/2000 season, the club won another promotion into the Second Division. In the 2008/2009 season, Burnley FC finally won its promotion into the Premier League beating Sheffield United in the Championship Play-offs.
Back in European Football
Back in the Premier League, Burnley FC managed only a season despite starting the season well. Under the managerial auspices of Sean Dyche, the club won another promotion into the Premier League in the 2013/2014 season.
This promotion also lasted for only one season before another relegation. But this time, it didn’t take long for the club to come back as it won the Second Division (now known as Championship) in the 2015/2016 season. The club finished seventh in the 2017/2018 season and qualified for the UEFA Europa League for 2018/2019. The club’s travails in Europe didn’t last long as the club was eliminated in the play-off by Olympiacos.
In 2020, an American business, ALK Capital, bought an 84% stake in Burnley FC for 170 million pounds, making history as the first time the local businessman or Burnley Supporters would not run the club. The club lost a final day match to get relegated back to the Championship in the 2021/2022 season.
Burnley FC Honors and Achievements
Burnley FC has won numerous championships across multiple divisions. These are some of its highlights:
- First Division Championship: 1920/1921 and 1959/1960
- Second Division Championships: 1897/1898, 1972/1972, and 2015/2016
- Third Division Championship: 1981/1982
- Fourth Division: 1991/1992
- FA Cup Winner: 1913/1914
- FA Charity Shield: 1960, 1973
- Texaco Cup: 1973/1974
- Anglo-Scottish Cup: 1978/1979
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