Burnley are the current talk of the Premier League, with manager Sean Dyche establishing them as a solid top-flight club after bouncing back from the Championship at the first time of asking.
They appear to have come full circle as the Clarets were one of the founder members of the Football League back in 1888.
A Rocky Ride Through the Leagues
The Lancashire outfit were one of the top teams in England either side of World War I and won the First Division title in the 2020-21 season. They were also regularly in the top division between the end of World War II and the mid-1970s.
One more title came in 1959-60 but silverware was confined to the lower leagues since then, with three second-tier titles to their name.
The decade from 1976 to 1987 is not one that the club will look back on with much fondness as they slipped down the divisions – they were close to going out of the Football League in the 1986-87 campaign.
With relegation from the old Division Four now a possibility, Burnley had to beat Leyton Orient in their final game of that season and hope that Lincoln City lost.
Both scenarios occurred, and the seeds of recovery were sown. The following year the Clarets played in front of 80,000 people at Wembley in the Football League Trophy final, going down 2-0 to Wolves.
By 2000, Stan Ternent had guided the team into the second tier where they remained until Owen Coyle took them into the Premier League for the 2009-2010 season.
Coyle’s decision to jump ship midway through the campaign to manage Bolton left the club with a bad taste in its mouth and floundering under Brian Laws, who could not prevent relegation back to the Championship.
Current Bournemouth chief Eddie Howe tried unsuccessfully to guide Burnley back to the promised land and it was the appointment of Dyche in 2012 that made the difference.
The Road to Recovery and a Premier League Return
The former Chesterfield defender’s no-nonsense approach and work ethic saw them promoted for the 2014-15 season but again, it was a one-year stay.
History seems unlikely to be repeating itself this time around however, as the club stuck with him and it paid off. Burnley went straight back up and are now in the second season in the top-flight, sitting just below the top six.
Burnley will never be thought of as a fashionable club, with giants such as Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool all from the same part of the country. But, with Dyche at the helm, the players all know their jobs and it is the collective effort that has seen them shine.
There are some seasoned professionals in the ranks, with the likes of Dean Marney, Jonathan Walters, Sam Vokes and Jack Cork all with plenty of experience. Striker Chris Wood was brought in to provide some firepower up front.
A Hopeful Future
It is impossible to predict how they will fare over the next few seasons but making Turf Moor a fortress has been key.
Home form ensured a second season in the Premier League and they have already won three times and drawn twice on their travels this term. These outcomes include a sensational victory over champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, so progress is clearly being made in that respect as well.
Keeping Dyche is a priority but that may not be easy with Everton said to be keen on the 46-year-old tactician. Whether he leaves or stays, Dyche has put in place some principles that any new manager would be wise to stick to.
There are no superstars at the club and they do not go out and overspend on players, preferring to find a mix of youth and experience and mould them into a tough-to-beat unit.
Burnley is one of the oldest clubs in England and can boast HRH the Prince of Wales as its top celebrity supporter, while WWII hero Field Marshal Bernard ‘Monty’ Montgomery was also a fan.
He outwitted the ‘Desert Fox’ 75 years ago and Burnley fans will hope that the current Clarets general remains at the helm and continues with his battle plan to keep the club where they belong.
Written by Feargal Brennan
Feargal Brennan is a long-suffering Everton fan who turned to European football for respite from the Toffees’ struggles. A frequent radio contributor, Feargal writes on football and betting and is an expert in how to cope when you support a forever frustrating football team.