Burnley and Blackburn Rovers had been contesting professional fixtures since the first Football League season of 1888/89 where Blackburn dominated, winning 7-1 at Burnley and 4-2 at home. But we look at a cup-tie contested between the two bitter rivals of English Football which took place on 12 March 1960. The two First Division sides had already played out at Turf Moor a week previous with Burnley being the victors in a one goal win whilst in its previous October the Rovers won at Ewood Park by three goals to two - clearly this wasn't going to be a foregone conclusion and a very tight knit game.
This would in fact be the third season on the spin that the FA Cup had brought these two teams together with each side having won a tie, leaving things pretty even in the betting stakes. Burnley, who had also beaten Nottingham Forest by eight goals to nil were third in the table, just three points behind leaders Tottenham Hotspur prior to this cup tie, whilst Rovers were languishing in thirteenth.
The Clarets had disposed of Lincoln City (2-0), Swansea Town (2-1) and Bradford City (5-0) with the aid of replay's to set up a glamour tie against their rivals. Meanwhile Blackburn had overcome Sunderland (4-1 (replay), Blackpool (3-0 (replay)) and Tottenham Hotspur (3-1) to reach the Quart-Finals.
Saturday, 12 March 1960 - Turf Moor
The distinctive FA Cup tie between the Clarets and the Blue and Whites of the Lancashire duo was certainly a game of two halves at Turf Moor. It is often much the cliché but this tie had little to offer the paying spectators during the first half of play. Burnley rarely attacked whilst Rover too only saw goal on the odd occasion whilst the second became more skilful and an enjoyable sight to behold. However the critics had suggested that Jimmy McIlroy, Burnley's veteran forward was not fully fit, his quite presence deemed to suggest this. However with fifteen minutes of play gone he had mastered his old tricks to lay on the openings for his fellow Clarets to score twice.
First, trapped in a crowded Blackburn goal-mouth he cleverly hooked the ball away and into the path of the unmarked Brian Pilkington whose fine shot did the talking. Ten minutes later McIlroy ran past three defenders and headed towards the corner flag where he produced a low cross for Ray Pointer to finish; 2-0. Adamson then moved the point of attack from left to right with a long cross to John Connelly and the future Rovers forward raced clear to score and put the hosts three goals to the good.
The Burnley looked certain to have booked a place in the semi-finals, but the game took an all important and dramatic change when an harmless-looking kick into the Clarets penalty-area caused Elder some trouble; the ball bounced awkwardly off his boot and onto his hand with referee Mr Hunt pointing to the spot. Bryan Douglas, the Rovers forward wasn't going to waste this glorious opportunity which had been bestowed upon him, all he had to do was beat Adam Blacklaw in the opposing goal and the Ewood club were back in the game.
He took his chance brilliantly and whilst the majority of the 51,501 crowd didn't seem to think that his goal would make much difference to the following days tabloid reports it was to give some fight-back to the visiting team and would find a further two more goals and earn a replay at Ewood Park in four days time. With fifteen minutes remaining Douglas surged through to give Peter Dobing a sight of goal, his shot was low and true and within a whisker of levelling the scores. Clayton moved into the danger zone, one of his shots was blocked but the ball fell kindly to Mick McGrath who bundled home the rebound; 3-3.
The tie would go to a replay and the winners would face Sheffield Wednesday who had beaten rivals Sheffield United by two goals to nil at Bramall Lane the same day.
Burnley: - Blacklaw, Angus, Elder, Seith, Miller, Adamson, Connelly, McIlroy, Pointer, Robson., Pilkington.
Blackburn Rovers: -Layland, Bray, Whelan, Clayton, Woods, McGrath, Bimpson, Dobing, Dougan, Douglas, MacLeod.
Referee: - J. W. Hunt (Portsmouth)
Tuesday, 16 March 1960 - Ewood Park
The return fixture at Ewood Park resulted in only one victor, but required 30 minutes of extra-time to decide the outcome of this epic cup-tie which had sprung many surprises in its initial game at Turf Moor. Burnley disappointed themselves during the proceedings of the match and whilst still locked goalless only mustered meaningful attacks with five minutes of the ninety remaining with goals from Dobing and MacLeod settling the tie in the forthcoming extra-time to follow and set up a semi-final tie with Wednesday at Manchester City's Maine Road stadia.
Despite their lacklustre prowess in attack, to their credit they were closely tight knit in defence and were able to contain any of the Rovers advances. Dobing produced the main threat that saw two fine attempts at goal kept out in the first half and another one blocked by Angus in the second. McGrath was the finest player on the pitch and there defence was well organised too.
But Blackburn had to wait until after 90 minutes to settle this cup-tie which they had fought so hard to save in its initial fixture. With 13 minutes gone Dobing scored with an 18 yard effort, firing through a number of players past Blacklaw after Douglas had made ground on the left. The tie was over when two minutes from the final whistle a long throw from Clayton was headed home by Ally MacLeod; 2-0.
Blackburn Rovers: - Layland, Bray, Whelan, Clayton, Woods, McGrath, Bimpson, Dobing, Dougan, Douglas, MacLeod.
Burnley: - Blacklaw, Angus, Elder, Seith, Miller, Adamson, Connelly, McIlroy, Pointer, Robson, Pilkington.
Referee: - J. W. Hunt (Portsmouth)
Burnley would end the season has First Division Champions, whilst Blackburn defeated Sheffield Wednesday by two goals to one at Maine Road in the Semi-Final before they were thrashed 3-0 by Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Final at Wembley. In the league they finished a disappointing 17th.