Blackpool Football Club memory match

Dave Durie with Blackpool author Robin Daniels and Ray Charnley
Dave Durie with Blackpool author Robin Daniels and Ray Charnley
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Burnley 1, Blackpool 4, October 10, 1959

The recent death at the age of 85 of Dave Durie was a poignant reminder of Blackpool in their pomp when they could hold their own with the best that English club football could offer.

And he was Blackpool to the bone, playing with distinction in excess of 300 times for the Seasiders.

Not only was he a fine footballer, but as all those who crossed his path will testify, he was a gentleman both on and off the field.

He was never booked or sent off in his long, distinguished career.

This was properly marked back in 1963 when, under the aegis of the game’s union, the Professional Footballers’ Association, he was voted by the players and the managers in the English game as a shining example of someone who had never been reprimanded by the referee.

Colleagues at the time testified to his sense of fair-play, not to mention his talent to score goals and the way he adapted to the team’s needs by his uncomplaining ability to fill a variety of roles when asked to successive managers Joe Smith and Ron Suart.

He had stamina to burn too and never flagged - he played in the days well before multiple substitutions and rotation policies which enabled players to have a deserved rest.

It was later wonder that in his days at Baines School, he was victor ludorum of the cross country scene.

He also made a small piece of Seasiders’ history in 1960 when he became the first Blackpool player to score in the Football League, the FA Cup and the League Cup.

Even more impressive was the fact that Durie was part of the Blackpool team that finished in their highest-ever position in the Football League, runners-up to Manchester United, no less, in the 1955-56 seaon.

They were fourth and seventh in the season after that.

Gerry Wolstenholme has warm memories of Durie, who scored 84 goals for Blackpool in 301 league games for the Seasiders.

One incident in particular springs to mind to Wolstenholme when many moons ago he travelled with his dad to Elland Road to watch Blackpool play.

The sports historian said: “The score was 1-1 and George Farm got injured and Dave had to go in goal.

“He made one save near the end that was so good that it was worth the admission money alone to see.

“It wasn’t the only time he went in goal when a player got injured either.

“He had a fantastic scoring record and what you have to remember is that in his last few years at the club he was playing at left-half.

“As well as that in all his time at Blackpool, Dave was a part-time professional.

“I met him a lot and he was a lovely man - I also went to Baines School so we had that in common.

“His family used to have a greengrocer’s business in Elizabeth Street and I used to make a special point of going there when I knew that Dave was helping out and I used to talk to him about the game had gone on the Saturday.”

Wolstenholme has vivid memories too of this week’s memory match when Blackpool went to Turf Moor and put one over their Lancashire rivals to some tune.

He said: “It was the season that Burnley won the league title, but Blackpool beat them.

“I recall we got talking to some Burnley fans before the match - there was no kind of trouble. It was all very friendly, not like today.

“The Burnley fans were saying what they were going to do and told them Blackpool would murder them.

“I wondered whether I had said the wrong thing making a prediction like that.

“Luckily for me, I was right and we won 4-1 - and Dave got a hat-trick!”

The day of that famous win was a busy one on the sporting scene.

Those who did not journey to East Lancashire to watch the first team and decided to go to Bloomfield Road to watch the old Central League clash with Liverpool were royally rewarded with a goal-fest.

Blackpool went down by the remarkable scoreline of 6-5!

Tony Waiters, who not long later was to keep goal for England, had a traumatic day, having to fish the ball out of the net on six occasions.

It was very much a strong Blackpool team with their scorers being players of a high calibre such as Bruce Crawford (2) Peter Hauser and Leslie Lea - the other Blackpool goal was an own-goal.

The late Peter Myerscough was on duty to watch Thornton Cleveleys rugby team draw 8-8 with Cheadle Hulme, ‘Rodney’ as he was universally known to his Gazette colleagues making a point of how the hard grounds were not conducive to good rugby.

“Rugby is not a game for concrete,” he opined.

Fleetwood Town FC, a million miles away from where they are now, drew 2-2 with Rossendale United.

Meantime over in East Lancashire at Turf Moor, the Clarets took an early lead through Jimmy Robson - later to play for the Seasiders, but that was as good as it got for the home side.

Durie notched a hat-trick and the other goal came from Arthur Kaye.

The Gazette’s man on the spot Don Creedy described the victory over a team later to be crowned champions as the best of the season.

One of Durie’s goals earned the description ‘glorious’ and he took the other two ‘with relish.’

Even though Burnley lost heavily to Blackpool, it turned out to be a triumphant season for them under manager Harry Potts, later to become boss at Bloomfield Road.

They won the title, with Wolverhampton Wanderers in second place, while the Seasiders had to be content with ‘only’ 11th place in the top flight of English football...

Player of the year was Bill Slater, of Wolves, who had earlier had a spell as an amateur at Blackpool prior to his move to the Midlands.

*A funeral service for Durie is at Lindale Methodist Church on September 14, starting at 11.30am, prior to a service at Lytham Crematorium.