MEMORIES of an explosive Lancashire derby, referred to at the time as the Battle of Turf Moor, were revived today...more than three years on.

Wanderers full-back Nicky Spooner has confirmed he is suing John Gayle and Burnley Football Club for damages as a result of the broken leg he sustained in that ill-tempered game.

Now the events of Saturday, October 8, 1994 are to be the subject of a case at the High Court, where the 75th minute tackle that almost ended Spooner's career, will be examined in detail.

It was a tackle that sparked angry confrontation on the field, spilling bad blood between the long-standing Lancashire neighbours, and led to controversial claims and counter-claims in the immediate post-match inquest.

Wanderers were upset because they knew the severity of Spooner's injury and believed Gayle was responsible. Burnley cried 'foul' because John McGinlay ignored the so-called "sportsman's code" and refused to throw the ball to an opponent in an incident that led to Wanderers' debutant Simon Coleman scoring a late equaliser!

Burnley manager Jimmy Mullen angrily accused Wanderers of "cheating". But the fiercest of attacks were directed at Gayle, who had been booked for the tackle by Oldham referee Paul Harrison and angered many behind the scenes with his comment: "If I'd meant to go for him, he'd have had two broken legs!"

When tempers later cooled, Gayle was more sympathetic, admitting: "I'm very upset about it but it could just as easily have been me going to hospital.

"There was no way I intended to injure him." Spooner had been earmarked to play a key role in Wanderers' bid to hit the big time.

Manchester-born, he joined the club from school, made his Central League debut while still only 15 and was considered captaincy material as he emerged as a talented and respected right-back.

The presence of Phil Brown - an awesomely consistent defender and inspirational captain - baulked his progress into the first team and his prospects were not helped when he was sidelined by a niggling problem with his left ankle.

But October 1994 presented him with his big chance, ironically when Neil McDonald - Brown's replacement at right-back - had suffered a broken leg himself and Alan Stubbs was injured. Spooner played impressively in the No 2 shirt as Wanderers beat Premier League Ipswich in the Coca-Cola Cup but in his second comeback game at Burnley his dream turned into a nightmare.

Spooner plays regularly now in Wanderers' Reserves and is hoping to rebuild his career. But he has not been considered for first team duties for more than three years.

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