THE formation of Burton Albion Football Club at a public meeting on 6th July 1950 brought senior football back to the town of Burton-Upon-Trent after a ten-year absence. In the pre-war years Burton could proudly lay claim to three Football League sides in Burton Wanderers, Burton Swifts and Burton United. When Burton Town ceased to exist it left a void to be filled and the Brewers aimed to fill that gap.
Making use of the Wellington Street ground owned by Lloyds Foundry the club began life in the Birmingham League making their bow on 19th August 1950 against Gloucester City in front of more than 5,000 supporters, barely a month after being formed.
The Brewers spent eight years in the Birmingham League and apart from the first and last season’s in that division top half finishes were secured each year. Early cup success came to the club with the Birmingham Senior Cup the first silverware in the trophy cabinet in 1954 and the Staffordshire equivalent added in 1956. That same season saw the club hit the national sporting headlines for the first time when they reached the third round of the FA Cup only to lose 7-0 to the then mighty Charlton Athletic at The Valley.
In 1958 the Brewers took the next stage in their development with the switch to the Southern League and also a move from Wellington Street to Eton Park on the opposite side of the town. The club struggled in the Southern League finishing bottom in their first season and generally struggling in the lower reaches of the league. Cup success continued for the club as they became the first side from outside of the Premier Division to win the Southern League Cup when they beat the then mighty Weymouth 5-2 on aggregate in 1964. The manager at that time was Peter Taylor (the club’s eighth manager) who went on to enjoy a very successful partnership with a certain Brian Clough at both Derby County and later Nottingham Forest.
THE Brewers won promotion to the Southern League Premier Division on three occasions but also suffered relegation from the top division the same number of times as the club sought stability in the upper echelons of non-league football.
The Brewers were agonisingly close to a Wembley appearance when they suffered semi-final heartbreak in the FA Trophy to Matlock Town in 1975. The club also enjoyed the skills of former Nottingham Forest and Manchester United winger Ian Storey-Moore in the mid 1970s and he was persuaded to return in 1978 as player-manager overseeing the Brewers move to the Northern Premier League in 1979 as the non-league world underwent significant change with the advent of the Alliance Premier League (now the Football Conference).
Moore was succeeded in 1981 by another player-manager, ex-Brewers player Neil Warnock, who after cutting his managerial teeth with Gainsborough Trinity proved another shrewd appointment by chairman Ben Robinson during his first period at the helm of the club.
Although not managing to win an elusive league championship Warnock did bring silverware to Eton Park in the shape of the Northern Premier League Challenge Cup beating Macclesfield Town in the final at Maine Road, Manchester in April 1983.
Under the management of the outspoken Warnock, Albion again hit the national headlines in 1985 when they lost in the third round of the F.A.Cup to Leicester City at Derby County’s Baseball Ground.
A 6-1 defeat (including a hat-trick for Gary Lineker) was due in part to the fact that Albion goalkeeper, Paul Evans, was hit by a missile thrown from the crowd. After huge national publicity and a Football Association review the game was replayed behind closed doors at Highfield Road, Coventry with Albion losing by a far more respectable 1-0 scoreline.
WARNOCK was eventually succeeded by his assistant Brian Fidler and under the former Macclesfield man the Brewers eventually reached Wembley in the FA Trophy Final in 1987.
A goalless draw with Conference side Kidderminster Harriers was followed by a replay at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich where 15,685 saw Albion go down 2-1 with midfielder Paul Bancroft missing a late penalty and the Brewers having a Paul Groves header somewhat harshly ruled out.
After eight years in the Northern Premier League the Brewers reverted back to the Southern League as part of a geographical balancing exercise.
Initial high expectations were soon dampened as the club struggled to adapt costing Fidler his job.
Managers came and went but none could deliver the long awaited first league championship the club craved.
Former Everton and Derby defender John Barton delivered a cup double (Southern League Cup and Birmingham Senior Cup) in 1997 but he left the club in September 1998 after a disappointing start to the campaign to be replaced the following month by the most famous manager in the club’s history.
THE town of Burton upon Trent stood up and took notice when Ben Robinson, now in his second spell as Chairman, appointed Nigel Clough, son of the legendary Derby County and Nottingham Forest manager Brian, to the managerial hotseat in October 1998.
Clough brought in former Forest team mate Gary Crosby as his assistant and between them they set about realising the untapped potential of the club. After struggling in the remainder of the 1998-99 season there followed a period of continual improvement that saw the club finish as runners-up in the Southern League Premier Division in successive seasons, just missing out on promotion to the Conference.
Another geographical alignment of the feeder leagues saw Albion return to the Northern Premier (UniBond) League in 2001 but this time it was only a one-season stay as Clough’s team swept all before them winning the first league championship in the club's 52-year history in style.
A league record number of points were gained, over 100 goals scored and just 30 conceded as Albion at last achieved their goal of Conference football.
There was even time for another run to the FA.Trophy semi-finals where eventual winners Yeovil Town crushed dreams of an incredible double.
On the 20th anniversary of his first appointment, Clough discussed his first spell at the Pirelli Stadium with club stalwarts Aaron Webster and Keith Gilroy in an enjoyable interview with BBC Radio Derby - which you can listen to by clicking here.
ALBION'S first three years in the Conference were all played at Eton Park and saw the club finish in the bottom half in each campaign as it became clear that the only way for the club to progress was to move away from their home of more than 45 years, Eton Park.
The Pirelli Stadium was built just a stone’s throw from our former home on the site of the Italian tyre giant’s Sports and Social Club. The Pirelli Stadium has hosted an England ‘C’ international and a UEFA U19 international along with several UEFA U17s matches featuring England, Italy, Sweden and Malta. A Women’s U19s international between England and Scotland also registered the highest ever crowd for a fixture at that level. The ground also hosted the Blue Square North play-off final for three years between 2006 and 2008 and is the regular host of the Independent School’s Football Association junior finals each March.
Although the ground opened for business in July 2005 with a low-key pre-season friendly against Chester City, the ground was officially opened in November 2005 by Manchester United who ironically returned to the Pirelli two months later in the FA Cup Third Round with Albion holding the Premier League giants to a 0-0 draw in front of a then record ground attendance of 6,191 before losing in a replay at Old Trafford.
From there the Brewers kicked on and from being strugglers in the Conference the club moved forwards over the next three years narrowly missing out on the play-offs followed by an unlucky play-off semi-final defeat to Cambridge United - but the move to the Pirelli Stadium had improved the club’s ability to generate significant off-field revenues through the excellent banqueting and conferencing facilities enabled Clough to have the backing to put together the side that ultimately achieved Football League status in the 2008/09 season.
The Brewers racked up an impressive run of 12 straight wins mid-season to streak ahead of the pack and when former manager Nigel Clough left for Derby County in January 2009 with the club in great form it seemed the title was a formality.
But as nerves crept in Albion’s lead was whittled away and the title went to the final day when despite Albion’s 2-1 defeat at Torquay United, Cambridge United’s failure to beat Altrincham handed the Blue Square Premier title to the Brewers.
Ahead of the 2009/10 season the club was granted permission to increase capacity at the Pirelli Stadium to 6,912.
OUR first season in the Football League in 2009 saw former Canadian international striker Paul Peschisolido appointed as Brewers boss, with Gary Rowett named his assistant.
That first season saw the Brewers comfortably consolidate their new-found status with a 13th-place finish but the second term in the Football League was a more difficult campaign, given that the club had to play over half of their league matches in the final three months of the season after numerous postponements left them with up to eight games in hand on their rivals.
From a comfortable position just five points off the play-offs in December thar inactivity meant that at the start of February a relegation battle ensued with a six-game unbeaten run at the end of the season eventually confirming League status for a third season with a game to spare.
The backlog of games was also affected by the club’s best ever FA Cup run. Championship side Middlesbrough were beaten in the third round but the club’s first ever appearance in the fourth round ended in a 3-1 defeat to another Championship side in Burnley.
Peschisolido would leave the club in 2012 with Rowett taking charge, initially on a caretaker basis before getting the job full-time that summer.
Rowett's first full season brought the club's highest ever league finish of fourth in League Two, qualifying for the League Two play-offs against Bradford City. The Brewers won the first leg at Valley Parade 3-2, but the Bantams fought back in the second leg to progress to Wembley and break Albion hearts.
The Brewers bounced back however, and once again reached the play-offs in 2013/14. A narrow first leg win at home to Southend set up a finely-poised second leg at Roots Hall, where Marcus Holness and Adam McGurk sent the Brewers to Wembley with a 3-2 aggregate win.
Over 8,000 Albion fans made the trip to Wembley to see the Brewers make their first appearance there in 27 years. A tight game against Fleetwood Town looked to go either way until Antoni Sarcevic scored with 18 minutes left to consign the Albion to a second successive year of play-off disappointment.
FOLLOWING the disappointment at Wembley in May 2014, Rowett set about building a sustained push for automatic promotion, beginning with his summer 2014 business.
The Brewers boss persuaded, among others, Lucas Akins, Stuart Beavon, Jon McLaughlin, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff and John Mousinho to move to the Pirelli Stadium - all of whom would go on to write their names in the Brewers history books.
Albion started the 2014/15 season promisingly, winning six of the first seven games and sitting third in mid-October when, following a failed approach from Blackpool, Championship side Birmingham City made their approach for Rowett's services and the Albion manager returned to the club he spent two years at as a player in the late 90s.
Chairman Ben Robinson, known for making shrewd appointments to the Pirelli Stadium hotseat, turned to Dutch international and Premier League marksman Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, taking his first managerial role in England following a brief spell in Belgium with Royal Antwerp, with David Oldfield coming in as Hasselbaink's assistant.
Any fears that Hasselbaink may need time to implement his style of play or that the Brewers may stutter in their promotion charge were unfounded - under Hasselbaink, the Brewers lost just three of their next 30 games, powering to a famous promotion, secured away at Morecambe on April 2015.
With promotion secured, the job of winning the Sky Bet League Two title was still to complete. A win over Northampton Town in the final home game of the season put the Brewers in a fine position but in the final match of the season at Cambridge United, in front of a packed away end and despite Stuart Beavon's early goal, the Brewers found themselves 2-1 and a man down following a red card for keeper Jon McLaughlin in the first half.
But an absolute thunderbolt from right-back Phil Edwards and a finish from Kevin Stewart in the 88th minute secured a stunning fightback, three points on the final day and, most importantly, the Sky Bet League Two title.
Hasselbaink had reinforced in January - bringing in the likes of Tom Naylor, Callum Reilly and Nasser El Khayati - and strengthened again the following summer with Mark Duffy, Calum Butcher and others as the Brewers prepared for a first ever season in the third tier of English football.
A scintillating opening day victory over Scunthorpe United set the tone - and by the time Hasselbaink, like Rowett before him, had been approached by a Championship club and joined QPR, the Brewers were top of League One following a 1-0 win over Millwall in December 2015.
Who could come in and keep Albion's momentum going forward, as Hasselbaink had done so effectively the previous year, and sustain another promotion push?
Enter Nigel Clough - making an emotional return to the Pirelli Stadium nearly seven years after leaving for Derby County and tasked with maintaining Albion's incredible start to 2015/16.
The form of resurgent Wigan Athletic and Walsall sides put the Brewers under pressure - but a famous 92nd-minute winner from Naylor against Gillingham in the penultimate game of the season sent the Pirelli Stadium into raptures and ensured that all we needed on the final day was a point.
A tense affair in boiling heat at Doncaster Rovers, as Walsall quickly scored the five goals they needed to overturn their goal difference deficit in case Albion were defeated, ended in glory and as Phil Edwards took a throw-in deep into stoppage time, the final whistle blew and Burton Albion celebrated an unprecedented achievement - reaching the Sky Bet Championship, just seven years after reaching the Football League.
WITH promotion to the second tier secured, the daunting task for manager Nigel Clough and chairman Ben Robinson was to build a side to compete in the Championship, against the likes of Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Leeds United, among others.
The club's record transfer fee was broken twice in a week that summer - with Kyle McFadzean joining from MK Dons before Australian central midfielder Jackson Irvine was signed from Scottish Premiership from Ross County. Former Leicester City winger Lloyd Dyer was among the free transfers arriving that summer, while Jamie Ward, Chris O'Grady, Will Miller and Hamza Choudhury, fresh off a successful loan spell with Albion in the second half of the previous season, were four of five loanees added to the squad.
The fifth loan player was a familiar face - John Brayford, who had risen through the Brewers youth ranks before moving to Crewe Alexandra less than a decade earlier, was signed from Sheffield United, reuniting him again with Clough for a fourth spell under the Brewers boss.
The opening day fixture could not have been better fitting, either - Albion were tasked with going to the City Ground, home of former European Cup winners Nottingham Forest, on a sunny Saturday afternoon in August, the club for whom Nigel Clough had scored more than 100 goals under the management of his father, Brian.
That game would live long in the memory and though Albion would be on the wrong side of a seven-goal thriller, their attacking endeavour, which resulted in three goals, summed up much of their approach to the 2016/17 season - a marker had been laid down at the City Ground.
That first win was just around the corner - goals from McFadzean, Irvine and Dyer secured a 3-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday at the Pirelli Stadium on August 16, just 10 days shy of one of the most famous wins in our club's history.
Derby County had long been visitors to the Pirelli Stadium but only in pre-season friendlies and Bass Charity Vase ties - and the first competitive meeting between the sides, on Friday 26 August 2016, saw the Rams visit the Pirelli on equal terms.
And a 12th-minute header from Irvine - who would go on to be top scorer that season with 10 goals - was the crucial difference between the two sides on the night as the Brewers took a famous 1-0 win under the Pirelli lights.
More famous moments would follow over the course of the 2016/17 season, from Will Miller's 93rd-minute equaliser at Molineux to Jamie Ward's stunning bicycle kick at a packed Villa Park on Boxing Day.
Michael Kightly scored a spectacular goal of his own at home to Norwich City, nipping the ball over the last defender's head before lobbing keeper John Ruddy all in the same move, while Irvine took the Brewers four points clear of the drop zone with seven games to play when he finished a counter-attack from a Marvin Sordell cut-back as Clough's side beat eventual play-off winners Huddersfield Town 1-0 away from home.
That gap was cut to two points following a tough run of fixtures against Villa, Newcastle and Ipswich Town, but consecutive wins over Birmingham City and Leeds United took Albion six points clear of the danger zone with two games to play - and Luke Varney's equaliser at Oakwell in a 1-1 draw with Barnsley ensured that the Brewers would spend another season in the second tier of English football, Clough's side finishing 20th in their first season at this level.
Once again Clough was busy in the transfer market that summer, bringing former Player of the Year Jake Buxton back to the club on a free transfer from Wigan Athletic and making the loan moves of Brayford and Miller permanent.
Jamie Allen and Matty Lund were brought in from Rochdale while Albion's record transfer fee was broken again, paid again to Ross County but this time for the services of striker Liam Boyce, top scorer in the Scottish Premiership the previous season with 23 goals.
The Brewers would lose the services of McLaughlin, Irvine and Mousinho that summer, while Boyce suffered an ACL injury in a pre-season friendly at Shrewsbury Town, ruling him out of action until at least the new year.
Albion would find their start to the 2017/18 season a lot tougher than the previous one, winning just twice in their opening 15 games.
There were still many memorable wins along the way - a 2-1 win at home to Birmingham City in August and the brilliant 3-0 victory away at Sheffield Wednesday on New Year's Day 2018, voted Team Performance of the Season at the end-of-season awards, while the Goal of the Season award would be won by Jamie Allen as he finished a fine team move, built straight from kick-off, with a thunderbolt from distance.
Following a heavy defeat at home to Hull City, the Brewers were at the bottom of the table and seven points adrift with four games to play - but a fantastic run of three successive wins, including yet another famous win over Derby County at the Pirelli, meant Albion were only in the bottom three on goal difference heading into the final day of the season.
Clough's men had given themselves a chance and, with four minutes to play and the score at Preston North End at 1-1, were technically safe from relegation with Bolton Wanderers losing at Nottingham Forest. But a quick turnaround at the City Ground, followed by a late winner for Preston, meant that the Brewers were relegated for the first time in more than 40 years.
BURTON Albion's first season back in Sky Bet League One following relegation from the Championship saw the Brewers overcome a difficult start to make national headlines on the pitch before 2018 had even come to a conclusion.
That summer had seen Nigel Clough work to retain as much of his Championship squad as possible with many players remaining on for the new season - with the likes of Scott Fraser, David Templeton and Stephen Quinn arriving on free transfers and Jake Hesketh and Brad Collins making impacts on loan.
One win and four defeats from the opening five league games of the season emphasised the "hangover effect" the club was suffering following a first relegation in over 40 years.
But while the Brewers got over that poor start in the league to finish ninth by the end of the season, it was in the Carabao Cup where they truly strived in 2018/19.
A tight 2-1 win, coming from behind no less, at Shrewsbury Town, led to a home clash against then-Championship side Aston Villa.
And in a dramatic encounter, Liam Boyce's 52nd-minute strike was enough to settle a lively encounter that saw Kyle McFadzean sent off for a deliberate handball in the 89th minute before Harry Campbell, making his Albion debut in goal after coming on for the injured Stephen Bywater, saved the resulting spot kick from Albert Adomah to ensure passage to the third round.
This time, Premier League opposition awaited as the Pirelli Stadium again played host - Sean Dyche's Burnley arrived in town and duly took the lead through Kevin Long just shy of half-time.
But goals from Boyce and Jamie Allen in the second half swung the tie completely and the Brewers, again, advanced, at the expense of higher-level opposition.
Another home tie in the fourth round followed, with Nottingham Forest this time the visitors but once again, in front of the Sky Sports cameras, it would be the Brewers coming out on top in a fantastically entertaining game, Fraser netting twice before a stunning volley from Hesketh ensured Albion went through to the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time in our history.
But we were not done there. A visit to Middlesbrough, another Championship side, saw the hosts at the Riverside dominate possession but Albion would prove more clinical. A low shot from Fraser bounced off the foot of the post and, in a great instinctive action, Hesketh dispossessed the defender on the edge of the box to turn it home from distance.
Albion's defence, led expertly by Jake Buxton and John Brayford, held firm to send us through to the semi-finals and the final four of the competition - where none other than Pep Guardiola's Manchester City awaited.
City went strong in the first leg and overpowered the Brewers over two legs - but that run to the semi-finals of a national cup competition firmly put the ghosts of the previous season's relegation to rest.
Regardless of the result or scoreline - it had been a magnificent run to the final four and the Brewers, rightly, could be proud of their exploits on the national stage.
Another fantastic Carabao Cup performance would follow in the 2019/20 season as the Brewers beat Premier League side AFC Bournemouth 2-0 in the second round, before a strong and clinical Leicester City side knocked the Brewers out of the competition at the third round.
Our 70th season saw us competing in League One for a second consecutive season, and the Brewers sat 12th in the league following a 2-2 draw at home to Bolton Wanderers.
And that would be the last competitive football played at the Pirelli Stadium before the following September - and the last time fans would be in a ground for nearly 18 months.
THE COVID-19 pandemic had put paid to the 2019/20 season, with the Brewers ultimately finishing 12th under the "points-per-game" ruling used to determine how the season should conclude.
Amid all the uncertainty that the pandemic threw up for people, as well as football clubs and businesses, all over the world, Burton Albion would confirm that, in order to help the club with the financial pressures of the pandemic, that manager Nigel Clough, assistant Gary Crosby and chief scout Simon Clough would all step down from their roles.
Club captain Jake Buxton was named manager in Clough's stead in his first managerial role, and stepped back from the playing side as he took on the tough task of leading the Brewers in the behind-closed-doors season of 2020/21.
Ultimately, Buxton would leave the Brewers in December to be replaced by a returning Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink on New Year's Day, with Dino Maamria as his assistant manager, tasked with lifting Albion from the foot of the Sky Bet League One table.
Their job began well as the Brewers kept a first league clean sheet of the season, with a 1-0 win away at Gillingham courtesy of a debut goal from young on-loan defender Hayden Carter.
A narrow defeat at home to Ipswich Town was followed by back-to-back wins over eventual champions Hull City and relegation rivals Northampton Town, and while the Brewers would lose to Sunderland in their next home game, that defeat would only inspire a fantastic run of six consecutive wins against Charlton Athletic, Rochdale, Bristol Rovers, Peterborough United, AFC Wimbledon and Crewe Alexandra.
By the time Kane Hemmings had hit a first-half hat-trick in that Crewe win, Albion were not only out of the relegation zone but had built a buffer of seven points to it, a remarkable 15-point swing in less than three months.
Further victories over Swindon Town, Portsmouth and Doncaster Rovers would follow before safety was incredibly secured with three games to play in a 1-1 draw away at Wigan Athletic, completing the Great Escape and a remarkable turnaround from the winter.
Heading into the 2021/22 season, Hasselbaink and Maamria have added several new faces to the Burton Albion squad as we look to compete in the third tier once again this term.
SKY BET LEAGUE ONE
Runners-up 2015/2016 (promoted to Sky Bet Championship)
SKY BET LEAGUE TWO
Champions 2014/2015 (promoted to Sky Bet League One)
FOOTBALL CONFERENCE (BLUE SQUARE PREMIER):
NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION (UNIBOND LEAGUE):
NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD:
NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE CHALLENGE CUP:
Winners 1982/83 (v Macclesfield Town)
SOUTHERN FOOTBALL LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION:
Runners-up 1999/2000, 2000/2001
SOUTHERN FOOTBALL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD:
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CUP:
Winners 1963/1964 (v Weymouth) | 1996/97 (v Sudbury Town) | 1999/2000 (v Hastings Town)
BIRMINGHAM SENIOR CUP:
Winners 1953/1954 (v Brierley Hill) | 1996/1997 (v Tamworth)
Runners-up: 1969/1970, 1970/1971, 1986/1987, 2007/2008
STAFFORDSHIRE SENIOR CUP:
Winners 1955/1956 (v Tamworth)
NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE PRESIDENT'S CUP:
Runners-up 1982/1983, 1985/1986
Semi-finalists: 1974/1975, 2001/2002, 2004/2005
MIDLAND FLOODLIT CUP:
Winners 1975/1976 (v Alfreton Town)
BASS CHARITY VASE:
Winners: 11 times (latest win 2021 - v Leicester City)
12-1 v. Coalville Town, Birmingham Senior Cup, 06/09/54.
0-10 v. Barnet, Southern League Premier Division 07/02/70.
Liam Boyce from Ross County (2017 - fee undisclosed)
Fourth round proper (v Burnley - 2010/11)
Third round proper (v Charlton Athletic 1955/56, v Leicester City 1984/85, v Manchester United 2005/06, v Northampton Town 2019/20)
Semi-finals (v Manchester City 2018/19)
Highest league structure finish:
20th in Sky Bet Championship (2016/17)
PLAYERS CAPPED FOR SENIOR SIDE WHILE PLAYING FOR BURTON ALBION:
Kieran O'Hara (Republic of Ireland)
Jackson Irvine (Australia)
Liam Boyce, Jamie Ward, Tom Flanagan (Northern Ireland)
Aurelien Joachim (Luxembourg)
Josh Parker (Antigua & Barbuda)
PLAYERS CAPPED FOR YOUTH SIDE WHILE PLAYING FOR BURTON ALBION:
Terry Taylor, Nathan Broadhead (Wales U21s)
Teddy Sharman-Lowe (England U17s)
Daniel Jebbison (England U19s)
PLAYERS CAPPED AT SEMI-PROFESSIONAL LEVEL:
Aaron Webster, Darren Stride, Dale Anderson, Dougie Newton, Stewart Mell, Gary Clayton, Jon Shaw, Shaun Harrad, John Brayford.
The following players moved from Burton Albion to Football League clubs during our time as a non-league club:
Richie Barker (Derby County), Ian Hutchinson (Chelsea), Steve Buckley (Luton Town), Peter Ward (Brighton & Hove Albion), Paul Haycock (Rotherham United), Richard Jobson (Watford), Gary Clayton (Cambridge United), Paul Groves (Leicester City), John Gayle & Steve Cotterill (Wimbledon), Darren Carr (Crystal Palace), Darren Roberts (Wolves), Matt Duke (Hull City), Daniel Crane (Rushden & Diamonds), John Brayford (Crewe Alexandra).