Lee Howey Talks About How He Regrets Signing For Burnley
Lee Howey is a man of very few regrets after a career that saw him win a Championship title with his beloved Sunderland. However, his exit from the Black Cats to Burnley who paid a very respectable £200k for him is one thing he does regret.
After starting his professional career in Belgium, then Sunderland manager Terry Butcher would bring Howey to Sunderland after scouting him at Bishop Auckland. A versatile player who could play both in central defence or up front, however it wasn’t until Peter Reid arrived on sea-side that he finally started playing regular football making thirty appearances in the 1995-96 title-winning season.
Howey grew frustrated with his lack of first-team chances at Roker Park and asked to leave the club, just as his former Sunderland team-mate Chris Waddle became Burnley player manager, a move happened but only because as Howey himself puts it “I got pissed.”
In his upcoming autobiography Massively Violent and Decidedly Average, Howey writes, I just wanted to play so I rang Richard Ord’s agent and asked if there was anything doing at other clubs. After training one Thursday afternoon at about four o’clock while I was having a barbecue, Peter Reid phoned me saying. “Lee, we have just accepted an offer from Burnley for you. Let me tell you we don’t want you to go. But I know you’ve been a bit frustrated lately, so it’s entirely up to you.”
I told him that I wouldn’t mind listening to what Waddle had to say, four hours later I had checked into a hotel in Burnley. After dinner, in came Mr Waddle accompanied by Burnley’s reserve team manager Gordon ‘Sid’ Cowans. I had admired Sid for many years, mainly from his glory days at Aston Villa where he was a midfielder of the highest order. He was still playing now at thirty-eight having been signed from Stockport County a few days earlier and his presence helped to seduce me. Also in attendance was Glen Roeder (Assistant Manager) and Chris Woods (Player/Goalkeeping Coach), plus the agent.
Chris Waddle gave me his pitch, what he planned for this grand old club and how I fitted into his plans. As more drinks went down negotiations reached ever-increasing technical levels and became intricately detailed in their content. Below is the conversation which in the end made me sign for Burnley Football Club.
Waddle – Go on, Lee. Sign. It’ll be great.
Me – I dunno.
Waddle – Pleeeease.
Me – Dunno.
Waddle – Go on, Sign, I’ll buy you another drink.
Me – I’ll think about it.
Waddle – Go on.
Me – Er, All right then I’ll sign.
By then it was 3am and the worst decision ever made, I did score on my debut and played thirty games that season, before Chris Waddle resigned at the end of the season and I was eventually moved on to Northampton Town. The only good thing about the move to Burnley was that I met my now wife whilst at the club.