When Paul Comstive joined the Clarets from Wrexham in the summer of 1987, in the aftermath of the Orient game, he had already notched around 150 league appearances for his four clubs.
He’d started his career as a youngster with Blackburn Rovers and made his league debut for them in a game against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough in October 1980. It wasn’t the start of a fruitful first team career at Ewood Park though and he went on to make just two more appearances for them before signing for Rochdale on loan in 1982.
At Spotland he scored his first goals but returned to Blackburn after playing nine games for them. That was in September 1982, but in the following summer he made the move to Wigan Athletic where, for just over a year, he was a regular in the side.
That was at left back and it was in that position he played against Burnley for the first time, during the John Bond season at Turf Moor he was at left back in the side we beat 3-0 at Turf Moor with goals from Brian Flynn, Tommy Hutchison and Kevin Reeves.
In November 1984 Wrexham paid £3,000 for him and he spent three years there before making the move to Turf Moor alongside the Wrexham goalkeeper Chris Pearce. Both were out of contract at Wrexham and both were subject to tribunal fees. Burnley had to pay £8,000 for his services.
He soon settled into a midfield role at Burnley, alongside another new signing in Andy Farrell. Burnley had a much better season, holding the top position for a period, and although league wise it ended in disappointment there was the Sherpa Van Trophy Final to look forward to at Wembley.
Comstive had proved to be a big success. Offering height, and no little skill, in the midfield his style was likened to that of Glenn Hoddle by some and he certainly offered goals from that position. He scored eight times in the league and added four more in cup competitions including the clincher against Preston at Deepdale as we reached Wembley.
No one came closer than Comstive to scoring in that Wembley final either; he twice hit the woodwork as we lost 2-0 to a Wolves side who had won the Fourth Division.
The next season was one of change at Turf Moor with Frank Casper replacing Brian Miller as manager and that was thought to be a factor in it being Comstive’s last season as a Burnley player.
Again he reached double figures in goals, beating his previous season total by one, and for much of the season was a regular. He didn’t miss a single game in the first half of the season with Miller in charge but under Casper his position wasn’t quite so secure.
He was still at Burnley at the start of the following season but by now he was no longer involved with the first team and so in September 1989, after two years, he left to sign for Bolton Wanderers who were a division higher than us.
We’d certainly done more than alright from Comstive. We paid £8,000 for him, got two good years from him, and sold him to Bolton for £37,000. After just over two years at Burnden Park he signed for Chester City and spent a further two years there before ending his playing career in the league at the end of the 1992/93 season.
He was in the Chester side for both games against Burnley in that final season, scoring in their 3-0 win against us in what was the first ever league game played at the Deva Stadium.
Comstive played non-league football for a further four years for Southport, Morecambe and Chorley before hanging up his boots at the age of 35.
Away from the playing side he was reserve team coach at Burscough for a while and is now first team coach with Fleetwood Hesketh who are based in his home town of Southport. They play in the West Lancashire League.