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We love you Burnley, we do … what a night

Posted on 13 May 2009 | 2:05am

Just got in. Not a hope in hell of getting to sleep. Too wired. Watching it all again on Sky. What a fantastic night. Better than beating Chelsea.

I feel so so sorry for people who do not get football, who will never know what it is like to feel as the Burnley fans felt after 50 and 58 minutes of tonight’s match at Reading when two of the best goals any of us will ever see went in, first from Martin Paterson, then Stevie Thompson.

It was bedlam, absolute wonderful bedlam in the away end. As it was a warm evening, I’d taken my coat off and put it on the floor. By the time the bedlam had calmed, my coat was ten seats away. Both my sons were with me and there are few greater father-son hugs than the ones which follow a goal scored right in front of you. By the time the second one went in, people were climbing over seats to hug total strangers.

So now, as if the season had not had enough to offer already, we are off to Wembley on May 25, my 52nd birthday. There is only one present I want when we meet Sheffield United – another win like tonight’s.

Sheff U’s manager Kevin Blackwell was in the Sky commentary box behind us and took some very loud abuse in good humour. But he goes into the play off final knowing we have beaten his team twice already this season, and our players will be full of confidence they can do it again. So much sport is about psychology. I have spent a lifetime following Burnley, and for many of those years I have gone to matches with a vague hunch we might lose. I was often right. It’s why we went from top to bottom of the Football League in 25 years. These days we turn up feeling a win is likelier than a defeat.

Just one more win, and we are in the Premiership, the greatest football league in the world. It would be a fantastic achievement for a small town club.  

Most of the Burnley fans stayed in the ground singing and dancing and generally having a good time for ages  after the final whistle in the hope the players would come back out. Once it was clear they weren’t, I went round to the main stand to  take up Reading chairman Sir John Madejski’s pre-match offer of a post-match drink. He was very generous in defeat, as was manager Steve Coppell when he came up later.

I also took the chance to  congratulate our chairman, Barry Kilby, and his directors. Chairmen and directors get a lot of grief from fans at most clubs, and are all expected to have the kind of money Russian oligarchs throw at their clubs. Barry is a real Burnley supporter but the success we are enjoying is his and the board’s as well as the manager’s and the players.

One thing I sense, from the Reading reaction to our win, and the sheer volume of text messages coming in from all over the place as the game ended, is that we will be the neutral’s favourite. Burnley have really caught the football world’s imagination this year.

We will also have massive support of our own. The whole town will get a gigantic lift out of tonight. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, than can quite match the power of football to deliver the joy it delivered tonight, the excitement of the next eleven days, and the expectation of May 25.

Just watched another brilliant post match interview by Owen Coyle. What a manager. Off to bed.

  • Frankie

    That was one hell of a night. Think the players should have come back out when the fans stayed, but I guess Owen didn;t want to break his routine or tire them out even more

  • Kevin Jones

    I totally agree nothing like football for arousing real passion. I am a Liverpool fan so we are used to some amazing nights but you lot looked like you were having the night of your lives. Hope you do it. I can remember when Burnley were up there before.

  • Wild Rover

    That’s Rover as in Blackburn Rovers and if you do get up, remember it is for one year only and with defeats home and away to your more illustrious neighbours.

  • Em

    I think many who don’t get football get other things which equally satisfies. It would be boring we all loved football as much as you do. I have been on cloud nine like this after sports or art events and I think I can relate.

    I get about five hundred TV channels (average here) and we do get a lot of football but no Burnley since I’ve been checking. I’ll have to live their successes vicariously through you.

    Again, a heartening piece of writing, and, again, thank you for sharing. I truly appreciate it, it actually puts a smile on my face.


    P.S.: Is the repeated mention of your birth date a hint? Should I be shopping around right now?

    Just teasing you, AC.

  • Jean Thornton

    I’m a Clarets fanatic living in Perth, Western Australia. The match was on live here at 2.45am so like you Alastair we didn’t get much sleep but who the hell cares!! What brilliant goals – I just want my favourite Robbie Blake to get a couple in the Final. It’s nights like these that makes all the years of heartache worthwhile. I’m at work now but will not be doing much today – going out for a celebratory curry and a few bottles of red tonight!! Up the Clarets!!!

  • David Fagan

    As an Airdrie fan, just have to concur with the poster on display last night……Coyle is God. Best player we ever had now turning out to be one of the best managers you have ever had. Congratulations.

    Now….just need Airdrie to deliver a similar result(s) in the play-offs.

  • olli issakainen

    Great goals from Pato and Thommo. I saw them on Sky News here in Finland.

  • Robert

    Well done to Burnley. As a Reading fan I am oviously disappointed but your team thoroughly deserved your win. I really hope you get into the Premiership – it is a lot of fun.

  • Michael

    ESPN have recently had a series on footballing duels – Celtic/Rangers, Barca/Real, Galatasary/Fenerbache, River Plate/Boca Juniors. Unfathomably they missed out Blackburn v Burnley.

    Congratulations – I really hope they can beat the Blades sow we can have lots of Lancashire derbies next year (Wigan, Bolton, Blackburn, not to mention the Manchester and Merseyside clubs – what a great sporting region we have in the North West).

  • Ian Eastwood

    Glad you made it after your bit of a panic on the French railway system.

    You’re absolutely right no other sport provokes the passion and shear hysteria that football supporters feel for there team, especially a team like our beloved Clarets.
    I grew up in and around Burnley and have followed the clarets as long as I can remember. As a child in the mid sixties and seventies, towards the end of there hay days. We could not afford to go to many games.
    I lived in a village 3 miles outside Burnley (Harle Syke) high above Burnley, and as a group of small boys on Night games we would sit on top of a Skip looking towards the town and see the hew of the flood lights around Turf Moor and follow the games by the roars or sighs of the crowds. Which then were regularly 30.000 plus.

    We moved away from Burnley down to south Cheshire 18 years ago where my son was born but I have continued to follow Burnley home and away and I have never forgotten my roots, my dad for one would never let me.
    Not too many years after Tom was born his options were soon very limited on match days, football with Dad or Shopping with mum. Consequently like one of your sons has grown up a passion Burnley Fan, and until this season has seen very limited success. Is that all about to change?

    As most people know Burnley is a old run down mill town with very little money and very few prospects for the people in it, and football has always been a conduit for there passion and frustrations much more than a hobby or a status symbol.
    Many fans having to work many hours to pay for there passion and the clubs offer of refunds to season ticket holder if we make it to the promise land go’s a long way in paying some of that loyalty back, so well done to BFC for that.

    It is said that Premiership football is worth £50 million to the football club which is good in it’s self but just as important. It is estimated to the town of Burnley it could be worth as much as £200 million in extra income generated through world wide exposure and investment. What could that do to a small town like Burnley?

    In work this morning people keep looking at me and asking why I look like I have swallowed a coat hanger the ones who follow football understand for the rest they never will. They just don’t get it. It’s sad they won’t get that rush, jumping up and down as MPs & STs goals hit the net first like you with my son and then strangers all around, people smiling and cheering as we wait to leave the car park and all the way home.

    Many times it’s been tough following Burnley but this year has been one to remember.

    Keep going Burnley Dare To Dream.

  • Rob

    Congrats to Burnley, I hope they get up to the EPL. It’s a real shame Steve Coppell felt he had to resign though. Reading have lost out on a great manager there.

  • Kenny Hemphill

    Great result and two fantastic goals worthy of winning any game. And great to see three Scots play such a prominent role on the field, along with, obviously, Coyle in the dugout. Here’s to another Scottish manager in the Premiership next season.

    Couldn’t help but feel sorry for Steve Coppell and the Reading fans though. They had enough possession to win comfortably, sadly someone forgot to tell them where the goal was.

  • Frank B

    Looking forward for a warm and unforgettable birthday very soon !
    Thanks to you I can now put Burnley on a map, at least a place of great emotions and dreams
    And I do confess you’re right about the greatest football league in the world
    A Frenchman who loves your football … and the train

  • gary Enefer

    Dear AC


    You and your bloggers may like to know that Stephenfry has twittered about ‘the stupid changes twitter has just made”.

    Em, I find your words interesting. can we follow each other on twitter? i am MYYOGA gary enefer -have three followers from this blog and these have lead to other interesting people -thank you Alastair

  • Viv

    Please, please, please, can you write something as passionate as this about the Labour Party soon Alastair? I am one of the poor souls who “do not get football” (because I just don’t think it matters THAT much). But I’m pleased that you had a good night and I do know how you’re feeling – I feel like that about quite a few things, not least every time Labour win an election. It’s a bit depressing leafleting for the party right now – please inspire us with your words.

  • wyrdtimes

    Oh those poor people that don’t get football.

    Mr Campbell – an Englishman born and brought up in England who wanted Germany to knock England out of the 1996 European football championship because an England win would have meant a smaller majority for Labour in the general election. What a lovely guy you are.

    I don’t understand how you can support an English team at all. Why don’t you find a Scottish club worthy of your dubious loyalties?

  • Des Currie

    “I feel so so sorry for people who do not get football”. Feel sorrier still for us who don’t get sport at all. And think should be done in privacy only between consenting oponents.
    Des Currie

  • Viv

    Is that true about the 1996 European football Championship and Alastair wanting Germany to win over England for the sake of the election?
    That’s the most rational and refreshing thing I’ve heard said about a football game in a long time. I am inspired – all is forgiven and my faith in AC’s priorities restored!

  • Viv

    Nice one Des! That’s making me smile.

  • AJR

    Good report!Now Burnley can be a name people know for something good, and when I say I support BFC, I shouldn’t get a quizzical look and “who?”…or “well, someone has to”.
    Proud to be a Claret for over 30 years.