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Only one present counts

Posted on 25 May 2009 | 11:05am

Short and sweet today … to thank all those who, particularly via Facebook, have wished me a Happy Birthday and, more importantly, good luck to Burnley.

It is, quite simply, the biggest game since 1987 when we had to beat Orient to stay in the Football League. If we win, we will be the smallest town ever to get into the Premiership. That, added to the quality of the football we play, is why we seem to have neutrals backing us ahead of ‘big, strong, well-organised (yawn)’ Sheffield United.

Thank heavens it is not as hot as yesterday, when Millwall and Scunthorpe players were toiling in 100 degree pitchside heat.

All our players are fit which, given we have the smallest and most over-used squad in the Championship, is a minor miracle, and another omen suggesting things are heading our way.

I learned yesterday that there is a condition called ‘anticipatory anxiety,’ and I have definitely been suffering it. With Fiona on her way back from the Hay Festival (even she is coming today, though she will be evicted if she asks when the interval is) I went out with my Burnley-supporting son Calum last night. While we were waiting for our food to arrive, I texted all the football managers in my phone book – twelve of them – to ask not who they wanted to win, but who they thought would win.

Two said too close to call, one said Sheff U, nine said Burnley.

9-1. Perfect score. I predicted 16-0 for the second leg at Reading and we won 2-0. An eighth of 9-1 works out roughly at 1-0. That’ll do nicely, sir. Last minute scrambled goal in off Graham Alexander’s shin after Sheff U fail to clear from a corner. Best present of all time.

Oh ok, a bit of politics … good to see Labour ministers getting a bit more stuck into the bigger constitutional picture today, while Cameron diddles around with some idea that non-Tories should stand for the Tory Party. I really didn’t get that one at all. But both Alan Johnson and Ed Miliband, without any hint of disloyalty to GB, have some interesting things to say today on how the expenses fiasco must be used to push forward a bigger, broader reform agenda.

But enough of that. Only one thing counts. That the best team wins. And that is Burnley. Happy days.

  • Ian

    Most neutrals backing you? I’m a Blackburn fan … no way are we backing you. Ok, so I’m not neutral then.

  • Frank Weir

    It will be one of the sports stories of the year if you make it. Owen Coyle is a superb man and a terrific manager as I know from his time in Scotland. I just heard you on Five Live and I agree that sometimes it just feels right. Good luck. An Aberdonian Burnley backer

  • Harry Webb

    Please, please, please beat them … yours a Sheffield Wednesday fan

  • Macca

    You have better players and play better football. Not a bad starting point. Good luck

  • Ronnie

    As long as Fiona has the sense not to comment, “The other team has much nicer costumes so they should win.” I’m no longer with the young lady concerned; for other reasons.
    Enjoy the day.

  • TonyC

    Good luck today. As a neutral – I support the ‘mighty’ Brentford – I’m hoping Burnley go up, not Sheffield United.

    My friends and I have the reverse of Fiona’s ‘when’s the interval’ phrase. Whenever we go to the theatre we find ourselves checking to see when ‘half-time’ is. Too many Brentford games I’m afraid does that to a person.

  • Alina Palimaru

    Happy Birthday and Good luck!

  • gary Enefer

    Listening to AC’s Burnely whilst twittering away. My only concern for him is that they are so hotly tipped as favourites – no one has talked about the opposition at all.

  • gary Enefer

    Just watched Wade Eliiots goal – what do I know?!

  • Alex Hoy

    Cracking first goal from Burnley!

  • Marion

    Happy Birthday! As you didn’t engage with David Cameron’s diddling, do I take it you won’t be offering to stand as a Tory MP? Which, in turn, suggests you already either (1) have a moat and duck house or (2) have a proper job, or possibly option (3) a life. Oppps – forgot about you being a Burnley supporter…

  • Graham Last

    Well Alastair, I expect the result at Wembley means you are having a birthday to remember.
    Congratulations to Burnley on their fine achievement. I understand that it’s 33 years since the Clarets were last at the top table so it’s been a long wait.
    As a Norwich fan we are unfortunately about to view the murky depths of the third tier of English football for the first time in 49 years so an experience of a quite different kind awaits us I’m sorry to say.
    I’ve nothing particularly against Sheff Utd but I’m a little pleased they didn’t make it…they’ll be rich enough as it is from all the Tevez affair money they’re on the brink of trousering.
    It’s times like this that being on the wagon has it’s downside I would guess.
    Enjoy your day!

  • Matthew Patrick

    Congratulations to Burnley. Your team play excellent football but seem to be able to mix it with bigger teams (at least in the cups) better than my beloved West Bromwich Albion. Enjoy it and good luck next season. Happy Birthday, too. Finally, as this is my first ‘comment’, I want to say I am so very grateful that there is an informed, intelligent and eloquent accessible view of politics on the internet. Thank you.

  • gary Enefer

    Very pleased for Alastair.

  • John L

    Well done Burnley!

    Now that’s out of the way go and get the Labour party sorted out!!! Start with telling GB to stop bleating on about a fair society, because that came about a long time ago and start talking prosperous society. We need more ambition (and less Harman/Dromey)from this government.

    Plenty of time to get it sorted before the season starts – and perhaps a few MPs with a couple of quid to spare for the transfer pot?

  • Mike Barlow

    I’m pleased your birthday had a happy occasion in terms of Bunly ascending to the Premiership, well done for the little team done good. I like that kind of story.

    But Alastair, come on, “good to see Labour ministers getting a bit more stuck into the bigger constitutional picture today”…you mean, perhaps “nine cabinet members used £11,000 [each] of taxpayers’ money to pay for personal accountancy advice”?

    I know this is within “the rules” …but who set the rules, eh ;oP Surely….not….MP’s….no way, gasp, no?

    But good luck to Burnley, they are assured winners and they deserved it, through sheer guts and hard work.

    Unlike a lot of MP’s, currently.


  • Heather P

    Alastair, I have just read your book ‘All in the Mind’ what a fantastic book, i suffered a breakdown in summer 06 and since then suffered clinical depression, and still trying to control or stabalise it, or whatever you do. I just want to thank you for writing it, and being so open about your depression, i find it comforting and helpful to hear real life stories.
    I am really interested to know how much of your book is true, Are they based on real accounts.
    I have handed it to my parents to read in hope they may learn something, they have struggled to come to terms with my illness.
    Thanks for a great read .
    All the Best

  • Trevor Malcolm, Portsmouth Hampshire


    Monday 20 May 2009, a date the Bank Holiday “Birthday Boy” is never likely to forget, considering this afternoon’s result, congratulations

    Blessed be, AC: The Good Lord is granting you everything you ever wanted, see?

    Already, respected first-novelist, then unanimously voted Mind Champion of 2009, and the causes for celebration continue, getting better

    Still sticking with the “family values” but shared jointly with your “health and happiness” – a tie for first place, I reckon’s best way ahead

    BBCtv’s “Cracking Up” (broadcast October, last year) got it spot on. Life’s best played at a steady pace, like Geoffrey Boycott, opening the innings for England. A crease-occupation campaign, foremost. Nudging quick singles, despatching the odd loose ‘un to the boundary, keeping the scoreboard steadily ticking over. A graphic image for depressives to cling onto, during our rougher patches

    And, from today, you’re a couple of runs safely past your first half-century. A solid, exemplary performance

    Thirty years from now, you’ll still have just as much to celebrate. You could well outlive us all, Grandpa

    (Naturally, by then, your children will have their own children for you to love, hence you’ll be Grandpa, yeah? – quaint touch of NLP Future-Pacing, there)

    After that, dotage awaits you. But may the Good Lord ensure the final voice you hear be Britney Spears, singing “Hit Me Baby, One More Time”

    Just one odd PS: At 11.20am, you published a comment from a Sheffield Wednesday fan, named “Harry Webb”

    That’d be the lad, born in India, 1940, stage-named since the late 1950s, … Sir Cliff Richard of Queen Anne House, St Georges Hill, Weybridge in Surrey. Wow, hi Cliff, loved The Shadows, no idea people that popular blogged here on footie matches, incredible. Small world, eh?

    More so, now the electorate want tv actress, turned Gurkha activist, Joanna Lumley, as their next Prime Minister at Number 10. UK politics grows more showbiz, every tabloid day. So, might as well keep celebrating

    Trevor Malcolm