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Joy and beauty and a night of magic

Posted on 20 August 2009 | 10:08am

Many thanks for all the tweets and Facebook messages during and after
Burnley’s fabulous win over Manchester United. 

I know the non sports fans
among regulars here prefer me to go on about politics not football and that
whilst on holiday I have done neither very much. But if you love football, and you love a
particular small town club, it does not get much better than fighting your way
back to the Premier League after a 33 year absence, and beating Man U in your
first home game.

It was an early start. Leaving the house in France with the boys before 5 to
get to Avignon for the 6.11 train to Lille. London by lunchtime to meet up with
friends and head north. Taking in en route Evening Standard billboards telling
us of ‘swine flu mass graves plan’. Why do I so not miss the British papers on

Yet this morning, I cannot walk by a paper without picking it up, turning to the
back page and smiling. And good to see almost as much focus on how well we
played, and how passionate our fans were, not just that United failed to spark.

For so many years, Burnley only ever hit the national spotlight for the wrong
reasons. Now the whole world of football is talking about us, learning more
about the club, the town, the great people who live there.

In how many countries, I found myself thinking as finally I got to sleep
around 3am, will Robbie Blake’s goal be seen on TV in the next few days?

These things matter. Ask the council chief executive Steve Rumbelow who
has a whole strategy geared up to exploit the global exposure of the Premier
League. Beating Man U was not in the original plan. It’s an early season bonus.

One thing for Burnley fans to ponder though. We don’t have enough songs.
Man United fans had a whole repertoire going while we just bang out the tiny
number of old favourites. There has to be a sustained operation on this.

Also there is a problem in that one of our old favourites – ‘no-one likes us,
we don’t care’ – just isn’t true.

Even before last night, we were a lot of people’s favourite second club. Play
nice football. Rich history. Promotion against the odds. Tiny squad, tiny

But just go on Twitter and see the outpouring about Burnley last
night, still going strong this morning, or see how many people chipped in when
I announced our goal on Facebook, and you see that the Burnley story has really
caught people’s imagination. We’re popular.

Some of you were asking if I texted Alex Ferguson after
the match to gloat. I didn’t. I have too much respect for him as a manager.
Both managers spoke well afterwards though, Alex refusing to take anything away
from a great night for Burnley, whilst acknowleding they missed chances, Owen
Coyle saying he still expected United to be champions at the end of the season.

The only dark spot on an otherwise wonderful evening was getting happy text
messages from Chelsea and Arsenal supporters, including Piers Morgan. Oh well,
there always has to be a blot on the landscape. But the scene in Burnley today
is one of beauty and joy. Unbound.

  • Michael Taylor

    You seem to have a few extra songs when you play Rovers, if I remember – like – “you’re just a town full of p****”

  • Ian Eastwood

    After last night no longer when my son and I wear our Burnley Shirts abroad will I here the words Burnley WHO??
    These are great times for the club and town again. I saw it all in the late 60s/70s but for my son of 18 these are
    unprecedented times and like me he’s loving it.

  • Wyrdtimes

    Great to see this fine old English football club doing well. Are there any English players in the squad?

  • Michael

    Wyrdtimes – we (as in Burnley) have a number of English players – unfortunately no-one at the moment actually in the England squad.

    We also have a large contingent of Scottish players. In fact, I would guess we are one of, if not the, squads with the greatest amount of UK-born players.

  • Michael

    As a lifelong Red I was disturbed that we couldn’t claw back an early goal. But then I watched Football First on Sky and saw Blake’s effort – what a strike! The old ground looked in good shape too on a late summer’s evening – redolent of the golden era of our father’s generations. (the last time I was at Turf Moor I saw them play Steve Bull’s Wolves in the old Fourth Division – it’s hardly changed since then either). ‘Football – bloody hell!’ as Fergie might put it.

  • Steve Rumbelow

    Hi Alastair

    Wednesday night was special, an unbelievable atmosphere, when Robbie Blake’s goal hit the back of the net, the Turf erupted. But what struck me as something of an outsider (first season ticket) was the celebrations – they were loud, passionate and pretty wild but there was more to it than just that, there was also a real sense of kinship, it was palpable. People hugging, my partner had tears in her eyes – not me though!

    Thanks for all the work you are doing to promote the place too – really appreciated. Burnley FC helped set up the football league, Burnley helped set up the industrial age. So we know we’ve got remarkable football and industrial heritage and a great here and now too, a modern town with some of the best countryside on our doorstep – trouble is many don’t know it.

    I was saying as much on the afternoon after the night before on a breakfast show being broadcast live…… Connecticut! The world is, quite literally waking up to Burnley


  • Wyrdtimes


    A number? Like how many? What proportion are English?

  • Katharine T.

    Pretty pleasing that Burnley won against Everton, and I think their selection of songs is quaint and entertaining, even if you think they are lacking in variety.

  • christine higginbottom

    Dear Alastair,

    The fight is still on here in Blackpool to save our mental health day centres.Blackpool Council are determined to fulfill their plans (though not to inform users of the service or their families/carers what will happen).

    Our MP is continuing to help, but contact with “the relevant Cabinet Minister” named on Blackpool Council’s proposed service model document, has been a COMPLETE waste of time.

    The Department of Health also show no interest.

    I am at a loss as to what to do anymore, and feel that as usual it’s the “little people” who suffer and the people in power (who should know better) just stamp all over us.

    Can you inform of any contacts to help?

    Thank you , Christine.