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.