Result: Burnley 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion (SkyBet Championship)
Venue: Turf Moor (Sunday 22nd November 2015, 1.15pm)
After watching a game in the far lower reaches of English football the previous day, I was being propelled up into the second tier of the pyramid on this Sunday afternoon. The game in hand was to be played at Turf Moor and featured the sides of Burnley and Brighton & HA, with the Seagulls having a very fan-friendly journey up into Lancashire, thanks in large to Sky.
As for me, I set off into Manchester arriving at Deansgate at a little before a twenty-past nine. Whilst on the train, the conductor basically tried to leech some extra cash from me by saying my railcard wasn’t able to be used, despite the fact it has been fine for the past two years. After defending my right to obtain my rightful discount, the conductor relented and I had achieved VICTORY!! F*cking Northern Rail.
After a half-hour wait outside the Moon Under Water ‘Spoons in town (too early to pop in for me), I boarded the X43 bus service up to Burnley, as the trains were off, substituted for the rail replacement bus services. So for £9, I had purchased a return ticket and was heading off towards Burnley.
After passing through the hills of South Lancashire and up through the towns of Prestwich and Rawtenstall, we were rolling into Burnley Bus Station at a little after 11.15am. After disembarking, I was met with the jolly PA system advertising the service of the “Witch Way”, the service of which I’d just had the pleasure of using. For £9, it really is a decent offer, especially up against Northern!
Anyway, first port of call was the Burnley Ticket Office, situated at the rear of Turf Moor’s superb Bob Lord Stand, where I sat whilst watching Burnley’s u18’s take on Manchester United’s youngsters. After following a pair of lads through the subways (no, not like that), I duly arrived at the club shop/office and was soon in possession of a £24 ticket for the lower tier of the James Hargreaves Stand.
So, with ticket in hand…well, bag I headed over the road, purchased a match programme of the lad braving the cold for £3 and headed inside the bouncer-protected Park View pub, just as the B&HA fans rocked up on their coaches.
The Park View is a nice enough establishment, nothing to write home about, but certainly nothing to talk down about either. It’s a pub with a nice atmosphere to it and certainly seems the haunt of the home fans on a match day. As for myself, I ordered a Kopparberg for around £3.50 and wasted away around a half-hour where very little happened, before heading round towards the James Hargreaves Stand. But, of course, the Burnley Cricket Club had to be visited purely because of the fact it gave the world Jimmy Anderson!
So, I walked up the dirt track road leading around the club’s outfield and headed up the steps past a few Brighton fans, before entering the bar area to be met by a great many Brighton fans! Clearly, due to its proximity to the away end, this is the place of choice for the visiting support. After arriving at the bar, I ordered a Sol beer. “Which one? We have Magners, er…” came the reply, leaving me stumped. “No, SOL!” said the lady accompanying the fella behind the bar, who then proceeded to inform me that “his hearing’s going”. I wasn’t going to say anything against the guy, as he had my beer and I informed them as much!
After watching a bit of Sporting Gijon vs Levante via the wonders of television, it was time to leave the nice surroundings of the BCC pavilion and head over to Turf Moor and the James Hargreaves Stand. Upon entering through the turnstiles, I spent a bit of time in the concourse area under the stand, until heading back out into the chilly Lancastrian air for the tie between 5th and 2nd respectively. Soon, the game was all set to go and the majority of supporters were in their seats. But first….
During 1882, Burnley Rovers RUFC switched to playing football and played their first game later that year. A year later, the club moved into Turf Moor, with only Preston North End having remained in a sole ground for longer (league only?). For 1888-’89, Burnley became one of the 12 founder clubs of the Football League, and the next season saw the club win their first silverware, the Lancashire Cup. Relegated to Division Two in 1897, the club immediately returned to Division 1 at the first attempt via a play-off series known as “Test Matches”. With the final game seeing Burnley need a draw to go up and Stoke one to stay up, a 0-0 draw was played out ‘without a shot’ and the league quickly withdrew “Test Matches”, never to be seen in football again. The league then decided to expand the league anyway, so the two other clubs involved ended up in the Division 1 rendering the series obsolete. After relegation in 1900, the club remained in Division 2 until 1913.
1913 saw the Clarets go into Division 1 again (after changing their kit to spur on the side to be like Aston Villa who, at the time, were all conquering), and won the 1914 FA Cup in the last final to be played at the Crystal Palace and was the first time the cup was presented by the reigning monarch. After WWI, Burnley won the League in 1921, a season in which they lost only three games, before embarking on a 30-game unbeaten run, which remained a record until Arsenal’s 2003-’04 “Invincibles” conquered all. This was a peak though, as a series of near relegations ended inn demotion in 1930.
Burnley did compete in varying leagues without WWII, but it was following the cessation of the conflict that they began to achieve again. They immediately returned to Division 1 as runners-up and an FA Cup Final appearance at Wembley (they later achieved the club’s record win in the same competition, a 9-0 win over New Brighton in 1957). Burnley went on to lift their second title in 1960 and played in Europe for the first time as a result the next season, their best European show came in 1967, when they reached the quarter-finals of the Fairs Cup, before bowing out to Eintracht Frankfurt.
1971 saw another relegation as fortunes subsided, but they soon returned with the Second Division title in 1973, before further relegation was suffered three years later and in 1980, the club was relegated to Division 3 for the first time. Just two seasons later, Burnley recovered to Division 2, but went back down the next year before going down to the Fourth Division in 1985 and a win in the final game of the ’86-’87 season was all that saved Burnley from non-league football. A defeat in the 1988 Football League Trophy Final was the last “highlight” of the decade.
The 90’s saw Burnley return to Divison 3 as the last ever champions of Division 4, before re-organization in 1992. Two years later, they were back in Division 1 via the new play-off system, but lasted just one season and only another final day win saw off a further drop back to Division 3. The millennium saw the Clarets return to Division 1 as runners-up and further to that, they maintained their place in the league as it changed identity to the Championship, before achieving promotion to the Premier League via a play-off final win over Sheffield United, thus making Burnley the smallest town to host Premier League football. Arguably, the highlight of the season was the early victory over champions Manchester United, but they were too inconsistent and after Owen Coyle’s acrimonious departure to Bolton Wanderers, they were relegated after that sole season.
The club returned to the Premier League once again in 2014, as they achieved automatic promotion under current manager Sean Dyche. However, as in their previous Premier League campaign, they weren’t consistent enough in their results and dropped back into the Championship for this, the 2015-’16 season.
So we were underway and before anyone had much time to settle, Brighton had the lead as Bobby Zamora bundled the ball in from close range to awaken the, probably drowsy, Seagulls fans, who began to break into song, only to see their side immediately concede a penalty directly in front of them, as Lewis Dunk was penalised for a shirt pull on Michael Keane. It looked a stone wall pen in the ground, however it appeared it may not have been as clear cut as it first seemed live. Despite this, Clarets’ top scorer Andre Gray stepped up and finished confidently. 1-1, four minutes in and I thought to myself; “Well, that’s that then!”.
Burnley had the better of the chances, non more so when Rouwen Hennings’ effort was brilliantly pushed away by the visiting custodian David Stockdale at point-blank range. Both sides became cagey after this, with both clearly respecting the other’s class and unwilling to give even an inch to their opposite number. As such, despite some good play, chances were at a premium and the tie headed into half-time with the sides all-square.
As is customary at half-time now, I headed down into the concourse once again and purchased a Holland’s Peppered Steak pie for a further £3, as standard it seems in the league grounds. I made it back into my seat easily in time for the second half, but dropped my plastic piece of cutlery on the floor, which upset me, so I launched it under the seats of a few rows in front of me. Petty, but sometimes it just has to happen! I’m sure you understand….
Second half underway, and the early stages saw little given once again, but the game began to open up again as Burnley began to push forwards a little more. Joey Barton was instrumental for the Clarets in the middle of the park, spreading the play and breaking it up in equal measure as and when required and showed what he’s capable of and also, rightly in my eyes, picked up the sponsor’s man-of-the-match. Brighton began to sit back on their point in the latter stages and almost paid for it as, first, Scott Arfield curled narrowly wide before Chris Long spurned a late, late golden chance, as he fired wide with only the ‘keeper to beat. 1-1, full-time.
So, upon the final whistle, I headed out of Turf Moor and back round the cricket ground, towards the road leading towards the town’s bus station. I was in a rush, having it in my head that my return journey was at 3.30pm, but upon arrival, I was a bit put out that in was in fact 10 minutes later than that, so I had a good 25 minutes to wait for the return carriage.
Eventually, the time passed and I boarded the bus which proceeded to become obscenely full for the return journey, though it appeared that half the population of Rawtenstall must have gone to the game as the bus emptied upon our arrival in the town, which was formerly home to the now defunct Rossendale United, whose ground still sits derelict and overgrown, sadly.
Back into Manchester I went and, after disembarking at the Christmas Markets in St. Peter’s Square, I had a quick jog down Deansgate to undertake, in order to catch my connecting bus home (from no buses to loads in two days! Wow, such excitement). As usual with Manchester’s public transport system, no rush was required in hindsight, as the bus arrived about seven minutes late, but I was on the way back, happy to have “officially” ticked off Burnley and Turf Moor. A good ground, a good town, a good Sunday. But it was soon Monday and that wasn’t good…
Game: 6- Great start, bit hit & miss thereafter.
Ground: 8- Really like Turf Moor, all stands a bit different.
Fans: 6- No, reason for the rating, just six.
Food: 7- Holland’s have always been a fave of mine, a nice change from Pukka.
Programme: 6- A fair effort.
Value For Money: 5- Decent enough overall, but game wasn’t a £24 one!