|Season 1, Leg 6 - Burnley|
|Written by Mark W|
|Wednesday, 27 August 2008 18:10|
Burnley V Oldham Athletic – League Cup 2nd Rd
Turf Moor, Burnley
Tuesday 26 August 2008, 19:45 K.O.
Following a fantastic four goal home victory over Cheltenham and with Latics sat proudly at the top of League one, expectations were high as we visited a Burnley side who, despite being a division above us, were yet to record a league victory. At the same time, I’d noted that the one win that they could lay claim to was over Bury in the last round and Bury, like ourselves had a 100% record in the league.
I’d managed to couple an early start at work with a slightly earlier finish than normal, and so was home for five. That gave me half an hour before I was expecting Mike and Rachel round. This provided me with the perfect opportunity to get the evening off to a great sporting start as I watched England knock off the remaining fifty runs they needed for an emphatic one-day international victory over South Africa.
Within five minutes of Matt Prior hitting the winning runs, they were here and we were ready to head over to Turf Moor. You always know that during a car journey you are going to come across the odd driver who doesn’t quite match up to the standards that you expect but it’s a bad state of affairs when it happens before you reach the end of Broadway. The vehicle in question managed to cut me up before gliding back over to the other lane. By the time it cut me up again, I’d decided that I wasn’t taking any risks and sat back leaving plenty of space. When the car turned into the filter lane to turn right I was grateful to see the back of it but did joke that based upon whet we’d seen so far, “anything could happen here”. Next thing we know, she (sorry, I’m not being sexist, but it was a she) has got the car in reverse and is reversing back up the filter lane so that she could try and rejoin the traffic.
What with the cricket and this budding Lewis Hamilton, the entertainment really had started early.
The rest of the journey was comparatively incident free and within half an hour we were entering Burnley. As I was away for last season’s cup game, this was the first time I’d been for a good few years but the wonders of SatNav saw to it that this wasn’t a problem and we found ourselves at the ground. As we were early and I’ve got some two generation old Yorkshire blood in me, I decided to try and find some street parking to save a bit of cash.
I’ve been to a fair few grounds over the years and have been known to have to pay a quid to local kids to ‘look after your car, mister’ but I’ve never seen anything like this. As we drove around the side streets surrounding the ground (not in colours and with the mini-kit removed) we were eye-balled by every kid we passed. I soon decided that I quite liked my car and it would be worth the four quid to park it in the car park of the cricket club as there was a chance that it might still be there after the game. The one thing we passed other than the kids was a stall selling Burnley souvenirs. One such memento was a scarf featuring Homer Simpson in a claret and blue shirt. At least, I think it was Homer Simpson because to be fair he looked very much like the majority of local men hanging around with the dodgy kids.
We parked up on the boundary ropes while the man taking the money off felt the need to tell us repeatedly that the club was open for “drink, food and toilet”. Written down, that loses a lot of the power that it contained when spoken in a very broad Burnley accent. Either way, food and drink sounded like a winner and so we headed in.
The cricket club is right next to the ground and despite only being small, seems to be the number one haunt for away fans. It was still quite quiet when we arrived but within ten minutes you couldn’t move in there. I’d say 90% were Latics fans with a few locals around the snooker table. Luckily we got the Warsteiners in… obviously not for Rachel as she is a lady… before the crush and I managed to get Holland’s pie, chips and gravy ordered (or a salad if my wife is reading this). I have, in previous reports, been highly critical of food quality before games but this was fantastic. I guess you have to go to the home of Holland’s pies (ahem, salad) to get one of this quality.
On the way to the ground we found that we were not the only ones keeping Ernie's memory alive today.
After polishing off the food and beer the queue was far too long to contemplate a second round so we decided to get the customary photo done and have a second in the ground. We found the main entrance which was handily placed just opposite a very rough looking pub. Just what you want when unveiling a flag with the visiting side’s club crest on it. We unfurled it and took the picture as quickly as possible, hence the slight blur, before heading for the away entrance.
Once we had each handed over our fifteen quid, we sent Mike to the bar while Rachel and I went to find somewhere to put the flag. Burnley had been the most proactive club in welcoming the flag of everywhere we have visited so far. Following the draw, Terry emailed them an article for inclusion in the programme and within fifteen minutes they had replied to confirm that they would be using it. The details were then passed on to the chief safety officer who emailed us to say that the flag would be welcome and he would ensure that there would be somewhere to put it. There was an area cordoned off where a huge Burnley flag was tied, along side the ‘Glossop Latics’ flag. Ben, who’d brought the other flag came down to explain that the stewards didn’t want him to put it up as only the Ernie flag would be allowed but after he explained that he had taken the flag to every game, and Ernie’s funeral, they soon agreed to its display.
After a bottle behind the stand we sent to find seats only to find that there weren’t that many left. The number of seats in the away end has been decimated by a strange decision to put up a big screen right in the middle of the stand. We managed to find some on the right hand side of the stand, though, and it was great to see such a good turnout. It was also nice to see that there are still some proper grounds left these days. Far two many grounds lack any kind of character but despite being almost empty, Turf Moor looks and feels like a football ground should.
The team news was that Shez was using the cup game to rest a few key players while giving an opportunity to some of the new signings. The players rested included Hughes, Alessandra, Liddell, Gregan and Crossley. Bar Chris Taylor, I’d say that these had probably been our star performers this season and so I feared the worst. If looking for omens, all four victories so far had been preceded by a minute’s applause but there was no such tribute for anyone today.
We didn’t start well but I wouldn’t have said we were atrocious. We traded blows in the early stages but it was clear that Burnley had more about them than we did and it came as no huge surprise when they broke the deadlock. I thought we were giving a reasonable account of ourselves but I was grateful that I had managed to find a seat with a decent view. Apparently, from just two rows back, the view was entirely different. It seemed that from there, we were playing some of the worst football ever witnessed. I’ll never understand why some people go to games with the sole intention of slating the players. From the second minute, Neal Eardley got the brunt of it. Each time he made a slack pass, which I confess was far too often, he was treated as though he had done it through choice. When he made a good challenge there was no response but they were just waiting for the next error.
At half time, we were still in the game but it was difficult to see how we would get back into the game with the current personnel on the pitch. The gaffer chose not to change it as he clearly wanted to give the new boys a decent run out. This gave the lads behind even more ammunition and when the Burnley doubled their lead, which was pretty much the end of any hope that we had.
Don’t get me wrong; although I am being critical of those who were fervently voicing their dissatisfaction, this was not a game with a poor atmosphere. The fact that we were behind from quite early didn’t help matters but with a good away following and a willingness to make some noise, the atmosphere was decent enough.
Following the second goal, Shez had clearly seen enough and made a double substitution. This included Hughes and Alessandra and suddenly we had something up front. Within a minute or two Hughes was foiled by the keeper and it looked as if we might make a game out of it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and Burnley managed to score a third to mirror the scoreline from the game exactly a year earlier. The third goal also lead to a mass exodus from the Latics fans, thus meaning a slightly easier get away at the end.
With a couple of minutes to go I went to retrieve the flag and watched the closing moments from where it had been positioned. This was nearest to the only Burnley fans that were making any noise and it was amazing to hear how loud they seemed despite not being able to really hear them from the other side of the stand.
It was a bit chaotic getting out of the car park but once we got away from the ground, it was an incident free journey home which gave chance for a post mortem of the game. If we were going to have a bit of a blip, there’s no doubt that this was the game we’d have all chosen to have it in. We will need to improve before Saturday’s trip to Colchester but with a full strength team out there is no reason why we shouldn’t still go there with a real belief that we can get a win to brighten up the long journey home. After all, we are still top of the shop and we can now start to concentrate on the league.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 11 June 2011 20:50|