HULL CITY 3 BURNLEY 0
BURNLEY 4 BRISTOL CITY 0
It was an email from The Forest of Dean that set me thinking. Martin Green had just been reading about the times we threw away a 2-0 lead in the last Premiership season. For some reason his mind went back to January 1978 and a game at Chelsea. It was an FA Cup game and Burnley had lost 6-2. Brian Hall was also a player at Burnley then and had played 51 games for the club, although he didn’t feature in that particular game. He sadly passed away in December 2016.
The 1970s: Hot Pants and Top of the Pops, Maxi Skirts, The Osmonds, Bay City Rollers, tank tops, flares and kipper ties, The Sex Pistols, Space Hoppers, Chopper Bikes, decimalisation and Margaret Thatcher the first woman PM.
Bovver Boys, bovver boots and platform shoes, Pan’s People, The Bee Gees, Lulu and Maurice Gibb, skinheads, Triumph Stags and Concorde, Band on the Run and playboy Best. Adamson and the Team of the Seventies, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, miners’ strikes and Saltley Colliery, hippies and rock festivals, Ronnie Wood and the Rolling Stones.
Mastermind, Mick Jagger and Bianca, John Conteh and David Bedford, Simon Dee, Bob Stokoe dancing at Wembley, Revie and Leeds, Kevin Keegan and Alf Ramsey, Jackie Stewart and Donny Osmond, Princess Anne and Mark Philips, James Hunt and Elton John, David Cassidy, Ford Capris, Joe Bugner and Muhammad Ali, The FA Cup and Chelsea 6 Burnley 2.
The Goodies and Tiswas, Labour and Harold Wilson, Chris Evert, Nastase, Borg and Jimmy Connors, European Cup and Liverpool, European Cup and Nottingham Forest, Punk and rebellion, striking firemen, test tube babies, The Sweeney, Seve Ballesteros, Morecambe and Wise, Johnny Rotten, The Troubles and N Ireland, murder and Lord Mountbatten, Fawlty Towers, Coronation Street and Hilda Ogden.
And the email from Martin reminiscing about a 70s game:
In the 70s we had an FA Cup-tie at Stamford Bridge in January 1978. I was in London on a 2-day midweek trip to the Hotel Olympia Exhibition with my year group from Blackpool Catering College and just by chance the Saturday postponed cup-tie was hastily re-arranged for the Wednesday. Most of our well-heeled group ventured to the West End for some culture in Theatre land but a group of four ventured to Stamford Bridge for culture of a different kind. There was Jonny Johnstone from Hapton (Claret), Fletch from Rochdale (Evertonian), and Ian the Manc (red land). We duly paid on the gate to stand on what was no better than a building site in foul conditions with a bunch of very hardy souls from NE Lancs.
Cumbrian Herdwicks would have risked sheltering in The Shed but not us, students dressed in jeans, polo shirts and fashionable nylon jackets resembling bin liners. The club had used the programme from the Saturday but by kick-off it was so soggy that it was consigned to the bin.
We did stay to the final whistle in true die-hard style but I do remember it took us two days to dry and thaw out. The only other time I can remember being so cold, wet and miserable with only a smallish posse of Clarets in attendance was a Friday night at Southend in the Bond era, when another programme disintegrated after another thorough soaking.
From the 70s I remember a 1-1 draw versus Hull City at the old Boothferry Park in the promotion season of 72/73 when this was supposed to be the Team of the Seventies. Since then there have been other significant games against Hull; the last day of the old Longside was the day Hull City came along. A dire game against them saw the end for Steve Cotterill when it was clear he had got BFC as far as he could. And since then, Burnley have won nine out of the last ten games against them, a quite phenomenal record. Today the Burnley team has players with names like Dave, Tom, Matt, Sam and Ben; Hull have Akpoh, Diomande, Odubajo, Elmohamedy, Jahraldo and Hernandez.
What a good job we had a cracker of a Christmas Day. And in said crackers were gems such as… what do you call a multi- storey pig pen… a styscraper. Why did the man sleep under the car… so he could wake up oily in the morning? What is the fastest fish – a motor pike? Why did the tomato blush- because it saw the salad dressing? These were in an expensive box of crackers; I’d hate to buy a cheap one.
Over Christmas we watched the final Downton, the Downton Christmas Special now having taken over the old Morecambe and Wise slot that we all sat glued to in years gone by. It was a masterpiece of beautifully crafted glossy TV Soap. Everybody got a happy ending except the old Butler, Carson, who discovered he had a severe case of the shakes. Burnley fans over the years will know the feeling. Carson was unable to pour the wine or the brandy so severe was his condition and the old chap was led out to pasture on a pension in his estate cottage. Barrow, he who was once such an underhand sneak but was now reformed, was instantly appointed Butler in a sugary ending that was just pure schmaltz. The only bit I couldn’t get my head round was snooty Mary happily accepting that her ex-racing car driver and new husband was to be a second hand car dealer in the town.
Boxing Day was an absolute washout with horrendous rain and floods throughout the county, plus a defeat at Hull. 2,400 supporters braved the weather and rising waters to get to there. Their journeys home were marked by diversions and lengthy delays as the Calder Valley slowly disappeared under the rising river and places all around Burnley finished up feet under water.
Having got there, their loyalty was rewarded with a display from the Clarets allegedly as bad as anything seen for an age although at half time one commentator said that this was a game that could have gone either way. The only other praise came from another commentator who described them as nice going sideways and backwards. It was another game where there were just two shots on target. This was now three defeats in five games, seven points from eight games, and was a tough one to take, said Dyche.
Comments were generally blunt… that performance was as about as bad as it gets… quite embarrassing… a horror show… I think this was one of the poorest matches I have seen Burnley play. They could have lost by six… Where the heck is Ulvestad – the wide players are producing nothing… the day from hell, floods, sinkholes, long tailbacks and a fruitless day… predictable inept tactics… second half like watching the Benny Hill Show…changes need to happen or we are looking not at top six but top ten… shocking at the moment, inept and dull to watch… we could have Suarez up front and we’d still hoof the ball… where was the Burnley that took Charlton apart…
One-paced and one-dimensional, the Clarets got what they deserved for a game plan that basically involved sitting deep and smashing it long. There’s nothing wrong with banking up away from home but the fact that Burnley were forced to adopt such rudimentary tactics is a worrying symbol of decline. When the Clarets went up in 2013, the pace of Trippier and Ings allowed them to threaten any side in the division, home or away. These legs have not been adequately replaced and with Andre Gray looking jaded, the dynamism that was once their hallmark is badly lacking. The resulting caution – intentional or not – suggest January reinforcements are essential. The Football League Paper
Monday: Common sense said keep clear of Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, places that were waist high in water over the weekend but were being cleaned up on Sunday; so we came round the Keighley and Colne way from Leeds. We came back late in the evening via Tod and Hebden and Mytholmroyd. It was a salutary experience, particularly Hebden Bridge.
Monday: and Boxing Day football blues well and truly banished. This was a super display and well rewarded; from the ridiculous of the Hull game to the sublime of well and truly whupping Bristol City. Dyche made changes and boy did they work. Kightly in for Boyd was like a little wasp constantly annoying Bristol with his forward movements and direct style. At last a winger who can run at people. It may not come off every time but when it does he creates havoc. Vokes against a couple of towering defenders won more headers that in the last few games put together. His gently caressed ball over the defender’s head to the lurking Arfield was utterly accurate and textbook. Arfield didn’t let him down and strode on to score. Mee was what we knew he would be in the centre of defence, tough as old boots, fearless and determined, constantly winning headers against blokes so much taller than himself.
Both full backs Lowton and Ward solid and dependable, Keane an absolute giant the whole game, MOTM on any other day. He didn’t put a foot wrong. Barton and Jones patrolled and controlled the midfield, Barton the master of the instant visionary pass; his 30-yarder zinged against the crossbar and had it gone in would have brought the house down. Arfield was his usual industrious self with a goal to reward his performance. Heaton looked impassable even though a little bit of luck did help him along once or twice.
And Gray: the hat-trick man and a new name goes on the hat-trick honours board; a hat-trick that was so well executed from a player enjoying one of those games when all goes well, the chances go in, the ball sticks to his feet, the positioning is just right, the little tricks come off, the acceleration leaves opponents for dead and when such a player is taken off with a few minutes to go the standing applause rings round the ground enough to bring a lump to the throat. The roar that greeted his hat-trick was even better.
His first was all slick trickery just inside the half to leave the opponent floundering, the run was at pace; the cut inside left another defender bemused and the strike into the net from just inside the box was perfection into the corner. The second was a true poacher’s goal latching onto a loose ball when it came to him in the six-yard box. The third was instinctive as the low cross came to him and he knew exactly where to aim into the other corner.
Whether all these changes were enforced because of injury, or because Dyche chose to make them, didn’t really matter. They were what many of us wanted to see and they worked. There was more directness, more pace and more urgency. Sure, Bristol enjoyed spells of play and possession but rarely threatened any real danger. On a day when the rain stopped and Burnley had just lost 0-3, a splendid 17,234 turned out of whom few were from Bristol.
Dyche was understandably cock-a-hoop and purred with satisfaction and pleasure as well he might. We all did. It was a reminder of how powerful Burnley can be, of how well they can play, of what a helluva striker Gray is, of how Keane’s potential to be a top, top, classy centre-half is most definitely emerging, and that on the fringe players like Ulvestad and Hennings are ready to step in and make their mark.
We left the ground on a high and returned to Leeds later in the evening through Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd. All these three places during the rains have seen destruction and distress but it was in Hebden Bridge that the impact hit you most. We drove through a town centre that is usually vibrant and lively with restaurants and bars. This time it was in total darkness without power and lights. No street lamps, no Christmas lights and decorations, no shining café windows, few if any pedestrians, just heaps of sodden damaged possessions, shop fittings and stock, furniture and carpets and electrical goods all piled high on the silt and mud-covered pavements in the blackout. Looters had been arrested earlier in the day. As we drove by the Coop that 24 hours earlier had been inundated with water, we saw a group of people laden with bulging carrier bags, being faced by police officers. Another police car, lights flashing, was heading up towards them. The darkness was eerie; you couldn’t help thinking looters, what else?
Hebden is a place we know well and lived there for a few years in our early married life. We visit it often, drive through on every journey to Burnley and have a huge affection for the place. Todmorden is where I was born and grew up. Mytholmroyd too is a place where we have friends that we visit.
At one point, driving slowly, we passed a row of terraced houses, the pavements outside heaped high with furniture and peoples’ belongings, the houses clearly without electricity. Just a couple of candles lit one darkened room as someone inside just stood and surveyed their ruined home. Driving through these places on the way home was just utterly heart-breaking and at that moment football and the 4-0 win was the last thing we were thinking about.