Sunday after the Blackburn game was spent looking at the league table, not quite all day, but more than usual, then watching the game again, and then writing up the latest batch of Roy Oldfield stories. One of them was the day Fred Trueman took him to the boardroom after a game.

Cricketing legend Fred did football reporting after he had finished playing and after one game he was last to finish and Roy went up to ask him had he quite done, and to tidy up. Fred chatted for a few minutes and then insisted that Roy went over to the boardroom with him for a drink. Roy, aghast at the idea, spluttered his excuses for not going over, the primary one being that he couldn’t possibly go in there dressed in his wellies, jeans and donkey jacket, looking bit like Compo from Last of the Summer Wine. Despite Fred speaking in broad Yorkshire and Roy in broad Burnley they did manage to just about understand each other. Fred insisted on him going over, telling him not to worry, Bob Lord wouldn’t dare say anything if he was with Fred. Ay but he might on Monday, thought Roy.

Over they went with Roy in fear and trembling that Bob Lord would give him short shrift for daring to go in there. Fred and Roy had a brandy each with Roy trying to look as inconspicuous as possible in his wellies but he knew Bob Lord had seen him. He made to leave but by this time Lord was standing by the door and there was no way Roy could avoid him. Lord looked at him with a straight face. Oh hell, I’m going to get a bollocking, Roy thought.

‘Everything all right Roy?’ asked Lord with a slight grin. That was all that was ever said.

‘I think he was in total awe of Fiery Fred,’ says Roy years later. ‘I think he knew that if he’d said anything, Fred would have torn a strip off him there and then without batting an eyelid. Nobody mucked about with Fred Trueman.’

It was at our last get-together that Frank Casper came along; they’d worked together for years at the club; at this meet-up Roy discovered who had almost ruined his pitch. Roy had just had a few days off and when he returned he found the pitch so flat and level it looked like green cardboard. Not a blade of grass was upright. You could have played bowls on it. When Roy saw it he was horrified but nobody ever said how it had had got like this. Whatever had been done, had done the pitch no good at all because wonderful though it looked, the compacted, flattened surface now hindered drainage.

Somehow it cropped up in the conversation and all these years later Frank Casper owned up. He grinned.  ‘It was me Roy. You were away and I went next door to the cricket club and borrowed their sit-on heavy roller, drove it round here and rolled the pitch up and down for half a day and made it flat as a pancake. I kept quiet when you came back and saw it. It was me Roy.’

Roy’s mouth dropped wide open, ‘And I’ve wondered all these years how it got like that,’ he said. Roy too used to borrow the cricket club roller but the trick was just to roll the pitch once not ride up and down for hours several times.

Did manager Paul Lambert really say, ‘Burnley had a head start on us financially,’ after the defeat at Turf Moor? Does he really have any idea of the financial histories of the two clubs? Did he really say that ‘they have more money than us?’ What an utterly mind boggling thing to say. Does he not know that Blackburn once bought a title? Does he not know that the current owners are Indian millionaires? Does he really not cotton on to the sheer irony of all this? I just burst out laughing and nearly fell off the kitchen stool when I read that.

Sunday’s Football League Paper and Chris Dunlavy had a spot-on summary of the game: ‘That chin is still jutting. Just as at Bolton last week Burnley were pummelled and pressed, dragged to the limits of their endurance. Yet just as last week they walked away with the points. Blackburn dominated possession but couldn’t breach an impeccably drilled back four, just how do you beat this Burnley side? Since Hull’s 3-0 victory on Boxing Day, nobody has the answer.’

Sean Dyche praised Tom Heaton: ‘Big keepers make big saves. He’s had very quiet periods. We’ve had 15 clean sheets which suggest the team have protected him. But what good keepers do is respond when they’re needed. Sometimes that’s not a save, it’s clean hands, good distribution and all manner of things.’

He praised Joey Barton and said what most of us think, that he gets some rough treatment but just calmly walks away: ‘He’s been a credit to himself, first of all, and then to us. He gets questioned, some of it brought on by himself and some not and I’m amazed at how little he’s been protected this season. The number of harsh tackles he’s had on him and he hasn’t responded once is a credit to him. He absolutely loves the environment and the culture we set here and the group. So he’s enjoying his football and said to me probably as much as he’s ever enjoyed it.’

Just two wins from the last 19 visits to Fulham and over the previous 50 years, and this was a game with jinx written all over it. London based it may be but Fulham has always seemed to be one of those little, inoffensive, homely clubs that no-one dislikes, Craven Cottage is such a nice name that makes you think of little old ladies with secateurs tending their olde English garden. It’s a club that seems a million miles away from clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs. The only daft thing they’ve ever done down there is erect a statue of Michael Jackson. Like Burnley they were up with the top goal scorers in the Division and in McCormack had a player who has scored a bundle against the Clarets over the years. The last time Burnley won there was 1980. But on this night Burnley had a stunning win.

The football Gods are with us, wrote one person, what a staggering run we are on. It’s almost unbelievable the run we have gone on, wrote another. Not one of the top ten teams kept pace with us, was yet another comment. At the 25-game stage of the season Burnley were 10 points behind the top team, Middlesbrough and here they were after 36 games four points ahead with Boro still to come to Burnley.

You could sense people’s amazement at the night’s result, Fulham 2 Burnley 3 at a place that has been a graveyard for so long and where in this game they were under the cosh for long spells. It was the night that Burnley went four points clear of the top and six points clear of the third placed team and were made 5/4 favourites with William Hill for the title. And though we might have hoped for this, few people probably expected it or took it for granted. At 2-2 we probably might have settled for that but then up came another shade of Gray to settle the game. This was a brilliant night of Craven cottaging. It was Richard Osman who was pointless, not Burnley (a stolen joke I have to admit).

What a magnificent result too, for Rotherham beating Middlesbrough with a goal just two minutes from the end; Brighton could only draw, Hull of course were involved in an FA Cup replay. It was a night when everything went right, even coming back from a 2-1 deficit to go on and take the points. Vokes scored twice and Gray once; Gray’s goal another 20 yarder smashed home that followed turning his marker who looked like he was glued to him. Vokes’ first was a classic header powered in from a corner; his second from the penalty spot after Barton was clearly brought down. A trip on Boyd in the area went unpunished. It was a game of the good, the bad and the ugly, said Dyche with the fans seeing a bit of each.  The bad was in the first half but the back-of-stage gossip says the lads got a bit of a Dyche straightener at half-time to get them back on track.

The next-day papers were unanimous, this was a pulsating, end to end game of chances and attacking football in which Burnley refused to lie down, and Fulham belied their lowly position. It was another night when little Joe was sleeping over and at quarter to ten I had to tiptoe into his room and prop a card on the bedside desk that said won 3-2 for when he woke up.

Huddersfield next and it was his first away game, almost a rite of passage. I guess we all remember our very first away game, how old we were and who we went with. Mine was away to Leeds for the first game of the ‘59/60 season with a few pals on the train from Todmorden on a scorching hot day and we won 3-2. Not a bad season to travel for your first away game.

Huddersfield just down the road from us: spring in the air, sunshine over the Pennines. Yesterday was the first brown bin collection day of the year so it must be spring, winter must be over. The potatoes are chitting, the onions sit  ready for thumbing in, greenhouse ready for tomato growbags, Joe wrecking what bit of grass we have kicking a ball into the mini net in his new football boots, Daffodils and Snowdrops all o’er the place int garden. Goldfinches, bullfinches, chaffinches, tits of all shapes and sizes, robins, thrushes, blackbirds, devouring everything we put out for them; and their early morning, dawn-chorus, cacophonous songs and twitterings enough to give you a migraine by the time you get up. What’s a peaceful lie-in anymore?

Who will crack first:  In this staggering run that Burnley had been on since mid-season, they had gained 12 points on Middlesbrough and Brighton, 13 on Hull and TWENTY on a faltering Derby, the latter from being nine behind to 11 ahead. But Derby of course came out with some nonsense that promotion was never their target this season. Up at Middlesbrough there were strange stories emerging that manager Karanka had walked out telling the players he was fed up after the defeat at lowly Rotherham. Whilst Burnley were beating Huddersfield, Derby and Hull could only draw.

At Huddersfield, Joe learned a whole lot of new words and that at away games you need to be able to stand up for 90 minutes. It might only have been a 50 minute trip but his picnic box was obligatory to eat sausage rolls and chocolate buns on the way. Sometimes I wish I could be 9 again as well. We found what we call the secret car park very close to the ground well before 2 and happily paid up the car park fee. It isn’t a secret at all but for some reason we have never yet found it full and from there to the ground is not much more than a stroll of 100 yards with the river on the right pleasantly filled with old bikes, shopping trolleys and assorted tyres. Kingfishers in these parts need tin hats.

With The John Smith not the happiest of hunting grounds for Burnley there were no assumptions that this would be an easily winnable game. How wrong could you be? At halftime, club guest Steve Kindon doing the draw summed things up beautifully with the score already at 3-1 to Burnley.

“They’re clinical up front and defend well at the back.”

What more can you say. He can never resist a laugh though can he and told us that the little girl he had with him was the granddaughter of a friend and she had already been crying three times, each time after a Burnley goal.

3-1 at half-time, Burnley so comfortable, Huddersfield so poor, that the figure 6 did actually cross our minds.  All we did though in the second half was comfortably see out the game, with Heaton barely having a shot to save despite a fair bit of Huddersfield possession and several neat moves.

Ward, Vokes and Mee scored the goals and the Mee goal, headed in from a corner, must have felt like a kick in the stomach to the Huddersfield players who had just a minute or two earlier pulled a goal back to make the score 2-1 when Lolley popped one in after a brilliant solo run.

Their goal, however, was a mere hiccup in a thoroughly efficient performance in which Vokes, Mee, Keane, Ward and Boyd were outstanding, Barton showed again he is the best scrapper in the Championship, and Gray ran himself into the ground.

“Hope you go up,” a Huddersfield fan said to us on the way to the car.  Another couple walked in front of and we could hear them talking. “They score plenty at one end and barely give you a chance at the other. No wonder they’re top.” “Focused, concentrated and aggressive,” said the Huddersfield manager.

After finishing off the Hula Hoops, Joe fell asleep in the car on the way home. Surrounded by 3,000 supporters filling the away end and producing a non-stop volume of noise and songs that was deafening at times, close up to his favourite players and all three goals; first away games can be such a draining experience. Back at home he was asleep the minute his head hit the pillow, one hand clutching the programme.



A Leap Year and an extra day at the end of the month of February; an extra day to look at the league table and think hey that looks OK, an extra day to think about how far this club has come along.

I was rooting through old scrapbooks and found something from a book that covered the promotion season of 1981/82. It was a joyful season filled with hope. Bob Lord had just died, John Jackson was the new chairman, and Derek Gill was sorting out finances and clearing up debts with new sponsorship deals. He had summed up the situation the club was in, in a few words:

     The club was in an administrative shambles; in fact it was verging on insolvency as Bob Lord was reaching his final months. Suppliers were not being paid, the position with the Inland Revenue on PAYE and National Insurance was chaotic, and the VAT commitment was something to ignore and hope it would go away.

The new board had huge decisions to make and although within two or three years it had all turned toxic in the boardroom, for their first 18 months it seemed they could do nothing wrong.

But one early subject was what to do with Gawthorpe? It was at an AGM that Chairman John Jackson dropped a bombshell when he said that there was a chance they would have to look at Gawthorpe with a view to selling parts of it such was the need to raise income levels.

‘We may come to the conclusion,’ he said, ‘that Gawthorpe is too big for our needs. Possibly some of the acres could be sold at the right time.’

Then he went on to have a dig at Old Bob: ‘The club would not sell players in order to ‘live well’ and Burnley would not become the first club with a three-tier stand called ‘The Trevor Steven Stand.’

But he did go on to pay tribute to Lord: the most knowledgeable man I met in football, he said. But, if he had appointed a public relations man to work alongside him he might have gone even further, added Jackson.  On the one and only occasion I met Ken Bates, he said exactly the same.

We can look now at the aerial shots of the building programme at Gawthorpe and take pride in all that is going on. But did the club come close to selling chunks of it in 1981/82; I don’t suppose we shall ever really know.

With Brighton winning early in the week on Monday against a decidedly puny Leeds United; they were 4-0 up by half-time, it meant that just two points covered the top four as they began to pull away from teams below. Leeds were a disgrace in that first half and you wondered if Evans would get the sack at half-time. But no, at the end of the evening he still had his job. Cellino was there but left at half-time ordering Evans not to speak to the media.

Next up was Blackburn versus Middlesbrough on the Tuesday. For once we really wanted a Blackburn win; if Middlesbrough won they would go top again. How often do we want Blackburn to win, very rarely if ever, but this was an occasion to put old grudges aside and wish them well. Blackburn did indeed win to our amazement; we rejoiced and then asked the Lord would he wash our mouths out with soap and water. By coincidence a website topic had been the riots of ’83 at Ewood Park when there were appalling scenes and a roof was wrecked. Despite amazing cup-runs, 1982/83 was not the best of seasons with relegation at the end of it, and the Rovers game was when frustrations were let loose and exploded on Easter Sunday, April 2 and the declining Clarets lost 2-1.

They’d been promoted to the Second Division debt free, with a new chairman, fresh board and a team of promising youngsters including the mercurial Trevor Steven but alas it all went pear-shaped by the end. It was the season when Miller was replaced by Casper and they promptly went to London and beat Spurs 4-1 in the Milk Cup. It was the occasion when a snooty Spurs director after the game was saying he couldn’t believe the score, but Burnley man Derek Gill, taking great pleasure, replied that all he had to do was look in the newspapers the next day for confirmation. It was the season when Burnley beat the all-conquering Liverpool 1-0 at Turf Moor.

1983: and the occasion of the ‘riots’ at Ewood Park was prompted by a bit of fun with a wellington boot being tossed around in a small corner of the away end. The police decided that this had to be stopped and the bit of fun escalated dramatically to the point of thudding truncheons and heavy boots. The tough, hard lads that stood up in defiance were caught up with all the innocent bystanders. Then, faced with an uncompromising plod back in an era when the idea of police restraint was quite alien, the hundreds of fans cornered in the Darwen End utilised the plastic, rotten timbers and asbestos that was so easy to find to hurl at the police. Frank Casper spoke to calm things down and was ignored.

When the game resumed for the second half the disturbances started again and the players were taken off. This would be the third of five consecutive defeats and the elation of the previous season had been replaced by resignation and anger at the plight of the now sinking club. ‘The Match That Died of Shame,’ headlined the papers the next day. This game was a huge stain on the club and its fans, and if fans wondered if things could get any worse, the club still faced the John Bond season, boardroom tensions, relegation under John Benson, and then the ensuing wilderness years that would last what seemed an eternity.

Reading up on all of this only serves to underline the stable, respected and hugely optimistic state of the club at the moment. The Burnley of the 80’s and the Burnley of today are two entirely different worlds.

Wednesday and there was an article in an online magazine that suggested that the coming game against Blackburn would be Burnley’s best ever chance to batter them.  It described Sean Dyche as like a trained killer moving on from one target to the next. It lauded Burnley and belittled Blackburn. It was the time to stick a few past them and we were fed up of odd-goal wins. Then it reminded us there hasn’t been a home win against Blackburn since Boxing Day 1978. Saturday is the time to put Blackburn to bed it ended.  I cringed reading it, not because I didn’t share the sentiments but because putting it all down on paper seemed to be inviting an upset. Blackburn were on a roll, confidence would be high. This was no game to take for granted and crow about battering them.

Thursday and we sat glued to Birmingham v Hull on TV. Now then, if at the beginning of the season you’d said to me and Mrs T that on March 3, we’d be engrossed in a game like Brum v Hull we’d have said yes and the moon is made of cheese. But we did. Top spot in the division was at stake, and on an awful night of rain and sleet and in front of a miserable, sparse looking crowd, Birmingham did the job we hoped for and won by the one solitary goal. And what a corker it was too. It’s reasonable to think that few if any Burnley fans at the beginning of the week would have put money on Burnley still being top on Thursday might. But there we were and whereas Dyche never entertained the idea of automatic promotion in 2014 until late on, ‘I’m a different animal now,’ he was saying, meaning that he was accepting the notion that Burnley were promotion candidates.

The X Files were back on TV, North Korean President Kim Jong Wrong Un had ordered his military chiefs to get his nuclear missiles ready for use, and deep in space, mystery, fast, alien radio signals were being picked up from a faraway distant Galaxy. The European IN campaign was suggesting if we leave the EU we might even be invaded by giant rats.

An Atlantic front had brought ice and snow a couple of days earlier. But who cared about all that, this was Burnley versus Blackburn. Middlesbrough had gone back to the top of the table with a win 2-1 over an abysmal Wolves side that somehow did manage a goal towards the end of the game. It was just too much to expect another result in Burnley’s favour. What struck you again though were the rows and rows of empty seats, hundreds of them. No so at Turf Moor where the ground was packed with just a few empty seats and those probably belonging to Season Ticket holders, ill maybe, or sunning themselves in Tenerife. The snow had gone but the route was again littered with red lights and roadworks. On one of the messageboards someone had posted that it felt like a Christmas morning, a morning when you can’t wait to get up and enjoy the day, but you don’t really know what to expect, you don’t quite know what’s under the Christmas tree.

My God, what a game, what an afternoon; what a nerve shredding experience that was. It was up and under, it was up and at ‘em, it was trench warfare; it was no holds barred, in yer face, get stuck in and just good old fashioned last-man-standing no nonsense. And in between all that there were moments of dullness and tedium.

‘Blood and thunder and muck and nettles,’ said Dyche adding that it was not the best they’d ever played but he’d not lost to Rovers yet since he had arrived and dedicated the ‘double’ to the fans.

Pretty it was not, silky smooth it was not, Burnley football at its finest it was not. This was not the beautiful game; this was Burnley versus Blackburn on a raw afternoon and all of this sucked out your emotions and drained us of anything resembling calmness and cool heads as we willed that final whistle to blow.

It had everything ranging from moments of decent football, to passages of Hoofball, to head tennis to downright sloppiness. It had thundering challenges, sliding tackles and last ditch clearances. It had a referee, Mike Jones from the Prem, that drove us nuts with some of his decisions but he gave the one decision that we applauded him for. The foul on Boyd was clear cut, his feet were taken away, the ref pointed to the spot and Gray did the rest.

For some of the rest of the first half Burnley played some decent stuff, Blackburn forced two top class saves from Heaton whilst at the other end there was one particular passing move of such blistering pace and geometrical precision that had the move been converted into a goal it would have been the goal of the season. Only a last ditch interception saved Blackburn as the ball flashed past the post by a whisker for a corner.

And then the second half and Blackburn came out fighting and moving and passing. It was Blackburn versus the Burnley defence as they dominated the game, found space, got crosses in, filled and crowded the box, had corner after corner; but Burnley stood firm and there was just no way past. For all their possession and moves the ball rarely got as far as Heaton, but when it did, there he was in total control. Blackburn may well feel aggrieved and that they deserved something from the game but they got nowt. It was payback time for past games they won undeservedly, in the Prem under Coyle when they won 1-0 having been awarded a penalty for as blatant a dive as you will see;  then at Ewood when a goal was scored with Blackburn players a yard offside.

Pinned back for long spells in that second half, blood pressure rising, you couldn’t question any Burnley player for commitment, grit, guts, blood, sweat and passion. Barton was crowned MOTM but a word for Boyd. Today he was Boyd the Destroyer, chasing, tackling, harrying, harassing, blocking and covering all parts of the pitch. And, it was Boyd that won the penalty.

Who cares if Blackburn fans were arguing they were the better side. It matters not one jot if you don’t score. Burnley scored and Blackburn didn’t so there’s the end of it, giving Burnley the double this season and the first win at Turf Moor since 1978. And to top all that, Burnley went back to the top of the division. Of the top four, which two will crack first; so far, not Burnley.

After this game there should be a Government health warning on Turf tickets:  Watching Burnley FC can be harmful to your health. But wadda week, Sean got us all a double: and as David Frost used to say and Millicent Martin used to sing: “That was the week that was.”

Roy gets a new wheelbarrow.


Must admit I was wondering if and when Joey B would get a book into print. So now we know, No Nonsense is coming later this year.

Simon and Schuster have promised that this will be a game-changing autobiography, peppered with controversies for various on-field and off-field incidents, reaching a low-point when in 2008 he was sent to prison for assault. Since then he has found a new path, following the birth of his children, and established a reputation for candid, insightful analysis, even appearing on BBC Question Time. In between playing footie and appearing as a pundit all he seems to do now according to his Twitter account is lead a quiet life and watch sport on telly.

An editor added: Joe Barton is quite simply the most fascinating figure in British football, the first player to harness the power of social media to tell it as it really is, no filters, no media handlers. In an era of often bland celebrity memoirs, Joey’s book will be raw, honest, entertaining and outspoken. Love him or loathe him, it will be the must-read autobiography of the year.

Joey B said: You may think you know me, but prepare to be surprised. No Nonsense looks beyond Joey Barton the caricature. I’ve not spared myself because I know only unflinching honesty will put the controversies into context. I acknowledge my mistakes without indulging in superficial contrition. I reveal what it takes to survive in modern football, a sport that eats people alive. I take you inside the dressing room and the prison cell. I give you a firm promise: this is not the usual vanilla-flavoured memoir.

The blurb says it will be written with author and journalist Michael Calvin. Calvin is good; I have one of his books. But Joey, I’d have done it for half the price.

Talking of vanilla-flavoured memoirs neither is the Roger Eli book Thanks for the Memories sickly sweet and shallow. It is a proper warts and all book. He wanted to produce a book that shows the heartaches of being a pro footballer and he had plenty. He had injuries galore and more hard knocks than a builder’s thumb; he endured more angst than anyone deserves and they’re all there in his book. Tim Quelch who knows good writing when he sees it commented that it is almost a text book of what any aspiring young apprentice can expect and should be required reading for young footballers. Roger had just the one glorious season and even that was cut short at the end.

This season, there’s no question that Barton has been an inspiration and he remarked on the Burnley club web that he was here to win the league, rather than be content with second place. There hasn’t been a game when he has given less than 100%; the way he has bounced back up when he has had a whack has been sensational with never a moment of retaliation. Any bookings have been the result of desperation to win rather than calculated malice. His involvement for the full 90 minutes, his box to box running, his energy and sharpness, have been astonishing for a 33-year old. Signing him was a masterstroke and the fact that it seemed that no-one else was prepared to take the chance on him, was pure gold for Burnley.

Bolton v Burnley and much as we may try, it is difficult if not impossible to avoid making comparisons between the two clubs regarding their current positions and their financial situations. Since Christmas 2010 and all the shenanigans, oh how much has changed.

This time it was a Bolton fan writing to his local paper criticising his own club, but lauding our own, whilst nicely managing to refer to Coyle’s disastrous tenure there.  He noted that his own club was £180million in debt; was badly managed, just missed extinction by 30 minutes and had been in a relegation position all season. Burnley meanwhile debt-free, in an automatic promotion place and were astutely managed. It made good reading. Much as we may try to expunge the Coyle memory and the Gartside poaching, the history books will not. It is even possible that Bolton fans dislike Coyle more than Burnley fans do, many of them laying their current demise at his door. But what is equally true is that their growing problems pre-dated him by quite a few years. They are what they are; a small Lancashire club that built a swanky modern stadium, which lived above its means for a decade, whilst everyone with a brain knew that the Eddie Davies largesse would one day end.  What no-one there ever did was figure out a plan to cope with that.

I remember going there several years ago to talk to one of their directors about Harry Potts. He had been secretary at Blackpool when Harry Potts was manager there. Even back then the size of their debt was considerable but he talked of it being no problem, that they were well able to ‘service the debt.’ All that bit of jargon meant was being able to pay the interest on all their loans, not all of which were from Eddie Davies. Accountancy has never been my strong point but even to me back then, they seemed to be living in cloud-cuckoo land as if they could carry on like this for ever.

My neighbour came out one morning as I was getting the milk in. He is envious. Sadly he is a Leeds United supporter and had been to Elland Road and seen the draw with Fulham and was thankful they hadn’t lost heavily with the number of chances Fulham made.  We could do with your manager, he said plaintively. Well it’s not just the manager is it, it’s the way the two clubs are run, I said to him. On the one hand you have Cellino and no money and we have sensible people running Burnley with money in the bank. We might occasionally grumble at this and that but I can’t really remember anything major other than the Lee Hoos season ticket mess-up, paying £100 in advance for the next year’s season ticket, and that was a couple of years ago. And they haven’t repeated it. Both the CEO and his deputy are two blokes with both feet planted well and truly in the real world. And one’s even a Yorkshireman and Yorkshire as we all know is the home of good old-fashioned ee by gum common sense.

There was an air of expectation before the Bolton game began. All away tickets had been sold. Everyone knew that a win would send Burnley top since Hull had only drawn the night before. Two teams at opposite ends of the table but look closely and Bolton’s home record was not too bad. Plus they had the boost of having been taken over (bar the rubber-stamping) by a consortium during the week. They had a future and their staff might even get paid on a regular basis.

But, the words banana skin popped up again. Nothing is ever certain in football and when Bolton took the lead in the second half, after a scrappy first, you could have been forgiven for thinking a big upset was on the cards. Derby had already lost and were well down in the chasing pack, but Middlesbrough were 2-0 up at Fulham. For a while Burnley were down to third. But then Stelling partly calmed our nerves here in Leeds when Gray equalised. He’d been due a goal; things had not been going well for him, but good strikers always come good eventually and so he did. Not only that, on he went to grab the winner when Ulvestad put him through and he scored with just a few minutes remaining. Just fewer than 4,000 Burnley fans went wild. They knew they had gone top of the league and out rang the cries:

    ‘We are top o’ the league, we are top o’ the league; we are top o’ the league, we are top o’ the league.’

    What a sight the league table looked on the TV screens and on FB and twitter. How good is that, we asked? Top of the pile, you can’t beat it. To Gray the plaudits, but Tom Heaton needed to make a stunning save in the dying moments to keep the points safe.

Gray’s first was a terrific volley from a Lowton cross, the keeper parried and Gray swept in to nip the ball home from a tight angle. The second was pure class, a classic Gray collection of the ball, dinked over the top by Ulvestad, touched on  in one movement whilst running at pace collecting the ball and moving it forward, beating the defender on his shoulder for speed, and then a superb and powerful left foot strike low on the ground from just outside the area. From collection of the ball to back of net could have been no more than 3 seconds, a perfect demonstration of the three P’s, power, pace and panache.

But opinion was pretty much united. Bolton might well have won this game with better finishing. Burnley were not at their best. In fact one Sunday paper said they had a battering. ‘How did we win that?’ more than a few fans asked on the websites. But teams that grind out results are the ones that end up at or near the top of the pile.

Another report said: ‘beaten senseless for 70 minutes and punch drunk… an outrageously deserved victory.’ But Dyche responded and quoted something Ian Holloway had said weeks earlier that Burnley have got an unbelievably tough chin.

‘You’re seeing that now,’ said Dyche, the mentality is so firm here, it gives you a hell of a chance. There is a chin of granite, this Burnley side has many qualities but none so impressive as its durability.’

Joey B may well achieve his target, promotion with Burnley and the top spot at the end of the season. Talks of a new contract were under way with Barton saying that Burnley were in a good spot, he wouldn’t trade places with any other team in the Championship, daily and training habits were exceptional.

‘We’ve got the top scorer in the Division, we’ve got competition in all key areas, we’ve got players coming back to fitness, and we’ve got a really strong bench; all that plus Dyer raring to go and Marney on the verge of coming back again, Ashley Barnes back on the grass, great times at the club. Since the defeat at Hull on Boxing Day we’ve been the best team in the league.’

We had chums over Saturday night for supper. He’s another Leeds United supporter with a season ticket. We met a few years back in Kalkan when he emerged to sit by the pool with legs so white I thought they’d been emulsioned. Anyway, on that occasion we sat and listened to Leeds 1 Burnley 2 in the season we went up. I’m not one to crow (much) about BFC with other supporters from clubs not doing too well and vowed that out of respect to friendship I would not mention Burnley first.

So: it was his fault that I burst out into a quick chant of we are top o’ the league, we are top o’ the league. He came in and the first thing he said was he’d told his wife that he didn’t want to come because he knew I’d be unbearable (eh moi?) That’s the first thing that was said. So I thought ‘right’ and out came the quick chorus – several times – and then again while we ‘ad us pudding. At the moment it’s good to be a Burnley supporter.

It wasn’t so good back in the late 70s and for much of the 80s and I only mention that because in the chats with ex-groundsman Roy Oldfield and in his diary, we’ve got to the bit where he gets a new wheelbarrow. Things were so tight back then that Lord Bob used to shout out ‘Albert tell them I’m not in’ when creditors used to knock at the door. Except for a very brief period when Derek Gill got the club solvent again and even in profit, Roy worked without a pay rise for something like four years, had to repair his ageing spades and forks as the club couldn’t afford new ones, bought the cheapest of everything so that the fertiliser was usually lumpy, worked with a mower that was forever breaking down, and worked alone for long spells because the secretary would rarely sanction a bit of extra casual labour from the Labour Exchange at times when the pitch was in a real mess or buried in snow. He once bought some second-hand stuff from Burnley Corporation out of his own mone,. These were the days when people like Manager Brian Miller, Assistant Frank Casper and Coach Ray Pointer could all be found forking and spiking and driving the tractor and generally getting their hands dirty and mucking in to get the pitch fit.

Poor as church mice they might have been but there was fun as well, especially when the farmer’s cattle used to break into and onto the training fields at Gawthorpe. Players and management (Roy on the tractor whooping and hollering like Rowdy Yates) would round them up and they were always under instructions not to shoo them back to their own fields but to bring them up to a pen near the Gawthorpe buildings and fasten them in. This was on Bob Lord’s instructions who insisted that the farmer had to ask permission to collect them. It must have been sorely tempting for the irascible chairman to hang on to them and make them into pies – although Lord once replied indignantly that he had never made a pie in his life, in a response he made to a letter from ex-director Derek Gill.

But, in that one season when there was a bit of joy and Burnley got back up to the Second Division in ’82, Roy actually had some good news. New chairman John Jackson encouraged the new Supporters Club that old Bob had always swatted away, and one of the first things they did was buy Roy a new wheelbarrow. He thought it was Christmas.

It’s far too soon to start thinking of the Prem millions but if Burnley are still top in May just think; they’ll need another new gold-plated wheelbarrow to put the money in the bank.