The irony was clear to everyone. One club, Charlton, relegated, angry fans, badly run, foreign owners, had been on a downward trajectory since they had exited the Premier League.  The second club, Burnley, stable, well managed, local directors, passionate fans, no debts, realistic and had achieved promotion to the Premier League yet again.

You might have argued it was a metaphor for the state of the game. Chaos is the norm, debt is the norm, and failed ambition is the norm. But a club run like Burnley, a model club, a well-run club, ‘a proper football club,’ is the one-off and quite unique. The failed policies of Blackburn, Bolton and Blackpool are to the west, the remnants of Leeds United and Sheffield United to the east. Burnley is the shining light of football and the model that others declare they aspire to.

Leicester  City were the public darlings, everyone’s fairytale story but Burnley is the club that comes from a small town of just 80,000 people, that 30 years ago was knocking on the door of closure. Leicester got themselves a brand new sparkling stadium out of administration and now has millionaire owners that fly back and forth in helicopters. They scout Europe and the Far East for players but as Burnley Director Barry Kilby once said, “We look for people in Skipton.” I know which my fairytale story is.

And so to the final game of the season at Charlton, with the Football League having decided that the trophy would be parked in Middlesbrough in case they were the title winners. If not then either Burnley or Brighton would be presented with it at a later date. Although Burnley’s promotion was secure the situation was that any of the top three clubs could end up as champions.

Dyche said they were heading there with one purpose, to win the title. “Preston was the big result for us,” he said. They all had a warm inner glow, not the one that comes from a bowl of porridge, but the one that had come from doing the job they needed to do on Monday and beating QPR. Their only concern was what kind of disruption to the game might come from the disgruntled Charlton supporters. How must they have felt seeing that the visitors were the successful Burnley side heading to the Promised Land? Just how does this small unfashionable club in this small town do it, they must have wondered.

Who writes these scripts: one game being top against bottom and the top side still needing the win to be champions; and at the other end of the country a virtual play-off for the second automatic promotion place? These were no ordinary final end-of-season games with players thinking of beaches in the sun.

It was the hottest ticket of the season: the websites during the week before were swamped with requests, ‘anyone got a spare ticket?’ On the day before the game Facebook and twitter were filled with pictures and messages that people were already heading down to London for the weekend. On the morning of the game there were dozens more from people about to depart or on the motorways, or on trains. More than just a few tweets damned the vagaries of British rail. 3,000 tickets were available for the game but yet more messages revealed that by hook or by crook other Burnley fans had tickets in the home stands. The rest of us said thank the Lord for SKY and put an extra shilling in the electric meter just in case.

The night before Mrs T had said, ‘Are you nervous?’

I said I wasn’t but by the morning I was. ‘Champions’ has a wonderful ring to it. It’s not something you can put on your CV too often. It would be the icing on the cake and anyway wouldn’t it be just a hell of an achievement to go half a season undefeated, a new post-war record and all on a day of glorious sunshine in the capital. Meanwhile, all of us wanted Brighton to win at Boro. Karanka had shot himself in the foot as far as we were concerned with his barbed remarks about Dyche and Burnley. Knowing the trophy was up there it would be nice to say: ‘look this is what you could have won.’

It had been a few years since Burnley had been involved in any end of season game that could be described as truly meaningless or lacking in any interest, the kind of game where we’d go along out of a sense of duty and then sit and doze as the season ebbed away.  This one was up there with all those end of season games that had so much depending on them, be it winning promotion or avoiding relegation. Burnley has had a great record of winning games at Charlton; it was a 3-0 win in the last promotion season. If we could have chosen a team to play against for this final game, Charlton might well have been the popular choice.

Charlton fans had their own plans to get their message across that they wanted their owners out and their club back. A huge sit-in was being organised to disrupt things as much as possible in front of the main stand entrances and the ticket offices. Charlton had hired an extra 100 security staff to prevent objects being taken inside. The popular bet was sprouts. As it turned out it seemed to be just rolled up balls of paper and the occasional flare in the second half.

Burnley Football Club means so much to so many people – like Tom Tomlinson from Cambridge – on pins like the rest of us hoping we could win the title:

Being a Burnley fan living in Cambridge means I have made the trip up so many times over the years by both train and road. This time was different, not sure why; myself and my two boys, Sam 23 and Jack 20, had decided weeks before that this, QPR, was the game and we had decided on a stop-over at The Premier Inn. I was nervous, the boys in high spirits; last time I had felt this nervous for a home game was Orient in 1987.

     The days very different on the pitch, very different off the pitch; in 1987 in a very rare occurrence my dad let me down and said we could not go to Orient. I was distraught. 15 days before I had major knee surgery to correct a ruptured ligament, but aged 14 I defied my dad and went anyway.

    The day ended with me sitting on the pitch crying my eyes out, for three reasons. My beloved Clarets were staying up; because of the late kick-off and the celebrations that followed I was going to miss my train home; and last but definitely not least during the melee on the pitch I got knocked down right on my bad knee. 

     But this time, events up to kick-off were much less traumatic. An easy journey up followed by a cheeky breakfast in The Boot; the usual over-spend in the Turf in town, parked up and in the fan zone for 12.30.

     My son said to me at half-time during the Brighton game “can you feel it?”


     “This is it, it’s our day,” and he winked. At Wembley in 2009 a rather worse for wear Claret said this to us as we were going in and randomly hugged and kissed us.

     You know the rest, Brighton drew; we won. I was sat in the David Fishwick the same as ’87. I found myself on the pitch the same as ’87. I hugged Sam Vokes, Joey Barton, I got knocked over again but I got up again (there may be a song there) and the night ended with celebrations, songs and family in an ale house I have never frequented before.

     We’ve not been able to get Charlton tickets, so SKY it is, followed by a Bar B Q in the garden – and no doubt another sore head. Tom Tomlinson

     The morning dragged, 9 o’ clock, 10 o’ clock and 11 o’ clock. At last coverage started. Common sense said this should be a win, but Charlton had other ideas and were slick, pacey and carved out regular chances. Burnley were sluggish but took the lead with a fine goal, in truth their first bout of dangerous passing of the game; it took them to the edge of the box whereupon Ward put a superb low ball over that eluded the defenders and there was Vokes to tap home. What utter relief and joy at the same time.

Burnley we thought would settle and begin to turn it on and dominate the game. Wrong: this was a limp showing, letting Charlton have possession, the defence dropping back and giving them space so that it was Heaton that was the saviour several times, three of his saves being world class. The half continued in the same vein with a Charlton goal looking inevitable so meek were Burnley.

It was a Burnley player that revealed to the SKY team on the way out for the second half that they’d had the mother of all bollockings in the dressing room. Irony indeed, in the most recent interview Dyche had said he didn’t throw teacups but it was clear that he could dish out the verbals. It might have been so different in the first half if attempts on goal from outside the box had been of the Bobby Charlton thunderbolt variety rather than the ambitious attempts to float clever shots into the top corner. At least three times this happened as if the players were having some kind of competition to see who could actually manage to score this way. All of them went into the crowd behind.

The second goal came early in the second half and it was another beauty, an Alka Seltzer goal, settling the stomach. Three passes and the ball was out on the left with Lowton this time; the cross came over and Gray got a head and flicked the ball to Boyd beyond him just outside the 6-yard box. Boyd controlled it, took his time, he had plenty of it, enough to read the programme, not a Charlton player near him. He slammed the ball home. Delirium this time, not just relief; surely that was it, the game was won and the title belonged to Burnley.

And then it got even better. Within a minute Burnley had scored again with a stunning goal. You could have been forgiven for momentarily switching off and missing it; since when do Burnley ever score two in a minute?  Marney sent a glorious 50-yard pinpoint pass out wide left to Gray. Gray just about controlled, cut in, and fired home an angled shot. And that was that, job done, game won, play out the game, and be crowned champions, except the cup the team held aloft was a plastic inflatable that a fan had brought, apparently all the way up from Cornwall.

Charlton played with verve to the very end, their fans by now having spent the final 20 minutes of the game making their feelings known but without seriously disrupting the game. Stewards with sand and buckets periodically ran on to the pitch to gather up the flares, the firework kind, not a pair of 70’s trousers. At the end of the game there was one of those lovely sporting moments when Burnley fans in their hundreds on the pitch, stood at the Charlton end to applaud them and their protests. The Charlton fans returned the applause.

Whilst the two Charlton fans on the SKY sofa at the Charlton end of the pitch no doubt squirmed and grimaced, we at home on our best-room, parlour sofas, sat back and relaxed as soon as that third goal went in. Now we could enjoy it. Now we knew we were the champions and on the very last day, in the very last game, number 23 of the unbeaten run since Boxing Day, we were not just going up, we were the Championship Winners in a season without one red card. Not that you would have thought so from the niggardly coverage on the news channels where Middlesbrough seemed to take centre stage. It would have surprised no-one if the BBC had announced that the Championship winners were Barnsley. Let’s face it Burnley are not front page news and whilst at Leicester, galactico Andrea Bocelli was singing centre-stage; at Burnley we’ve got Chumbawamba and the Milltown Brothers if one day we need a flashy intro.

Dyer, Barnes and Duff came on and for Duff it must have been an emotional moment. It was announced afterwards that this was his retirement game. What a dignified way to leave the game, on his own terms, at the very top, over 600 career appearances, nearly 400 of them for Burnley, a player who is respected and admired. How well he has served Burnley Football Club, helping them win three promotions to the Premier League, a quite unique achievement, and a member now of the Burnley Hall of Fame.

Sunday morning and normally I’d be out buying extra papers, but this time what was the point. Champions and heading to the Prem but as far as the media were concerned, still little Burnley, unfashionable, and barely worth more than a paragraph. The esteemed Sunday Telegraph was a case in point.  On the very front page of the broadsheet main section was the top-of-page banner Joy for Burnley, Middlesbrough and of course Leicester. Wow I thought maybe a feature inside. In the actual sports section there was not one single mention. The Sunday Mirror had a two page spread on Middlesbrough. Burnley was a footnote at the bottom of the page. Never mind, here we were in deepest Leeds, with flags in the garden and banners in the windows. An inflatable trophy would have looked grand on the doorstep if I could have found one.

But the best was yet to come. There was a new hot ticket in town and they had sold out weeks earlier; tickets for the Gala Player Awards Evening at the club the day after the Charlton game. Win the title on Saturday and a Gold ticket party just 24 hours later. 600 of us squeezed in around the tables laden with food and wine, on a glittering celebration evening.

But this time the trophy was real.



It was a belter of a game on the Friday might of the penultimate weekend and for 94 minutes we were all Birmingham fans. It was a tame first 20 minutes and it would have been more entertaining reading the telephone directory. Slimmed down though it now is, there’s still enough content to put anyone to sleep.

And then it livened up, became end to end stuff with Brum’s Donaldson, Cotterill and Fabbrini catching the eye. Our nerves twang quite enough when we watch Burnley, now they were twanging watching Birmingham. We roared when they took the lead, there were reports of fireworks in Padiham, groaned when Rhodes equalised with as daft and scruffy goal as you will ever see involving a Sunday morning goalkeeper error, groaned even more when Boro then went ahead, beat the air and settee in delight when Birmingham scored again with a screamer. And then we decided the linesman was just the nicest man in the world when he disallowed a third Boro goal that looked perfectly OK. Nugent came on in the final minutes and we assumed the worst that he would score in extra time. The script was written for him. He didn’t. Karanka of course insisted afterwards that the world was against Boro and different ref rules were being applied to them. He was called various things on the Burnley websites, none of them repeatable.

2-2 it ended and immediately out came the calculators, equations and formulae, notepads, backs of envelopes, scraps of paper and old maths books as most of Burnley and Clarets everywhere from Todmorden to Tasmania  hurriedly jotted down all the different remaining results and points and permutations and possibilities until our heads were spinning. And still we couldn’t quite work it out definitively. Burnley had two games remaining, Brighton had two and Boro just one and now had 88 points with the other two on 87.

On the websites and messageboards the common theme was that the obsessive figuring out of the final positions was doing people’s heads in. As far as I could make out as long as Burnley beat QPR, whatever else happened, Burnley would be up in at least second spot. And then my brow furrowed, I thought again, out came the bit of scrap paper again and I re-did the calculations – and still I wasn’t bloody sure. Only one thing could be said with certainty and that was if Burnley won BOTH their games, yes, they were UP.

The next games were not until two days later, another 48 hours of thinking and wondering and computing and calculating and the Burnley game was an absolute sell-out of home seats with extra blocks opened in the Cricket Field Stand. The media, TV, press, websites had at last cottoned on to this fantastic end to the season and the endless variations of results and scenarios. The three sides had just five games left between them yet no-one seemed able to say with 100% certainty which club would end up top or second. None of us could remember an ending quite like it. Sales of black market mogadon and nitrazepan had trebled. Doctor’s surgeries were besieged by insomniacs seeking help.

Sunday, Tour de Yorkshire, May Day, pole dancing and stuff, Morris Dancers, village greens, white rabbits, no Burnley report to read in the Sundays, although there was a Dyche feature in one of them; countdown to the Monday game against QPR. Speculation, calculation, ponderation, can they do it, can we do it, joy or gloom, relegated Bolton beat top-six Hull to demonstrate yet again that nothing is for certain. Doomed Charlton the last day opponents won away at Leeds. Nerves, head scratching, finger nails, grey hair, 50 shades of it, celebration or commiseration, what would it be?

Superstition and compulsive disorders were widespread. Since the unbeaten run began some people had worn the same shirt to every game, or walked avoiding the cracks, chins had gone unshaven, and there were lucky scarves. Some folks had worn the same socks; one guy had odd socks, no matter what the weather one guy always wore his duffle coat, one person had worn the same items of jewellery, drivers took the same routes, people ate the same breakfast and put clothes on in the same order. It’s football; we do these things. It’s all phooey, baloney and tosh, course it is… but I made sure I put my left shoe on first.

Monday arrived, Jeremy Corbyn in town, early morning grey skies, cold and drab again, with Brighton set to play early afternoon so that for now we were all Derby fans with Shackell forgiven and all of us urging him to be the wonderful, handsome, urbane, imperturbable and elegant player that had once condescended to grace our turf and earned our admiration until he had decided the Derby grass was greener. His departure was temporarily forgiven; as the game kicked off we were his most ardent devotees again.

The carnival atmosphere at the ground was astonishing, the atmosphere unique; the anticipation utterly immense. Outside the Fanzone beer tent a huge TV screen had been erected showing the Brighton game. Food stalls and activities made the whole thing more like a country fair. This was shoulder to shoulder stuff, cars crammed in the car park, drinkers squeezed round the big screen, armies of fans marching up Harry Potts Way, more extra blocks of seats opened up, and a total sense of expectation you could have bottled.

We watched the big screen and urged Derby as if they were our own. That is to say we watched the big screen if we could get near it.  How many people there – at least a thousand glued to the giant TV, many with pints in hand willing Derby to help us out. And indeed they did; the roar that greeted the Derby goal was the equal of any that salutes most Burnley goals. Priceless, exactly what we wanted, but a Derby win was surely just too much to hope for. So it proved, with Brighton equalising very late. 1-1 it ended still a great result for Burnley so that now we knew we could say for sure ‘win and we go up.’

Early rain had changed to bright, sunny, but still cold skies. The sun shone but the promised 75 degrees was still a few days away. Anyway it was the Daily Express that was forecasting a min- heatwave and we all know how accurate their weather news is.  The roar and volume of noise that filled the ground when Burnley came out was awesome, almost frightening. These were our gladiators; shut your eyes and it might have been Ancient Rome with us willing QPR to succumb and fail so that we could give them the thumbs-down and see them mercilessly despatched. Oh for a performance that matched that against Wigan two years earlier when Burnley had purred like a Rolls Royce with immaculate passing, individuals skills, and sprinted like greyhounds, all in equal measure.

But, oh dear, alas this was not a day that Burnley purred like a Daimler or a Bentley and Dyche at the end had to acknowledge that this was not a good day at the office. This was not a Rolls Royce display this was a 20-year old Skoda failing its MOT, stuttering, coughing and spluttering.  Dyche said they couldn’t be brilliant every day; this was all about the result, about their resilience, hard work and strong chins. And they needed those strong chins with QPR outmuscling Burnley time and again and with Vokes and Gray fighting for scraps.

Heaton in the first half proved the old Cloughie adage that a good goalkeeper is worth a dozen points a season and his string of first half saves earned the three points just as much as the Vokes header that decided the game. It wasn’t quite shooting practice for QPR, but the chances they created and the shots they had, could have so easily won any other game but for Heaton’s cat-like vigilance and sharpness.

In truth this game by half-time had ‘upset’ written all over it so that it seemed inevitable that everything would go right to the last day down at Charlton. They were not playing well, but we willed them to grab the priceless win that would take them up but this was a game that was scrappy, decent football at a premium, flair absent, it’s like they’ve got their feet stuck in glue, said Mrs T at half-time. Nerves, apprehension reigned supreme.

A goal seemed a million miles away, but then a free-kick in the sixtieth minute out wide. Jones, he of the sweet left foot, the other is just for standing on, took it low and in-swinging. Was this a training ground move? It looked like it as Vokes suddenly darted in front of the markers to the corner of the 6-yard box. The perfect trajectory connected with this head that glanced it into the far corner of the net. Blink and you missed, such was the speed of the whole thing and there it was; the ball nestling in the corner of the net and the ground going mental.

It didn’t quite sink in at first, the brain didn’t compute, it was so out of the blue, had we really scored, was promotion now firmly in our hands. The noise roared round the ground, the mood changed, the support increased, confidence grew, there was now a different kind of inevitability that we were going to win this game, as if the script was clear, that the draws for Boro and Brighton had now opened the door for Burnley into the Premier League. Riches as great as those that Carter found in Tutankhamen’s tomb beckoned.

Now there really was belief and conviction, this was going to happen, it was ordained, the win was just part of the great masterplan that this was the day when everything converged, the stars were aligned as they should be, and that everything so far had been the precursor to this one result. QPR had been so much better than Burnley yet here we were winning 1-0. QPR hit the post with a stunning curling shot, yet here we were still winning 1-0 and it just seemed that nothing was going to take that away even though there were 20 minutes left although you could be forgiven for thinking that Referee Moss had other ideas.

Moss contrived to disallow a perfectly good second Burnley goal when he spotted the goalkeeper on the floor as the Vokes header went in. The nearest player to the goalkeeper was a QPR player; it looked to me that the keeper had just keeled over to get the free kick. As it turned out it didn’t matter but it might have done. A QPR player should have been red-carded as early as the 2nd minute when he lunged into the back of Barton’s ankles from behind with a horrendous challenge. Moss gave a yellow. The most curious thing he did was noticed by many people. As the first half ticked away QPR took a corner, the ball was cleared, Moss raised the whistle to his lips to blow for the end of the half, a QPR player steamed in to take a shot, Moss lowered the whistle as if to give the lad time to take the shot, the player took the shot, then Moss blew for half-time. According to Mrs T he blew for full-time absolutely spot on and it was then the signal for the ground to rise as one in acclaim and utter, wild jubilation.

The little club had done it again although this time, said Dyche, it was not the same kind of fairytale as it was two years earlier when the promotion was a surprise to everyone and Burnley snuck in under the radar.  This season it had been planned and designed as a result of losing three key players and bringing new players in. And on top of all that was the expectation placed on club and players this time round that was so different to two years ago. The experts and media expected that Burnley would at least be in the top six; other managers referred to the ex-Premiership players and the huge sums Burnley had supposedly spent.  And hadn’t Karanka in his moment of pique said that he’d have had Burnley promoted by February.

What poetic justice that Sam Vokes who missed so much of the last Premier Season should score the goal, the £200million goal, the magical goal, the solitary goal that brought unbridled joy and an eruption of seismic proportions, that brings financial security for another four years, a pot of cash so great now that the jar on the mantelpiece will surely be replaced by a wheelbarrow in the corner of the boardroom filled with Premiership gold.  A great club, great town and great people commented both Steve Cotterill and Ian Holloway that deserve this success and promotion.

A genius, said Holloway of Dyche. ‘I lived round here for three or four years,’ he said. ‘I know these people.’ Both he and Cotterill received applause every time they walked round the perimeter to get to their broadcast and summary pitchside point.

We put away our slide rules and calculators, formulae and equations, cleared our heads, superstition flew out the window, it didn’t really matter anymore which sock we put on first, Burnley were UP. We knew it at last and we all sang ‘til it rang around the ground. .  And now you’re gonna believe us… and now you’re gonna believe us.


        At last after all these years of lies, smears and cover-ups the South Yorkshire Police were found guilty of unlawfully killing the 96 victims of Hillsborough. 27 years it has taken to see the truth out in the open at long last. The affected families and campaigners have been magnificent. Those who hid evidence and doctored testimonies have been shameful; the institutionalised cover-up was monumental and the society of Freemasons in South Yorkshire now comes under scrutiny. And then there is of course the role of Margaret Thatcher. Of course the verdict was big news and as we watched TV replays of the scenes at Hillsborough, the horrifying scale of the disaster came flooding back. Not only were there 96 deaths but there were over 700 injuries with many of that group still suffering the effects. The effects on the families will never go away and listening to them and the campaign leaders brought lumps to our throats. Ordinary men and women beat the ‘system’ to get this verdict. It took them three decades; they have been simply wonderful.

It was St George’s Day, it was the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare, and Obama astonishingly threatened Britain with the back of the Trade Agreement queue if we left the EU. Burnley sat top of the league. A sheepdog somehow walked 240 miles over 12 days to get back to its first home after it had been sold to someone in the far north. We saw hailstones like golf balls, snow on the streets of London and hills covered in snow. Somehow Van Gaal’s Man United had sneaked a way through to the FA Cup Final. Mourhino was linked with the job there. It was not far short of a year since Danny Ings went to Liverpool and now Burnley fans sat waiting for the result of the tribunal.

Meanwhile we were all over the moon with the win at Preston. And it was Charlton versus Brighton and Middlesbrough versus Ipswich. We were asking who would be the first to blink. The answer to that came when Middlesbrough could only draw at home. They dropped two more points. Brighton of course won at Charlton as everyone expected them to but could only score three thus leaving Burnley still with the better goal difference. It meant that with just two games remaining for each team it was Burnley still at the top of the pile, not Middlesbrough – but only just.

With Burnley having played on the Friday night and no further game until May 2, there would be a ridiculous ten games without a game. At this stage of the season it seemed absurd but there it was and so we looked at all the permutations over and again.

IF Burnley won their last two games they would be champions if they could maintain the better goal difference. If either Boro or Brighton won their last 2 games and scored enough goals then Burnley would only be runners-up. One of the two could drop all three points on the last day, or both of them would drop two points if they drew their final game against each other.

And Burnley’s final two games, the first at home to QPR and the very last game at Charlton with away tickets already sold out. The Charlton game against Brighton was marred by crowd scenes, marches, protests and a delayed start. The natives were restless down there and who could blame them seeing their club relegated against a background of contentious ownership. Trouble is, it posed a serious question.

What would happen if due to crowd scenes and pitch invasions the final game of the season was badly affected and abandoned? The season before, the final game at Blackpool was indeed abandoned when fans vented their spleen. It was decided in that case that because the demonstration was so late in the game it would not be replayed as it had no bearing on the season’s final placings. But at Charlton in such a high profile game, with the possibility of Burnley’s promotion or Championship title hanging on it, exactly what would happen? It was a genuine question and one that added spice to an already enthralling finale, especially in front of 3,000 Burnley fans and some Charlton fans threatening to throw not just Brussel Sprouts onto the pitch but boxes of drawing pins. Their fans were adamant; the campaign and disruptions would be unrelenting until they got their club back and the Belgian, Duchatelet, was no longer owner. The Clarets could face organised chaos someone noted. How would the team react; how would 3,000 Burnley fans react?

Clearly the Charlton fans have good reason to dislike Brussels for reasons other than the EU and its 43,000 bureaucrats. Whilst us other footie fans might be more worried by being banned from the Champions League if we leave (unlikely), that we won’t be allowed to call British sausages ‘bangers,’ and that we will be invaded by giant French snails, the Charlton supporters had more serious reasons to dislike someone from Belgium.

Dyche sang Joey Barton’s praises after the Preston game and not for the first time. ‘He was excellent and he’s been excellent all round. He’s still delivering and has a real thirst to be successful. He continues to be in among that group that’s got that. He’s been a good example to the whole group. He’s been fantastic. He’s still got his edge and desperately wants to be successful. It’s a great credit to him. A lot of people said I was losing my senses signing Joey. But the lads enjoy having him around; he allows other players to come to the fore.’

Preston manager Simon Grayson echoed those thoughts and was complimentary about Burnley in general: ‘he’s been a fantastic signing. He manages his game both with the ball and without it. He shows his experience and plays that position really well. When you look at Burnley and their recovery runs they get back into their shape. They have players who can influence games.’

And now it was 21 unbeaten games. It was a remarkable achievement, we all agreed, and yet it hadn’t produced any clear lead at the top; too many draws had seen to that plus the other two sides each having good long runs of consecutive wins. Most of us probably wanted Middlesbrough to be the one that would miss out, on account of Karanka’s unwarranted comments about Dyche and then Burnley’s style of play. Already there were stories that whatever happened he would leave at the season’s end.

But outside the Premier League did the media really care? Not on Saturday morning after the away win at Preston. Here was the team that had just gone top again in a local derby game but there was not a mention of the game at all in three dailies that I saw; page after page of Premier League stuff but not a mention of PNE 0 Burnley 1.

On Monday 25, at last the media in a limited kind of way did begin to cotton on to the situation at the top even looking at what would happen in the event of the teams in second and third place having identical records with nothing to separate them, not impossible if all the final games had the ‘right’ results. It could happen for the first time ever that second and third would face a play-off game, to decide who would take second place and who went into the actual play-offs. A unique situation was brewing including the unheard of scenario that top and second could be in a similar position with utterly identical records so that this would entail a play-off to decide who would take the Championship title.

And then we came back to the obvious; if Burnley went out and won their last two fixtures none of this would matter one jot. They would be up. And there was that word again… if…

The pundits also latched onto the Charlton situation and hoped that their fans’ common sense would prevail. It would be bad enough that Burnley might face a game that would decide how their season would end, without having to worry about would the game even finish. And by now everyone was noting that the jackpot would be up to £200million by the time parachute payments and extra commercial income were taken into account.

In our blinkered view of football (what else matters but Burnley FC) just sometimes we can lift up our heads and see other football news. Leicester City slammed four past Swansea to go 8 points ahead again in their fairytale season. Some might argue it is not a fairytale and that they have fabulously wealthy owners; that some years ago they went into administration and came out of it smelling of roses and that two years ago there might just have been some financial diddling going on in their promotion season. But that doesn’t take anything away from the present crop of players who have performed miracles. Spurs could only draw at home to West Brom so that Leicester’s lead was only cut by one point.

Leicester on the verge of winning the Premier League, Burnley on the verge of promotion again, Accrington on the verge of promotion; it would be an astonishing end to the season if all three clubs reached their destination.

It was a week when we could look at moments in past games that with a better outcome might have secured promotion earlier (February according to Karanka), Cardiff goalkeeper Marshall’s super saves in the home game against Cardiff, the sure-fire penalty that was not awarded in the home game against Ipswich, the Wolves last minute equaliser at Turf Moor being just some of them. Then there were the moments of luck that preserved the unbeaten run, the ball gently looping over Heaton and bouncing off the crossbar in the home game against Cardiff not to mention the number of times that opposing managers and fans must have wondered just how Burnley had beat them.

Even almost a full week before the QPR game the excitement was mounting with not much more than 200 tickets remaining and the club opening up another block in the Cricket Field Stand. It promised to be an absolute sell-out despite it being live on TV. If the two other big results of the weekend went the right way, it would be the game that could see Burnley promoted we hoped. But there were no assumptions, no presumption of a win. Football is too unpredictable. West Brom demonstrated that at White Hart Lane to the chagrin of Spurs supporters, glum-faced at the final whistle. Ipswich too demonstrated the first rule of football at Middlesbrough – take nothing for granted. Barton we knew would be relishing the game. We all remembered the incident of the coke bottle when one landed on his head at Turf Moor. We all remembered that he made no fuss at all and just got on with the game.

We messed about with all the possible results permutations until we went stupid, but in reality what it boiled down to was that if one of them, Brighton or Boro, only drew their penultimate game and Burnley beat QPR, then Burnley were up… or did it… and then we scratched our heads again? But what gave us nightmares was both of them winning their penultimate games and Burnley losing to QPR. If they then drew their final game against each other that was Burnley goosed and consigned to the play-offs.

I wondered if I was becoming just a tad obsessed. Driving to Wetherby I deliberated, my mind was drifting, if we would manage the fairytale again or would we fall short at the last two hurdles. Shopping at M&S and perusing the cauliflowers I was thinking that Ashley Barnes was due a goal. In a meeting I was dreamily distracted hoping that Birmingham could do something against Boro on Friday. Watching an episode of Blue Bloods I lost the plot because I was thinking just keep two clean sheets and somehow nick a goal at the other end, that’s all we ask. Wandering round Home Bargains looking for cheap tins of beans my mind is at Turf Moor and it’s half-time and we’re 3-0 up already against QPR. I’m watching Master Joe (too big now to call Little Joe) in the football training session on Tuesday night; he scores a hat-trick in one game, which sets me thinking can Andre Gray grab a hat-trick in either of the last two games? And then when Mrs T asks what veg we shall have with our dinner I’m thinking Charlton…protests… Duchatelet… Belgian… Brussels… sprouts. And it’s only Tuesday and the QPR game is still six days away. This is getting ridiculous, I decided; it’s time to get a life.

But well done Ben Mee. At the Supporter’s Clubs Awards night he was named Player of the Season with Joey Barton the runner up. Game after game it has been Joey B that has been in the spotlight and his performances have been consistently exceptional whilst Andre Gray has been the darling of the Press with his goals record. But unobtrusively doing his job in the background Ben Mee has been a huge success; a centre half by trade, but played as a full back for so long that many folk seemed surprised by his performances in the middle of the back four since it was re-organised after Boxing Day. He isn’t the tallest guy on the block but somehow he has that priceless ability to time his jumps and out-head forwards inches taller than himself. His bravery is the stuff of legends; who will forget the time he headed the ball when it was actually on the floor and boots were flailing and kicking all around him. Single minded, eyes only for the ball, never mind the lumps, bumps and bruises, classic attributes of a rock-solid centre back; he’s one of the quiet ones and goes unnoticed… but not by the supporters.