Posted: 5/25/2009


         It was almost 50 years ago that I last watched a match at Turf Moor. deep in East Lancashire and home of 'The Clarets', and nearby Pendle Hill and the Lancashire Witches.  I saw them beat Reims in the European Cup after they had won the English League Championship in 1960, and then as they lost to Hamburger SV, in the semi-final. They are an original member of The Football League since its inception in 1888 and have played at the same ground since 1883.  They will join Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City in the top tier.

       Burnley is a small town of about 85,000 and it seems that half the population deserted the place to travel down to Wembley on Bank Holiday Monday for the 60 million ($100 million) match against Sheffield United, 'The Blades', from the Steel City of South Yorkshire a city five times the size. The attendance at the big stadium was 80,500 and the prize was to be a place in the mega rich English Premier League alongside  'the royalty' of English football, from Merseyside, Manchester and London.

      In 1987 after 7 years adrift in Division 2, the 4th tier, they had to rely on a 2-1 win over Leyton Orient on the last day of the season to avoid relegation to The Conference.

      With a wonder goal from Wade Elliott in the 13th minute, 'The Clarets' hung on to reach the top tier after a lapse of 33 years. Both the Lancastrians and the Yorkists are very well run clubs, with, in my humble opinion, brilliant tactical coaches in Owen Coyle and Kevin Blackwell.  Coyle,who played in Scotland and England for many clubs including Clydebank, Airdrieonians, Bolton Wanderers,Dundee United (twice), Motherwell, Dunfermline, Ross County, Falkirk and St. Johnstone, after starting out with Dumbarton,was brought down from St. Johnstone in Perth in November, 2007. He should be a candidate for coach of the year with exciting attacking football, that has seen off Fulham, Chelsea and Arsenal in FA Cup and League Cup contests.  They lost 4-1 to Tottenham at White Hart Lane, only to make a come back in the second leg at Turf Moor, 3-0, and go out in extra time from a Roman Pavlyuchenko winner.

     For United it was third time unlucky after two previous play-off failures at the last hurdle. They are a big club that also have an ambitious chairman, Kevin McCabe, a thriving youth academy and own clubs and have finacial agreements in China, Australia and elsewhere, such as Chengdu Blades, Peruvian club Deportivo Wanka(honestly!!), Ferencvaros of Budapest, Central City Mariners, from down under, and White Star Woluwe of Belgium.

    They recently received a pay-off of about 25 million after a two year battle with West Ham United and the authorities over 'The Carlos Tevez' affair. Definitely not understood too well internationally is their 'anthem', 'The Greasy Chip Butty Song.'  The South Stand at Bramall Lane is sponsored by an Australian property group, VALAD.