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Reflections on a Season.

They say 'it is not all over until the fat lady sings'. Perhaps it is not yet all over in terms of the results and our possible/probable relegation. The choice of possible/probable is yours and to be honest, I am not bothered which you choose.

My opinions reflect a much more profound, more visceral change that has occurred this season.

I expected relegation. Before the season started I got a lengthy airing on 606 espousing my views on our prospects for the season. Relegation I said, principally for two reasons. First, I thought our tough start would knock out any post-promotion euphoria and playing catch up would be beyond us (how wrong I was there). Second, Owen's signings. For the most part, they looked to be for the future, Mears and Fletcher excepted, and would enable us to build a young team, capable of making another sustained attempt. I think I was right, that they were not signings for the Premiership but, unfortunately, I fear, I might also be proved wrong about the future and that most will play no part in that either.

19th August 2009. What a birthday! Lunch sitting outside in the sunshine overlooking York Minster. Not bad in anyone's book, but a mere starter to the main course. I am sure that we all have our own personal memories of that great night. Mine? Phoning my son, who was watching in a Bar in the States, so he could listen to the atmosphere at the final whistle first hand. The noise was so intense that I never got to speak to him. For the sake of any non-Burnley supporters, it was Burnley 1, Manchester United 0. Yes, Burnley 1 United 0.

Results came, at home at least, and away from home, most certainly went. Blackburn away. Expectations high. Robbie Blake scored. Expectations realised? Surely this must be the day the jinx was broken? Back to reality. Expectation dashed yet again. Another Burnley away day.

Next up,Wigan at home. For someone who spent his earliest years within walking distance of Springfield Park, and whose family still live close by, it was more important than most. I can not recall seeing anything approaching a half decent game against Wigan, but with both in the Premier League, perhaps I could hope.

After a half decent start some familiar comic book defending from Burnley handed Wigan the easiest goal they will score all season. It is good to see that, even though we have reached arguably the pinnacle of world domestic football, the old traditions do not disappear and we can still defend like a Sunday morning pub team after a night on the tiles.

Back we came though and at half time it was all square. I recall my brother saying that Wigan were there for the taking. He is less of a fortune teller than me and Wigan ran out fairly comfortable 3 1 winners. What struck me was not the defeat but the difference in quality. Wigan are not a good team. In fact, if we had any chance of avoiding the drop, they would be one of the teams that we would need to see down there. What frightened me was that they had something we did not have. Big, athletic, physical, fast, powerful players, with more than a little skill. Not many it must be said, but enough to confirm the paucity of our squad. Enough to confirm that a tough task was even tougher than we had thought originally.

On to Everton and Goodison Park. I still remember sitting in the Cantilever stand watching a youth cup game in 1968 and thinking I would fall off and onto the pitch. My memories are not so much of the game, although we deserved more than a defeat, but of the quiz in the local pub that evening. Sitting, wearing my Burnley shirt with pride despite the injustices of the day, to be confronted with the question 'which football club is Owen Coyle the manager of'. In a season short of laughter, perhaps the season's lightest moment.

Milton Keynes away. My sister Margaret is proud and has a long memory. Not for her to add respectability to the concept of franchise football by gracing the windy bowl with her presence. Instead, she relied upon a text from me at nil up of 'jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, oh what fun it it is to see Burnley win away'. 'A bit early for that' she responded. She was nearly right. A late Milton Keynes reply and suddenly all the nerves and, probably by now shattered confidence, returned. A 2 1 victory was achieved, but by end, we were clinging on by our finger tips in what was to become Owen's last game. The deterioration since the heady days of August was there for all to see.

Owen, off to pastures new and the new man eagerly awaited. Steve Maclaren was my first choice. When the likely candidates emerged, it was clear that I had allowed the euphoria of Premier League status to increase my expectation levels to unsustainable highs and as the realistic candidates emerged, it was clear more modest fare was on offer in line with our real status.

Was Brian Laws my first choice? No! Nor was he my second or third choice. When did I change my mind and realise that he might not be such a bad appointment and that all was not well with the world? Manchester United away.

Brian's first game in charge and an immediate change of tactics. Having realised how weak we were through the centre, he pulled the full backs in, allowing United wingers acres of space. Acres of space when they could do nothing, with the threat of the early ball in nullified. Let them have the ball, then move out to them thus giving the defensive midfielders time to drop back and cover the gap in the centre. Half time came and a rare event. No goals conceded. Hurrah.

The criticism of the manager on the concourse was beyond belief. Nil Nil against Manchester United away and his tactics were being slated by some. I know a few fans had made their displeasure with Brian's appointment clear on message boards, but surely they were not real fans. Surely he would be given a chance. Surely he was not being hounded out after 45 minutes of frustrating the reigning champions? I was wrong again. He was. Something was not right.

I assume that when Owen went to Bolton the gene that resulted in the ridiculous treatment that their fans handed out to Gary Megson must have been part of the compensation package and had come to pollute certain sections of Burnley Football Club. I have still enjoyed the football despite the increasing frequency of defeats but the atmosphere, particularly at home, has gradually become more and more sullied.

Wolves at home and encounters with two of the most obnoxious people I have ever encountered. Having defended more than the odd criminal in my youth, I have met some obnoxious people and these two are up there with the worst of them.

Two rows behind me sat a particularly foul mouthed individual. He was intent on spending the entire game loudly criticising every element, wth each and every individual mistake being laid at Brian Law's door. Far worse than that was another individual calling me a word I reserve for my worst enemies and threatening physical violence just for supporting my team.

I can live with odd idiots like those two and you can not judge the majority by the actions of such people. What did upset me though was the thought that this is not an isolated case but is just the head of an increasingly rotten fish. I do not know the views of the majority. I do know however that an increasingly sordid and ugly atmosphere in the ground and on message boards has replaced the early season camaraderie and is spoiling what should be a special season.

Certainly, defeats are hard to take, relegation is harder still. I have seen more than enough of both but never, never, have have I experienced the level of negativity that now consumes the fans.

Football has always been a matter of opinions. That is part of its beauty, part of its appeal. The game would not be the same without it. Opinions, given honestly, received openly. Opinions, agreements and disagreements have consumed more hours of my life than is healthy, Vitriol, insults and in some cases near hatred should not be confused with opinions though.

I will still be there next season, the fixture list still dominating my social life. I will still cheer my team on. I will still feel elation when we win, despair when we lose. I will still question team selections, tactics and every other facet of the game.

To end with another music analogy. In the words of Don McLean, the day that Buddy Holly died was the day the music died. My love affair with Burnley is not yet over but, even though this season should have been worth all the earlier heartaches, the atmosphere is such that something inside has died.


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The Journalist

Writer: turfmanphil Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday April 6 2010

Time: 1:29PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
There is no doubt the bad run of form and the managerial changes have affected us all in diffferent ways. Some clearly don't want to read opinions they consider negative whereas others want to put over those opinions strongly because they have genuine concerns. I certainly think those opinions should be kept on messageboards and not aired forcefully at games in the form of booing etc but I also think as you suggest opinions are fine providing they don't become too insulting & personal. Everybody though defines the latter differently and it is not clear sometimes where to draw the line especially in forums
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06/04/2010 13:38:00

That was a really good read TeddyL. Welcome to the site. I hope you will write more. A couple of thoughts... It's been widely recognised for some time that people are far less polite to each other (and to those they are writing about) on websites than in other places. What's not yet clear is whether having websites where you can be 'rude', 'honest', 'blunt', 'despairing', 'insulting', 'impolite', 'uncivil' (Call it what you will.) has begun to affect how we behave in the real world. TL's article makes me wonder whether perhaps it has. My other thought is that perhaps the price to pay, in our increasingly unequal world, of having the chance to hang around for a few months with those of quite staggering wealth, is being left feeling somehow betrayed, and turning to anger and hate as a way of expressing that feeling.
Couch Potato
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06/04/2010 14:04:00

Welcome Teddy. Good article. 'I do know however that an increasingly sordid and ugly atmosphere in the ground and on message boards has replaced the early season camaraderie and is spoiling what should be a special season' Absolutely spot on and I agree completely. This is probably the main thing that has made the season less enjoyable for me than it should have been.
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06/04/2010 14:27:00

Nice one Ted. I agree with your comments about forums and have just submitted an article for the next issue of WTBM on them and the overall phone-in culture pervading football at present. We all think our opinions are correct but I have certainly changed my outlook on certain issues by reading what contributors like Phil, The Couch, Dale and Vin have written on this site - though we can't possibly agree on everything. Unlike some other places this site has been open to all to express their opinions in a constructive fashion though recently things have become a little more heated. Certainly some of the fun has gone out of it as a result but I suppose football is never as enjoyable when the team you support isn't doing well. Perhaps the close season will allow everyone to take a step back and return with optimism next year.
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06/04/2010 14:54:00

Heated debate and strong emotions always come out on forums at times like these. Adversity brings out the best and worst in folk! The sale of Turf Moor and the Cotterill bashing have been the two I recall the most for their intensity prior to our current predicament but at the same time, I think what some folk need to do is try and let a lot of this stuff wash over them and not let it affect them too much. Forums,decent ones at least should encourage debate but curb folks excesses in terms of getting personal against fellow posters for having a different opinion or excessive,expletive name calling of the Board, manager and players. I hope and think we have the balance about right on VB but it's impossible to please everybody all of the time
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06/04/2010 15:12:00

any chance you lot could play Cork for the remaining games. Seems like after he came on, you guys drew the second half. use the quality while you still have it and keep thinking positive. after all, pompey can still survive...
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06/04/2010 15:55:00

Cork does need to start in my opinion. I have been largely impressed with him when has played.
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06/04/2010 16:03:00

Yeah, while we have a chance, play Cork. But as and when the fat lady has started singing, we should switch to giving playing time to players EITHER who we wnat to develop for when they are with us next year OR who we want to sell for as much as possible OR who we want to give a last chance to impress OR, in the case of Grezza and maybe Robbie, give them what could be a last chance to take a bow.
Couch Potato
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06/04/2010 16:24:00

I was trying to work out who OR was CP , and then I managed to pull myself together and sussed it. I like Cork as well, and hope he decides to stay with us regardless , or will Chelsea want him back maybe? He's one for the future (and present come to that) for sure. I think she's been singing for a few weeks now Couch, but she hasn't finished yet, so let's still hope that Brian pulls it off at Hull. Mathematics eh? It just keeps me hoping . . . .
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07/04/2010 00:04:00

By the way, enjoyed reading your article teddyl , I suspect that a lot of the negativity stems from the massive disappointment and anger as a result of Coyle leaving. I don't think Laws stood a chance with some, even before he started.
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07/04/2010 11:53:00

As they say football is a game of 2 halves, well that can also be said for our season, I real season of 2 halves. I keep hoping that this season will be reminisent as the Orient one when we pulled it off on the last day of the season however with Spurs at home on that day I can't really see that happening. They broke our heart once and are likely to do again. All those that are booing need to stop and just reflect how far we have come since the crucial Orient game. Don't get me wrong I to sometimes feel like booing, but as has been said earlier lets us the forum to let off steam and not at the games when we should full together as a massive family and get behind the team and each other.
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07/04/2010 12:01:00

What a joke of a team you have, what a joke of a manager you have and basically a what a joke of a club are you? Face facts your down and aint comin back up ;) Simples!
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07/04/2010 12:59:00

Very well thought out comments p.villa! Good contribution to the site!!!!!
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07/04/2010 13:01:00

At least we have a sense of humour p
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07/04/2010 13:15:00

p villa you appear to have too many a's? "basically a what a" I presume like the rest of your contribution it lacks something, maybe your village can help you with? Plus not wanting to sound sarcastic perhaps aint.....aint in my dictionary(lol), however as a true Dingle I do have the required digits on my hands and as sheclaret so wisely points out a sense of humour. Maybe failure for the Champions League and FA Cup and Carling Cup will cheer you up p.villa.
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07/04/2010 13:33:00

well said teddy and welcome
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07/04/2010 18:49:00

Teddy that was a spot on read.
Grimsby Claret
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08/04/2010 07:42:00


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