|"Do the Football Gods Play Jokes? "|
|Written by Dave Thomas|
|Monday, 27 September 2010|
Do the football gods play jokes?
BURNLEY 4 PRESTON 3
Do the gods of football have a warped sense of humour? How could they possibly know that the Carling tie we all wanted was Bolton at Turf Moor? And that is what came out of the hat. Could there be a more mouth-watering, juicy, explosive, tasty tie than this. Forget Tottenham versus Arsenal. Forget any game against Blackburn Rovers. This one is the tie of the round as far as we are concerned. Maybe the media will pick up on it nearer the time. But SKY TV, however, did not pick it out to be televised, no surprise there then. The nuances and understones of this game are probably only obvious to us Burnley fans, still with feelings of let-down and harsh ingratitude for the relegation that came.
“I’d better put my tin hat on,” texted Owen Coyle to Brendan Flood. If this was a flippant, tongue in cheek little joke, I don’t think he realises the depth of feeling waiting for him.
And yes the football gods do play jokes on us. Me and Mrs T will not be there, we’ll be away, so we’ll miss the ear-splitting greeting that will be given to Owen Coyle, the jeers and catcalls that are sure to rain down, the banners that will surely appear, brought out of cupboards or from under the stairs where they have lain since the night at the Reebok earlier this year. I do not think for a minute that Owen Coyle will do a John Bond and disguise himself as a steward. He will stride onto the pitch and tough it out. He was told when he left, that if he walked out in mid-season that “he would be hated with a passion.” But when he was told, he just couldn’t see it. And: a dilemna for Brian Laws to face and a decision to ponder over – first team or squad players for this game? Bitterness still remains strong following the sorry end to last season. A Burnley win might just bring closure.
So Cardiff went top a couple of weeks ago after beating Portsmouth. Here’s some fascinating stuff about who pays the players’ wages from one of the Sunday hacks. Craig Bellamy receives £85k a week but £64k comes from Man City. Seyo Olifinjana receives £27k a week but £16 comes from Hull City. Jason Koumas receives £29k a week, but £19k comes from Wigan Athletic. Andy Keogh receives £22k a week and Wolves pay £12k. If my maths is right that means that Cardiff are subsidised to the tune of £111k a week which is nearly £6million a year. And that is twice what Burnley’s budget was just a matter of three or four years ago.
Written by fan Gary Silke, the blurb then goes on to say the rest of the piece is in the Leicester Mercury. So I googled the Mercury but where this article is escapes me. If anyone has found it do please get in touch. I eventually got to a page that said click here to read full article, which promptly took me back to where I started in the first place and all there was, was the first enticing paragraph. It was like one of those annoying attempts you make to get through to the right department of something like BT or British Gas, where there’s a multiple choice menu to go through, and all that happens after half an hour is you end up right back where you started.
One of the best football books I’ve read is John Aizlewood’s Playing at Home. Between August 1997 and May 1998 he went to a game at every one of the 92 League clubs. He got to Burnley when we played Plymouth in the Waddle end-of-season game that saw Burnley win and stay up. Aizlewood’s assessment of Burnley, the town, was much the same as Silke’s, that it is a unique place, with a unique bond between town and club. ‘This is real football, a place where football and town are the way they are because of each other… Charter Walk Shopping Centre, where short skirts are in, but shapely legs are out…. Ralph Coates a man with a Shredded Wheat hair-do he appears to dye a curious orange…” It’s a fabulous chapter, and Aizlewood let me put it in No Nay Never Volume One. He visited Chesterfield that season, ‘where lower league footballers are not even household names in their own households’. Burney were there that day and Chesterfield won 1 – 0. At the final whistle “Chris Waddle shrugs his shoulders, folds his arms and lumbers towards the tunnel alone.” Chesterfield fans chanted at him, “You’re s**t and you know you are.” I was absent from most Burnley games during that era, but I’m told than Burnley fans chanted much the same.
A late kick off at 5 15 for TV, the BBC no less, not a full house by any means, a poor turnout from Preston, the buzz of a derby, even if it was only Preston; after two weeks off all of us ready for a game; outside the ground the sounds of a brass band playing – nice. And once the game started even the delight of an early 1 – 0 lead to give the supporters chance to exercise their lungs.
But then Laws did what he should have started with, Eagles and Cork were brought on, Edgar replaced at right back, at last the flair players on and the game changed. Another crass ref decision came when Corks header was handled in the area and ignored. But then this became the game with everything; a red card for Preston that let Burnley back in, there had already been a mass brawl, an Iwelumo hat-trick, an immense display throughout from Bikey, superb impact from the three subs, wild crowd scenes, Preston supporters in tears (silly sods), Burnley fans in tears of joy (quite right), aggro and abuse between the PNE goalie and a dozen Burnley numpties, a turnaround so dramatic as to warrant as many superlatives as you can think of – but masking what was up until then another iffy performance with the ball given away over and again, with few forays into the Preston box, and then post-match trouble in the town centre after the game. Phew
Preston manager Ferguson was incredulous at the sending off, a second yellow card for time wasting, yet another of the referee’s questionable decisions, but gratefully accepted thankyou very much. Perhaps it made up for the decisions that went against Burnley at Deepdale in the promotion season. Memo to Preston supporters - you win some you lose some but it’s one of the rules of this derby – it will always be a dodgy ref.
10 points from 15, three home wins, 5th in the table – but chants of “Brian Laws’ Claret and Blue Army” conspicuous by their absence; and on the websites it’s clear to see the jury is still out on the manager.
So: QPR top, Burnley fifth and Portsmouth bottom after game 5; in the Premiership Blackpool on course for Europe and in Division One, Rochdale on course for the Championship and Southampton on course for oblivion.
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