What a Difference a Win Makes
I bought Paul Lake’s book I’m Not Really Here and it has to be one of the best football books I’ve read. I had a lump in my throat by the end.
Paul Lake was a wonderfully talented young player at Manchester City until injury finished his career. The book is about the harrowing time he had, the neglect, the poor treatment he received from City and the slow descent into depression when he knew it was all over. Books about footballers and depression are not uncommon but it was how this book ended that had me with a lump in my throat as he found a new career and re-established his life. It was truly moving and must surely be a contender for the William Hill book of the year award. There’s the added bonus of several pages about his time at Burnley as physio when Stan Ternent was manager and this includes the Paul Lake version of the healthy nutrition versus Full English breakfast story that Stan wrote about.
The reason I bought it was because injuries played such a significant part in Roger Eli’s career and there’s a big focus this season on what happened 20 years ago at BFC. It’s a big part of Roger’s story. Paul Lake wrote this without a ghostwriter so it’s all first hand from the heart. But whilst Lake spent years on the sidelines, Roger spent just 4 months early in 1993, although before that he had several shorter spells on the sidelines. Roger regained fitness but neverthess it was a period that changed his career. He simply fell off Jimmy Mullen’s radar and then left in ’94. Both players have legitimate grumbles about the ineffectiveness of the treatment and advice they received and the operations they undertook, and both can relate to the way in which an injured player can experience a huge range of emotions, especially feelings of anger and despair.
Clips of the Barnet game showed that the end of game equaliser came from a free kick that wasn’t. Marney made contact with the ball. But the player went down and the referee blew. It was the faintest of touches and I suppose you can understand a referee blowing for that one. Did he think that it was a tackle from behind maybe? But what it did show was that referees’ decisions change games and decide results.
A recent study of over 700 key Premiership decisions from last season and with the benefit of replays and hindsight, concluded that a third of the decisions were wrong. These were decisions that related to penalties, or free kicks that lead to goals and so on. If every decision had been correct then Arsenal would have been second, and Blackpool would not have been relegated. Imagine the free kick given against Marney being in a league game and Burnley losing 2 points as a result. We would not have been too pleased. Mind you, I think back to Wembley 2009 and it’s difficult to forget that Burnley could have had 2 penalties awarded against them. Every time I see the replays I think how lucky was that? With a different referee it could have been Sheffield United that won the jackpot. They didn’t – and look where they are now. Thanks ref.
It sounded to be mostly Burnley in the first half. Austin hit the post. McCann had his legs whipped away. Where was the penalty, demanded the Bird/Bentley duo. Mrs T calls them Batman and Robin. Second half and Austin did score. From that point on Derby picked up the pace putting Burnley under the cosh. Derby hit the post. Burnley hit the post again. Phil Bird’s voice rose three octaves. Mostly Derby after that and the equaliser inevitably came with Burnley fading, falling asleep to concede the goal from a throw-in.
It seemed a long week leading up to the Derby game. I suspect all of us sat and waited for news of new signings especially as Duff became the latest injury problem. We wondered who would take over – Edgar, Amougou or Cort. The Cort situation is a mystery. Just what has the guy done (or not done) to slip off the radar completely since pre-season. But there were no new signings to fill the gaps. Someone worked out that if results went badly then Burnley could actually finish bottom by the end of the day.
Oh dear, it was me and Mrs T told me to stop being so miserable. I followed it up with the info that it’s 16 or 17 games since a clean sheet, and I was losing count.
But the prospect of bottom place, even this early in the season, was not a happy one. The websites and messageboards had already been going into meltdown. There was however no big response to the agents’ fees information that appeared. Burnley paid something under half a million. So another bit of the ‘where has all the money gone’ jigsaw was slotted into place along with the cost of Gawthorpe developments and a Turf Moor gymnasium revamp.
Rumours and stories regarding Rodriguez continued to appear. Some were old ones that Sky re-cycled to fill a few empty spaces. But on the Derby morning the newest one was that indeed a deal had been struck and that Jay Rod would not play in the game. Rodriguez played. Another rumour swiftly put to bed. Jensen was back in place of Grant. Edgar replaced the injured Duff. Elliot who played splendidly against Barnet was back on the bench. McCann started.
Jeez what a game, end to end stuff, blood and thunder,Burnley rocking, under pressure but then a long ball from Edgar finds Rodriguez and eventually Austin again fires home with Bird/Bentley raising the decibel level. The speakers nearly fell off the shelf. “What a save from Jensen,” Phil Bird exclaimed next as Derby poured forward again. “He’s a predator,” Bird described Austin after he’d pounced on the ball following Wallace’s stinging shot that the goalkeeper couldn’t hold.
The last frantic 10 minutes was a procession of bangs, bumps, oohs, ahs, bodies falling, players down, aggravated Derby players, an irate crowd and then an astonishing 7 minutes of extra time with Bird/Bentley amazed having guessed at 4. The seconds ticked away, me on edge of seat, following Burnley is never easy, the first win so close, Amougou on to stiffen things up. Rodriguez set Austin up for his hat-trick but he blazed over.
“Tense stuff at Pride Park,” says our man Phil. “Hacked away by Edgar.” Derby corner, minutes to go, Rodriguez races away with the ball, out to the corner flag to eat up a few seconds. The seventh minute of extra time, Derby pressing, Burnley challenging and suddenly Marney is clear to seal it but hits the ball against the keeper’s legs. Loud groans. Referee Haines finds yet more extra time. Batman and Robin incensed. “Where’s this time coming from?” they implore.
And at Last the FINAL WHISTLE. God that was nervous and full marks to the Dynamic Duo for a fantastic commentary that really got across all the anxiety, stress, the strain and increased blood pressure. The old guy who after the Barnet game said Derby will get 6 against this lot was probably thinking what a few of us thought at the time. But football is a funny old game and so unpredictable. Full marks as well to the Racing Post Football League expert who reckoned that the best bet of the day was a Burnley win. He reasoned that most goals conceded so far had been down to individual errors not bad tactics and that the Burnley defence was not as bad as statistics suggested. The guy obviously knows his stuff.
The messageboard mood (and mine) was transformed… how quickly the mood changes on here, doom gloom and then we win… a brilliant win today… every bit of me is smiling inside… an amazing win today… today was the REAL Burnley… thought Edgar was fantastic… we CAN actually play well and win… a superb performance and display… time to dance round the room…
Edgar, Treacy and Austin took the plaudits with praise showering down on Edgar in particular. Jensen was assured and made some great saves. Austin begins to remind us of more and more of Andy Payton with every game that goes by. But all of them deserved Brownie points for the win against the team who at the start had won all four of their games. Derby reactions ranged from saying it was well-deserved win to calling Burnley time-wasting cheats (well done lads). At the start nobody could have been criticised for saying this was a home banker. But this was a day when Burnley surprised us all.
24 goal-attempts and hit the woodwork twice. And hey, three points off the play-offs with a game in hand. The world looked a better place at 5 o clock on Saturday the23rd. “Let’s go to Peterborough,” said Mrs T. How could I say no? It’s an excuse to eat piles of bacon sandwiches on the journey down.
It must be hell being a Man City fan. Just when you assemble a team of galacticos; just when you think it’s safe to say we’re the best team in Manchester; just when you have a stunning result in London and beat Spurs 5 – 1 (‘Appy ‘Arry blaming it all on Modric); just when you’ve gone top of the League; just when you think you can really crow at your nearest rivals – what do the Reds go and do? They upstage you only a couple of hours later again by beating Arsenal 8 – 2 and go top on goal difference. Life can be so unfair sometimes.
It was noted, whilst we played Derby, that Barnsley’s Danny Haynes was on the bench and was linked to us. I noticed in the City game Tevez was on the bench… therefore… ipso facto… no…surely not I thought. Wow.
Quote of the week, from BigDave’s review of the Sunday papers: Mancini wants to add Ray Wilkins to his backroom staff. I’m all for that. Anything that keeps him off the telly must be a good thing.
Amen to that.