Nick Hornby, author of the excellent, “Fever Pitch,” once said that most football fans, spend their lives, win or lose, in a state of terminal disappointment and there are times when it would be difficult to disagree with him.
Supporting your team is rather like marriage in many ways. You’ve got to ride the ups and downs.
For many Burnley supporters the choice of partner was decided for them on the day they were born. Not for them the luxury of choosing a bride from the top four of the Premiership with a wedding day destined to appear in a celebrity magazine, full of sound and fury, signifying very little.
There are Clarets who choose to become so and there’s nothing wrong with that, the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned but a lot of us were born to it.
Born or not, Burnley supporters, once in it, are generally in it for life. If you don’t understand that, then you don’t understand what it means to be a Claret.
There’s a saying in Bolivia, “Si no los sientes, no los entiendes,” which translates as, “If you don’t feel it, you won’t understand it.”
We moan about its constraints, though and my goodness, CAN WE MOAN. I’ve often thought that the words on the Burnley crest should be changed to, “It won’t bloody last.” A phrase I first heard in the early 60’s when things were going REALLY WELL .
Stan Ternent, an ex-Burnley manager was quoted as saying, “They are not happy at Burnley unless they’re moaning. You could win five nil and they still wouldn’t be happy. They’re good folk but they’ll moan about owt.”
Mind you, Stan could moan, too.
I remember one miserable night when we lost 6-5 at Grimsby. My lad had suggested to me that I subscribe to what was then a newfangled service on my mobile phone where I could receive a text every time a goal was scored. I said, “ It’s 10 pence a text!” He replied, “Dad, you’re a Burnley supporter how much is it going to cost you?” Well, it cost me £1.10 that night and the result caused Stan to thunder, “Since when did you score five goals away from home and lose?”
There was a time, pre-mobiles, that we got messages on pagers. Alistair Campbell claimed that the only time he turned his off was when he was watching Burnley.
For me, match day often means being glued to the computer and ClaretsPlayer, listening to the excellent Phil Bird and his co-commentators. Over the years, Phil has turned into a fine match reporter. Phil Bird or Jim Beglin? A no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. I have to say, it’s not in Phil’s nature to moan but he does a fine line in Claret and Blue concern.
“Burnley are going to have some defending to do.” This invariably uttered when the opposition are just clearing their 6-yard box. My paranoid concern matches Phil’s and I’ve suffered along with him through many a match day, win or lose. ClaretsPlayer is a godsend to those of us who are unable to be on the hallowed Turf as much as we would like and it’s worth saying that I’d still subscribe to it even if I lived within a bicycle ride of Harry Pott’s Way.
When one can sit in a hotel room in North Carolina, as I’ve done, and listen to a match at Turf Moor there is very little to be said against it. Better than a Sunday morning in New York in the 70’s ( pre-mobiles ) when I finally managed to find the scores in a foot thick New York Times to read, “Burnley 1 Preston 12”, and prayed that it was at least a draw. By lunchtime I was thinking that I wouldn’t even mind losing 2-1, the alternative being too horrific to contemplate.
Listening on ClaretsPlayer, however, is not for those of a weak disposition when, as against Norwich, we yet again fail to see out a game away from home. When a first half of inspired Clarets domination sees us with our back to the wall, conceding an equalising goal in the second minute of extra time after been 2-0 up.
It’s at times like that when one hates this game and Claret fans have every right to moan. But there’s much to be proud of, even if our away record leaves more than a little bit to be desired.
Just remember, “It won’t bloody last.”