The story of a Burnley fan … Part 1
One day in the summer of 1974 I was hanging around on a street corner with my friends, discussing whether David Essex was more fanciable than Les from Mud, as you do, when my dad came out of the house and shouted me over.
I thought bloody hell, what have I done now.
Look, he said. I’ve got you a season ticket to come and see Burnley with me. I was gobsmacked. What the hell gave him the idea I would want to do that?
I was devastated that dad hadn’t even asked me. I mean, I DID THINGS on a Saturday afternoon. I went into town and hung around the Wimpy bar in Burnley town centre; walked up and down streets; sat in friends’ bedrooms; drank coffee; giggled about boys; avoided homework; watched Play Away.
Why on earth would I want to go to football matches? My life was full. It didn’t need football. I wasn’t interested.
So my season ticket remained untouched until September 14 1974 when I decided to go. After all, Burnley were playing the champions Leeds United. If my memory serves me right I think Ted Heath the prime minister was there opening the new Bob Lord stand. If I was ever going to go that was the day. Besides, dad had been pursuading me.
Isn’t it funny how snap decisions can change the template of your life; can take you in a direction as straight as a Roman road for years and years.
Dad had supported Burnley all his life; born in the town, he’d moved away as a young boy but would cycle over from Sheffield to watch matches. He’d lived in Nottingham and the North East but would still travel to the games whenever he could.
I’ve even created an urban myth around my own existence, which is that dad had a twinkle in his eye when it was pretty apparent that Burnley would win the league in 1960. A fellow Burnley fan and journalist colleague is just a few weeks older than me. A couple of years ago we spent a Saturday afternoon drunk-texting each other to work out which Burnley victory early in 1960 our respective fathers had decided to celebrate. We concluded it may have been a Bolton game. That theory is absolute bollocks, if you pardon the pun, but it amuses me.
I was born in the North East and can remember having a claret and blue teddy bear but at the time I didn’t know why. Dad had begun to work for Burnley Football Club and had to travel down to Lancashire regularly. Eventually we moved from the north east to Burnley, at the behest of the infamous Bob Lord, so dad would be nearer to work.
Dad was even friends with club hero Harry Potts and I remember being taken to Harry Potts’ mum’s house for tea and cake more than once.
But despite dad’s strong connection with the Clarets, I had not been interested in supporting them.
That is, until September 14 1974. I walked up some steps inside the Cricket Field Stand at Turf Moor and for the first time had that magical moment … which still happens … of seeing a football pitch rise into view in front of me, green as an emerald, as expectant as the buzz around me.
I was hooked. And the game hadn’t even kicked off.
To be continued …
(This post has also appeared on the Burnley fans’ forum No Nay Never)