Back in the Premier League after a brilliant day
Burnley are back in the Premier League after a 1-0 win yesterday against QPR ensured a top two finish at least. It followed Middlesbrough’s draw last Friday and a similar result for Brighton just before we kicked off.
In a tense affair it was Sam Vokes who won it for us just past the hour and if I could have chosen anyone to scored the all important goal then it would surely have been Sam given how he was robbed of the run in two years ago after suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury in the home game against Leicester.
What a day it was. It had everything from calm, tension, early excitement and ended with delirium and sheer delight that once more we’ll be seeing Premier League football at Turf Moor.
What a day to do it – the 2nd day of May. It’s a mixed day for me now. It was 56 years ago that our team went to Maine Road and came home as Champions of England and there was a real reminder of that fantastic achievement ahead of kick off with the very same trophy on display on the touchline with the Sky team.
It was also the date I lost my mum twelve years ago. It was my dad who took me to football and I know he’d have been absolutely thrilled to bits with this current team. My mum had little interest in football other than having to contend with a fanatical Claret of a husband and then giving birth to two more. I know she’d have been so pleased too.
The day all started for me around 7:30 a.m. I made sure I took my blood pressure medication just in case but, in truth, I was ridiculously calm. I took a couple of phone calls from fellow Clarets and received a lot of texts wishing us luck. I sorted out the First Goal Sweep, which wasn’t won, had breakfast and settled down to watch Fleetwood give Blackpool a chance of staying up.
By then it was time to leave and I heard the familiar tones of Steve Cotterill on the television before making my way to the Turf. Brighton were, by then, playing but so what. I was more concerned with our game and tried to put what was going on down at the Amex to one side. That was until Andreas Weimann gave Derby the lead. That led to us making our way round to the fanzone to watch the rest of that game on the big screen, not as though I was watching much of it.
Brighton equalised in stoppage time but that goal counted for little really. It still left them needing us to collapse or go to Middlesbrough and win, just as would have been the case had they lost.
I’m not one for fanzones personally but there is no doubt that it is popular and a great addition to match day at Turf Moor. I think it, maybe, needs a little bit more organising to help with access for people trying to get past but that’s no more than a bit of nit picking.
I’m not sure what the Brighton result did for us to be honest. Had they won I reckon we’d have gone out and played with more freedom, but the players were ready to come out on the back of that news knowing that a win would return our club to the Premier League. That in itself brought a more nervous atmosphere both on and off the pitch.
We’d made one change. Dean Marney hadn’t made it so the trusted left foot of David Jones was back in the starting eleven with his place on the bench taken by Rouwen Hennings who was probably still reeling from my German last Tuesday at the player of the year evening.
I’m not really sure what I can write about the first half. We really did look nervy and rarely threatened to make the breakthrough. And there were problems at the other end of for us and more than once I feared we might go a goal behind.
No mention of the first half could be complete without reference to the other German striker involved yesterday, QPR’s Sebastian Polter. He got an early yellow card, but quite how he stayed on the pitch for his lunge at Joey Barton only the Premier League’s worst referee Jon Moss will know. And how he didn’t collect another yellow, even to the point of Moss having to speak to his captain about him, was ridiculous. One year to the day since Moss sent off Michael Duff at West Ham too.
Maybe it was a good thing. Playing against ten for virtually the whole game might have made things even more difficult.
They did force Tom Heaton into a number of saves but I think we’d have been disappointed had he not saved them. They certainly didn’t make the most of their opportunities, that’s for sure but, of concern, there was little from us to calm the nerves.
My learned friend to the right reassured me at half time that all would be OK. He felt QPR would struggle against us with us playing with the wind, which had caused havoc at times, in the second half attacking the Jimmy Mac End.
It hadn’t been the best half of football I had seen this season but the best was still to come. Not much over an hour later and the roof was coming off our ground.
We did look better in the second half. Sean Dyche must have had a quiet word with them. Scott Arfield was just off target with an effort early in the half and Andre Gray having done so well to get past his man shot wide from a tight angle. There was an almighty scramble too that QPR were thankful to hack away.
We still weren’t at our best but the whole day changed with just over an hour gone when we won a free kick on the right of the QPR box. Did I mention that trusted left foot of David Jones? His ball into the box was perfect as was Vokes’ move across the defender to the corner of the six yard box from where he steered his header into the far corner.
Those in the Bob Lord would have had the best view. They would have known immediately it was going in. For us in the Longside the moment came when the ball hit the net. As one we rose, as one we roared, as one we celebrated.
The last half hour certainly wasn’t without its scares and QPR were so close to levelling when Alejandro Faurlin crashed a shot against the woodwork, but Burnley were even closer to a second soon after.
George Boyd, in such good form again, ended some great work on the right with a ball in. Matt Lowton, another to really impress, continued it, there was a shout for handball but in the end we got a corner when goalkeeper Matt Ingram managed to get a boot a goal bound Arfield shot.
Jones, he of the trusted left foot, took the corner and Vokes headed home. The whistle had already gone but for what no one, other than Moss, can be quite sure. Another goal then, with around ten minutes to go, would have helped those who were getting somewhat edgy.
In truth, other than the one against the woodwork, QPR didn’t really threaten too much. We’d done what we are good at, what we’ve been doing now for months, seeing games out and winning.
Three extra minutes went up on the board. As it went up so did the roar around the ground and the noise volumes went higher and higher as the clock ticked towards that three minutes. It went into uproar when the final whistle blew. Fans poured onto the pitch in what Sky co-commentator David Prutton described as a real show of emotion.
Players were trapped in the crowd but seemed to have no concerns over it. Long after some had reached the dressing room I could see the beaming smiles form Stephen Ward and Joey Barton.
“E-I-E-I-E-I-O, up the Football League we go” – that had been sung all day but now it was “We are Premier League.”
The pitch finally cleared, the manager walked round to take the applause of a still packed Turf Moor. Joined by his kids he was absolutely loving it. The players followed too. Michael Keane was dancing with delight having been relieved of baby sitting duties this year by George Boyd, while Gray and Vokes joined in with their own song.
Yes, it really was fitting that he got the winner. Two years ago, with Danny Ings, he had to do that on crutches. This time he did it having scored the goal that took our great club back into the Premier League.
Messages of congratulations poured in. They came from former Clarets Ings, Kieran Trippier, Steven Caldwell, the first captain to take us into the Premier League, Robbie Blake, the little magician, and Marc Pugh who has enjoyed a season up there himself with Bournemouth.
Everyone’s favourite cricket commentator Bumble sent his congratulations too and some were received from other clubs, including Chorley, Manchester City and, with great credit, from Brighton.
The next time Turf Moor opens its gates for a football match we will be a Premier League club.
Savour it fellow Clarets, it’s special, it’s very, very special.
COME ON YOU CLARETS
And I’ll see you at Charlton as we go for the title.
The teams were;
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray (Ashley Barnes 76). Subs not used: Paul Robinson, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski, Matt Taylor, Lloyd Dyer, Rouwen Hennings.
QPR: Matt Ingram, Nedum Onuoha, Clint Hill, Grant Hall, Cole Kpekawa, Karl Henry, Alejandro Faurlin, Junior Hoilett (Conor Washington 63), Michael Petrasso (Abdenasser El Khayati 70), Matt Phillips, Sebastian Polter (Ben Gladwin 71). Subs not used: Joe Lumley, James Perch, Axel Prohouly, Reece Grego-Cox.
Yellow Cards: Sebastian Polter, Cole Kpekawa.
Referee: Jon Moss (Horsforth).
Attendance: 19,362 (including 236 from QPR).
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