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europa aberdeen homeI’m not sure when this all started, when Burnley fans first got the idea that we might actually finish as high as seventh which would potentially bring with it a place in the Europa League qualifiers.

The We’re All Going on a European Tour singing had certainly been going on for a while but I think it was the day at Watford when Jack Cork headed our winner just as eighth place Leicester were being beaten at home by Newcastle when I first gained some real belief that we might make it, and one week later that home win against Leicester saw us go nine points clear with five games to go. It was all but done and finally, here we are, on the verge of a first game in European competition in 52 seasons.

The last game in the Fairs Cup was the disappointing home defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt. Yesterday I took a look at our line up for that game and sadly five of the players who took part are no longer with us. I don’t think many of us there that night could have thought it would take this long for the next game but we are finally there and ready for our trip to Aberdeen.

There might have been a tinge of disappointment when the draw was made. That was not a reflection on Aberdeen at all but more that we weren’t getting a trip to some far flung place in Europe. But it is a good draw in that it has made it more accessible for our fans and over 2,000 will be able to get into Pittodrie tomorrow night to see the game whilst many others will be at the fanzone at Turf Moor watching it on a big screen.

Tomorrow will be a very special night for me. Sean Dyche would call it a marker and that’s exactly what it is, another one to chalk off of what I’ve been able to see watching Burnley. I’ve seen us play in the European Cup and then in the Fairs Cup six years later, but only the home games.

I know we older fans get accused so often of reminiscing about the good days of the sixties and also of the dire straits we were in during the 1980s. It means, over the years, I’ve seen us at the top of the league and also down at the bottom. It’s been good and it’s been bad and I’ve never wavered or threatened to walk away because Burnley Football Club means far too much to me to even contemplate it.

Supporting a football team though is all about wanting them to be as good as they can possibly be and wanting them to achieve more and more. I’d have given anything on the morning of 9th May 1987 to ensure league football in the following season while since it has all been about setting new targets. They’ve been set, reached and achieved over those years. There’s winning promotion from the fourth division, winning at Wembley, reaching the second tier and staying there and then, finally, or so I thought, making it to the Premier League.

We’ve gone on to survive two seasons, the last of them with so much comfort we didn’t even bother dropping out of the top eight for most of the season and hardly the top seven in the last five months of it.

That season has brought what comes next and tomorrow night sees us step onto the European stage. Once pioneers, the third English team to play in the European Cup, I’m sure I’m not the only Burnley fan pinching myself at what we are about to witness.

Seven English teams can take part in European competition each year. Yes, just seven, and with the top six claiming all but one of those places it shows just what an achievement this is.

I’ll be emotional tomorrow night, make no mistake about that, and will be so proud to be among over 2,000 other Clarets seeing my team play away from home in Europe. I hope we can have a cup run, the further we can go in the competition, the better it will be.

Is this the icing on the cake? Who knows with our manager and our team, things could still get even better. I’ve always been so proud to be a Burnley supporter, good times and bad. These really are times to savour.

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