Sleeping easier in our beds
Chuck Berry was 90. A Good Housekeeping survey says the best mince pies and the best Christmas turkeys are from Iceland. Theresa May cracked a risqué joke in PM Question Time. Who will exit Emmerdale after the spectacular pile-up the nation asked? And at Southampton Burnley had run 113 miles.
Of all the stats that were churned out after the Southampton game that was the one that stood out. Burnley had run 113 miles and had in fact covered more miles than Southampton. But with their running Southampton had accumulated 34 shots. Burnley had just 6. It made you think. In the penalty area Saints had 46 touches, Burnley just 12. Exactly where were Burnley running to?
You wondered just how a side could run so much and do so little and it certainly wasn’t the running that had kept the score down to something respectable, it was Tom Heaton’s goalkeeping. The media raved about it the day after; the save from Austin’s fifth minute header was miraculous.
’34 attempts an astonishing figure,’ said Henry Winter. ‘The outstanding Tom Heaton prevented a complete rout.’
‘Embarrassing but for Tom Heaton,’ said another report.
‘A poor Burnley side,’ said the Express, although most papers wrote of how good Southampton were rather than being critical of Burnley.
Much was made again of the Boyd stats. He’s run the furthest this season of all Prem players. He’s made more sprints than anyone; fair play to him; but what’s the good of that in any player without pace and an end product? It’s as if his role now is one of damage limitation and it’s a negative role. Without Gray in the side and Darikwa not even on the bench, there was absolutely no pace anywhere.
Totally outplayed but Dyche was right to highlight the blatant penalty that Burnley should have been awarded. One photo showed Van Dijk’s leg clearly wrapped round Gudmundsson’s. It always sounds like sour grapes or clutching at straws when managers of any side talk of refereeing errors and penalties. But this one of Dean’s was bad, utterly bad and if there are moments that affect games, this was one of them with bells on.
Mention the name Everton and a whole bunch of memories come flooding back. They are a team that dates back to childhood and Uncle Arthur, a staunch Evertonian. Arthur had trials there and might well have made it but along came the war and that ended that. We often visited Newton le Willows, where they lived, regularly trundling down the East Lancs Road in an ancient Morris Ten, three gears, boneshaking and no heating. Further up the road lived another aunt and uncle, George and Mary, but George was a Geordie and another decent footballer.
Arthur used to give me all his Everton programmes and occasionally took me to a game; there’s a hazy memory of a game against Arsenal sometime in the 50s and the name Joe Haverty springs to mind, a pint sized winger for Arsenal, he was only 5’ 3”, whom the crowd barracked mercilessly because he had such a stinker that day. I can picture the Everton toffee lady who used to come round with a basket and lob sweets into the crowd. Today in our cotton wool world, it would be a health and safety risk. It was a time when wingers were expected to dribble past a man, get round them and cross the ball. Fine when it worked but when it didn’t and the winger looked useless he soon became the target for abuse and catcalls.
A game in the 70s at Goodison was only memorable because Keith Newton gave away a penalty when he raised his arms to protect his face when a vicious shot or cross, I can’t remember, was heading straight for his head. I thought of that when the Arsenal goal was allowed to stand the other week. Koscielny raised his arms to protect his face but that was OK the referee decided, assuming he even saw it.
But the game that made the biggest impression was at Christmas 1960, December 27. Burnley had lost the Boxing Day game at Turf Moor 3-1 in front of a 44,000 crowd. Ray Pointer got the Burnley goal. It was the team of Billy Bingham, Jimmy Gabriel, Bobby Collins and Roy Vernon. The next day we went to the return game and were part of a staggering 78,000 crowd. I don’t think I saw a thing from where we were behind one of the goals and Burnley won an improbable victory playing with a virtual 10-man team after Pointer (I think) shuffled about after an injury. Jimmy Robson scored twice and John Connelly in a 3-0 win that silenced the scousers when they had all turned up assuming this would be a win.
Over the years there have generally been good relations between the clubs although this was punctuated when Willie Irvine had his leg broken there in an FA Cup game; Bob Lord went mad in the boardroom afterwards and was asked to leave. As far as he was concerned Irvine had been deliberately crocked by Johnny Morrissey, a view that Irvine himself has always maintained. Afterwards Everton manager Harry Catterick pronounced that it was Irvine’s own fault, he’d been asking for it. Maybe that was what incensed Bob Lord. Hurt one of his players and the irascible old growler was instantly up in arms.
Tommy Lawton, Martin Dobson, Dave Thomas, Geoff Nulty and Trevor Steven all ended up at Everton although Dave Thomas went via QPR. Former director Derek Gill remembers the sale of Steven well. John Bond tried to take credit for a £25,000 add-on if Steven played for England, but it was all done and dusted before his arrival and the fee of £300,000 agreed plus the add-on was a Derek Gill initiative. Everton were a pleasure to deal with, he added.
At the beginning of the Bond season the club, largely due to the work of Derek Gill, was comfortably in the black, and that was even before the Trevor Steven sale. By the start of the next season, the sacking of Bond, the appointment of John Benson, the dwindling crowd, money evaporating; the place was in turmoil and discontented supporters were asking serious questions. It lead up to a very nice Derek Gill pie story which he called A Shortage of Pies is No New Thing.
‘P for Plymouth day arrived and we set off with five players making their debuts and the ground in a most unusually subdued state. Having once told the local press that I would never feed them a bad line I went back on this undertaking on a little matter which seemed harmless at the time but had its amusing consequences. Like my own boys, John Jackson’s son preferred to watch the matches with the real supporters and in his case he enjoyed standing behind the goals where one of the delights was to indulge in a half-time pie.
Amongst the more important issues discussed at board meetings was the seriousness of the pies being either cold or even unavailable on some occasions. Nobody dreamed that this was a matter of interest to the press but we were actually aware there would be more than a passing interest in the size of the crowd after all the sensational publicity we had attracted during the week (the sacking of Bond). Clever sods that we were, or rather I, with the chairman’s connivance, decided that the miserable gate we expected would fuel the discontent still further.
As if to prove we did not get everything wrong, the gate on a perfect day was a derisory 4,644.
Aghast at how low this was it was decided to add an extra 2,000 and to report the gate to the press as 6,644. Now: as luck would have it pies were short that day and John’s lad and Derek’s lad were unable to obtain their half-time treat. Such was the dire game; a pie would have been the undoubted highlight. Afterwards, on learning that pies had run short the chairman duly spoke to the catering manager to let him know in no uncertain terms that every penny was vital at the club and to enquire as to why there were so few pies and why had they run out. We may presume the poor bloke was told in no uncertain terms to buck his ideas up. But: the catering manager looked at him for a moment, thought, and then slowly explained that the gate of 6,644 was more than they had expected and would be the reason why the shortage of pies had occurred. Game, set and match to the catering manager.
Somewhere in this there must be a moral, wrote Derek.
Everton, one of those clubs a bit like Fulham, they’re just kind of there drifting along, nothing to really dislike, nothing objectionable, they don’t upset anyone, trophies few and far between in recent years, had gone four games without a win. Burnley, we felt, could surely not be as poor as they had been at Southampton. There was therefore that slight frisson of anticipation that maybe we could get something from this game. The last time they had been to the Turf it was Samuel Eto’o that gave a strikers masterclass of such brilliance you could only applaud and then with supreme irony that was pretty much the last time anyone heard of him again.
Matchday: beautiful autumn day with the sun shining on the ground, trees changing colour, a beautiful drive across the moors from Hebden Bridge; a drive that’s usually beneath drab skies or even in low misty cloud but this time the landscape at its best with views for miles.
There was no Boyd as well as Defour. The running stats would be slightly down then we agreed. But this time the running paid off and Burnley ‘did a job’ on Everton as they had done with the other car-minders from the city. Uncle Arthur, an honorary scouser, always said that the worst thing that ever happened in Liverpool was the invention of the locking wheel nut.
Everton and certainly Koemans might have argued that this time it was Burnley guilty of nicking stuff when they walked off at the end of the game with all three points. We knew the feeling; Arsenal did it to us a few weeks ago. Koemans said that football isn’t fair; but it remains a simple game, it ain’t rocket science, the team that scores the goals wins and Burnley’s 90th minute winner certainly surprised and stunned us as much as it deflated anybody connected with Everton. And the nice thing was it was such a corker of a goal. Gudmundsson smote a terrific shot from distance against the bar; the bar was still twanging when it rebounded to Arfield maybe 12 yards away and he gleefully hit it home. Not the easiest of shots either coming to him on the half volley at just a slightly awkward height, enough to make it less than straightforward to control and hit cleanly. Arfield set off on his celebratory run at Olympic speed, but this time only to the halfway line to be buried beneath a pile of ecstatic claret bodies, one of them Flanagan doubly delighted no doubt from the other side of Stanley Park.
If improbable, unexpected, surprising, perhaps nevertheless it wasn’t quite astonishing because this is a Burnley side that we knew from the Liverpool game could provide this kind of result. They can be over-run, out-thought, outplayed even, but can still find a way to win. And it was exactly that kind of game when artisans can beat artistes.
Everton were slick, quick, filled with forward movement and panache. ‘Pleasing on the eye,’ as a former manager once said whose side now lies once again in the bottom three of the championship. For clear spells waves of attacks bore down on the Burnley defence, they could have been 2-0 up very early, but Tom Heaton was providing another goalkeeping masterclass. It was to everyone’s surprise when Burnley then took a first half lead following a delightful sequence of passes out of their own half, a fabulously clever subtle layoff, the ball caressed with finesse by the Icelander, a run at pace from Arfield suddenly in oodles of space, a shot on the run, a slight defection, a goalkeeper save and then a VOKES POKE, a superb bit of poaching and opportunism.
Everton equalised early in the second half, of that we will say little, better to say what was good about Burnley. At first we groaned, perish the thought but I did wonder at that point would we ever win again as Everton continued to pour forward. But Mee was outstanding, Keane was getting the plaudits but Mee was again the unsung hero along with Ward at full-back. Lukaku was more Lukakwho.
Another save by Heaton, a tip-over from Bolasie’s 20-yarder, was another worldy; Bolasie cost them £20million. For that we could build a new Cricket Field Stand, on two other occasions Everton just a whisker from scoring. We willed the time away to hang onto the point, a point that would have seemed a bonus at that time, but then out of nothing, came triumph. Gudmundsson struck, the bar quaked, Arfield lurked, and that was that, the ball nestled; the earth shook. This was Custer’s Last Stand but with a happy ending.
Piggy in the Middle at the Hare and Hounds Todmorden on the way home, that’s a burger with cheese and tomatoes and a thick layer of pulled pork, oh and chips, recommended. At home a couple of recorded episodes of Victoria, that’s Downton with crowns on; then a few compliments on MOTD. What’s better than a day when you win?
Incredulous might be a slight exaggeration but elation certainly reigned supreme, Burnley were up and running again – and knew where they were running. And more good news from the channel as well; the Russian fleet did indeed sail through but it seems that their giant carrier is just a rust bucket with loos that don’t flush, prone to breakdowns and was accompanied by a tow-ship just in case. Ten points nestled in the bank, just ten points behind the leaders, and not even the end of October. We could all sleep a little easier in our beds.Share this page :