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“I read the news today, oh boy. 4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire.” That was a line from the Beatles song A Day In the Life, the final song on their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album which was released in May 1967.

Apparently the holes were rather small, they had to count them all after which they knew how many holes it took to fill the Albert Hall. Goodness knows what that was about. It’s believed the number of holes referred to the pot holes on the Blackburn roads at the time but I’m not at all sure how you would get any of them into the Albert Hall.

Never mind that, never mind the Beatles other than to report that we’d just ended the 1966/67 season in 14th place in the First Division when it was released; our local rivals, having been relegated in the previous season, missed out on a return to the top flight by eight points. The last time we had met, we’d won 2-0 at Ewood Park on New Year’s Day in the previous year with goals scored by Gordon Harris and Willie Irvine.

We met them occasionally over the next forty-odd years but not in the top flight again until the 2009/10 season. I don’t particularly wish to dwell on the two games we played against them in that season but there has to be a mention of the second of them, a 1-0 home defeat when we were cheated out of a result because Martin Olsson took a dive and conned referee Mike Dean into awarding them a penalty from which David Dunn scored the only goal of the game.

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In today’s world of VAR, there would have been no penalty and the cheating Olsson would have won himself a yellow card for simulation. Sam Allardyce thought Brian Jensen should have been sent off but Olsson was embarrassing his manager by suggesting he had encouraged them to try it on to see if they could get a spot kick. Burnley boss Brian Laws was on this occasion alongside the Burnley supporters. “Olsson’s  took a dive, he’s conned the referee, the referee’s not in a great position and he’s given the penalty which was very harsh and left us with a mountain to climb.”

We weren’t able to climb that mountain and you might wonder why I’ve chosen to write about it. There is one big reason. The game was played on 28th March 2010 and they have not beaten us since. Did you know that 28th March 2010 was 4,000 days ago? Yes, it’s 4,000 days since Blackburn, Lancashire beat us. No rather small holes, no Albert Hall, but 4,000 days and counting since they were last able to record a victory against us.

What’s happened since? They eventually dropped out of the Premier League in 2012, they even had an Owen Coyle inspired relegation into League One while we are now enjoying our fifth successive season at English football’s top table.

We’ve played them seven times in this 4,000 day period, drawing the first three

 

and then winning four on the trot, the last of them so easy for us that their manager Tony Mowbray remarked on how far ahead of them we are.

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Some would say we were a little fortunate in the first of those seven games. We trailed 1-0 until Sam Vokes, who had just come on as a substitute, equalised. We weren’t fortunate though, we’d been the better of the two teams. That was in December 2012; just a few months later it was 1-1 again at Ewood but this time they got the late goal, deep into stoppage time. Jason Shackell had given us the lead in the first half but then came that Dunn goal in the 95th minute. Some would say it was just offside; it wasn’t, it was yards offside and it is really difficult to believe that it wasn’t seen and given by the assistant.

Still, two draws had set us up nicely and it was 1-1 at the Turf again in the following season. Junior Stanislas scored an outstanding goal for us but a Scott Arfield mistake led to Jordan Rhodes equalising around five minutes from the end, just before Lee Williamson came on as a substitute and just before Lee Williamson was sent off by Craig Pawson.

Three draws now, were we ever going to get that win? I felt privileged. I was in a better position than a lot of Burnley supporters. Not only had I been there to witness a win against them, I’d six times been at Ewood Park when Burnley came home with the points. I always believed that it should be a God given right that a Burnley supporter should see us win at Ewood.

Then, seven years ago yesterday, it happened. It wasn’t all plain sailing. The aforementioned Rhodes scored again and then missed a sitter. With not much over twenty minutes remaining we trailed 1-0 when Sean Dyche introduced Ross Wallace and Ashley Barnes as substitutes. Five minutes later we were level and another six minutes on and we’d gone in front. What had started with a chicken on the pitch was going to end brilliantly.

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I don’t need to say too much about the goals. You’ve all seen them. You know the two substitutes played their parts. You know that Shackell scored again and that Danny Ings netted the winner. Once in front, it didn’t seem as though the final whistle would ever come and then it did and being stood in the Darwen End was simply magical. It was over, our long wait for a win against them was over.

“You see a lot of people, like me, come and go from the game but today is about the supporters having something to adhere to and something to believe in once again,” manager Sean Dyche said after the victory as the Clarets got set to march on to promotion. In the previous two weeks we’d beaten potential promotion rivals Nottingham Forest and Derby, two games that I’d stressed again and again were far more important than the local derby. I thought I meant it but when that final whistle blew at Ewood I knew I was wrong. “They are not hurting us any more, they can’t hurt us any more,” I wrote. “Was it as good as you thought it would be?” I asked friends who had witnessed a win against them for the first time. “Better, much better,” they said.

We’d got the taste for it and two seasons later not only did we beat them at Ewood again but we did the double over them with two 1-0 wins. Arfield, whose mistake had cost us in 2013, became Super Scotty Arfield with the goal at the Blackburn End, I think it is described as putting in their net, and the subsequent charge down to the Darwen End to celebrate in front of the Burnley fans. Andre Gray got the goal at the Turf from the penalty spot and we were bidding farewell again with another promotion.

Three draws and then three wins. Could you ask for anything more? Oh yes, a win in a cup competition when we were so much better than them it was brilliant to watch. By now Coyle damaged and in League One, they simply had no answer to us in the League Cup. We won 2-0 with goals from Jack Cork and Robbie Brady but it could have been more. In some ways it was better that we didn’t get more, it was funnier watching us playing with them.

Cork and Brady. The most recent names I’ve added to my list of Burnley players I’ve seen score against them in games that haven’t ended in defeat.

My List

Brian Miller
Andy Lochhead
Gordon Harris
Arthur Bellamy
Walter Joyce
John Connelly
Willie Irvine
Alex Elder
Ralph Coates
Ian Brennan
Peter Noble
Peter Robinson
Malcolm Smith
Terry Cochrane
Paul Fletcher
Brian Hall
Tony Morley
Sam Vokes
Jason Shackell
Junior Stanislas
Danny Ings
Scott Arfield
Andre Gray
Jack Cork
Robbie Brady

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We were on the return journey to Burnley after the League Cup win when we learned what their manager Tony Mowbray had said on Radio Lancs. “It’s hard to take for the Rovers fans to see Burnley that far in front of us at the moment,” were the words. I can’t imagine any one of their fans would have enjoyed him saying it. We did, we loved it.

In five days time it will be 1,300 days since we last played them but, more importantly, today it is 4,000 days since Blackburn, Lancashire beat us.

And counting.

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