That was the week that was
Sheffield United should have been at the Turf today in what would have been their first visit for a top flight fixture since goals from Ray Hankin, Derek Scott and Brian Flynn gave us a 3-1 win against them in February 1976 on a day when both Scott and Flynn scored their first Turf Moor goals.
Instead, we take a look back to the end of what was a terrific week for us just over four years ago, in January 2016. It started with a comeback to win in the FA Cup, a rare event indeed in recent years, and then two superb away wins in the league.
What a week it was. It all got underway on Saturday, 9th January 2016 when we travelled to Middlesbrough for a 3rd round FA Cup tie and came home with a 2-1 win. We followed that up with a 5-0 win at the Milton Keynes Franchise on the following Tuesday before going to Brentford on the Friday night and winning 3-1 in front of the Sky cameras.
I like to think I’m glass half full when it comes to the Clarets and I do find it tiresome that some Burnley fans always seem to be looking at ways to knock the club. I believe that the way we’ve progressed in recent years has been nothing short of remarkable but I don’t think even I could have envisaged at the time what happened in that week. I saw us come back from a goal behind to win that cup tie at Boro with goals from Stephen Ward and Rouwen Hennings and then witnessed our biggest away league win in approaching 69 years, and on my birthday too. Then came the Friday game as we eclipsed all that after turning in a stunning first half performance to blow Brentford away.
We were 3-0 up at half time; it could have been even more and possibly should have been. That we conceded a goal in the second half and won 3-1 hardly mattered as we came home with another fantastic away win to signal a 50th Championship win under Sean Dyche’s management.
I travelled over 1,000 miles to get to the games that week with the third of them the longest trip of the lot which saw our group leave the Burnley area at around 10:50 a.m. for a lunch stop in the West Midlands before making our way to West London for our first league visit to Griffin Park since the latter days of Stan’s promotion season in 2000.
I seem to remember it was a pleasantly warm day that day in 2000; not so this time as coats, scarves, hats and gloves appeared with the temperature dropping close to zero with our travelling group splitting up at the ground. The younger members opted for standing on the terracing whilst the older ones went upstairs for a more comfortable position in the seats. There are only six rows and I was right at the front.
The pre-match news, I could say, centred on our team which showed one change; George Boyd coming in for Michael Kightly with Dean Marney returning to the bench for Fredrik Ulvestad and Danijel Nizic also a substitute for Matt Gilks who had an elbow injury. I could say it centred on our team, but the big news came with the named Brentford team that did not include James Tarkowski who had said he didn’t want to play, an interesting one given we’d been linked with a move for him in that transfer window.
He’s a good defender, of that there’s no doubt, but the Brentford fans that night weren’t too concerned with his footballing ability. Instead their chants were more about his character and certainly weren’t anything other than derogatory. One journalist, who covers Brentford, demanded on the following day that they place the player on gardening leave for the remainder of his contract which ran until the end of the 2016/17 season.
Tarkowski in or out, it really wouldn’t have made any difference in the first forty-five minutes as Burnley turned in what was without any doubt the best performance of the season. I couldn’t remember when we last started an away game like that. In the first ten minutes we might have had at least a couple of goals. Former Bee Andre Gray might have done better with a Boyd ball in from the right; it fell to Scott Arfield who could only hit his shot at goalkeeper David Button. Gray was then onto a ball from Stephen Ward, who rampaged down our left hand side during the first half. It took a superb block from Jack O’Connell to deny him.
Burnley weren’t going to be denied for much longer and we got our first with a gem of a goal. Well done to referee Chris Kavanagh who played a good advantage when Joey Barton was fouled. He saw Ben Mee feeding Ward and allowed play to go on. Ward played it up to Gray who laid it back for Arfield, that’s the Arfield who had put the ball in the net of those who play at Ewood. His finish was absolutely superb as he curled it into the top corner leaving Button helpless.
There was nothing the keeper could do on the half hour either when we doubled our advantage. David Jones, once again in superb form, was fouled close to the edge of the box. From the other end, it looked as if he would take the free kick himself but Barton took over. His long, one step, run up was enough as he hit an absolute beauty into the same corner as Arfield had found, the ball going in off the post.
It was brilliant stuff and it became fantasy land six minutes from half time when Boyd volleyed into the bottom corner from just outside the box after a poor defensive header failed to clear the ball far enough.
Gray might have had a couple himself before the break but 3-0 at half time was outstanding stuff for the Clarets. When were we last three goals to the good at half time in an away game in the league? It was at the same ground back in 1997 when we led 3-0 against Brentford with two Jamie Hoyland goals and one from Damian Matthew.
It was never going to happen that we could repeat that in the second half. It was clear just watching the steam coming out of Dean Smith as he left at half time that the paint was going to be stripped off the home team dressing room wall and that they would come out much different.
They made two immediate changes. They got two players wide, hugging the touchlines, got the ball out and hammered crosses into our box. We needed to see it off without conceding and had we done so then I remain convinced we would have scored more.
We were very close to the point where they would have all but given it up when they pulled one back. Sam Vokes was unfortunate as he tried to get the ball away and it dropped kindly for Alan Judge on the left hand side. He came in and finished with a shot that maybe Tom Heaton could have dealt with.
It was ridiculous; suddenly I felt nervous and you are never too sure from over 100 yards away how close they were getting to a second. For all the balls they planted in there I have to say they didn’t really get that close at all. There were a couple of concerning moments as the ball ricocheted around in our box but generally we held control.
Rouwen Hennings came on with around 25 minutes to go, replacing Gray who had been so involved in the first half without getting the goal he so much wanted. The German striker’s hold up play was excellent and I’m sure he did the job asked of him perfectly.
By the time the 90 minutes arrived, we still led by two goals and that was never going to change too much when just three extra minutes were added on. We saw them out with Brentford getting the last touch of the ball with a header that went wide of goal.
That was it; three away games in less than a week and we were coming home with three wins. This one, for me, was the best.
In some ways Middlesbrough was the most difficult because they played well in the first half; the next was brilliant because of the scoreline and the fact of who it was and it being my birthday, but the opposition were, to be fair, rank bad. This one was against a decent team, of that there is no doubt, but we simply blew them away with in that first half.
We’d a break of ten days before Derby came to the Turf but it had been a great week for Burnley. We conceded the first goal in these games and the last one too. The ten between them though were what made it so special.
There was even bigger news before we played again. Six days after this win, Up the Clarets was launched as Burnley, who had been unbeaten since Boxing Day, then went on that staggering unbeaten run to win the Championship.
The teams were;
Brentford: David Button, Maxime Colin, Harlee Dean, Jack O’Connell, Jake Bidwell, Toumani Diagouraga, Ryan Woods, Sergi Canos (Sam Saunders ht), Alan Judge, John Swift (Nico Yennaris 67), Marco Djuricin (Lasse Vibe ht). Subs not used: Jack Bonham, Josh McEachran, Yoann Barbet, Philipp Hofmann.
Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Joey Barton, David Jones, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Andre Gray (Rouwen Hennings 65). Subs not used: Danijel Nizic, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Duff, Dean Marney, Matt Taylor, Michael Kightly.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Manchester).
Attendance: 10,039 (including 1,123 Clarets).Share this page :