The view from Tenerife
I was thinking a bit. It gets harder as you get older but you have to keep trying. We were on the plane and I looked out the window and thought ‘hell that looks a long way down.’ I still don’t understand how aeroplanes manage to stay up in the air.
‘Awesome,’ said little Joe the first time he flew with us and the plane banked over the bay as it came down to land. ‘Awesome.’
So we were in Tenerife at Golf del Sur again looking for some sun after this wet winter and cold (so far) April. Joe had his Tom Heaton kit with him and this season’s home strip. Last time we were there we met the Wellers, you know the guy, a quality car dealer that can be trusted (seriously). My mother once bought a car from a garage in Barnsley owned by a guy called Reg. Hmmm, I went, thinking is that a name that can be trusted? Turned out the car was OK in fact. Certainly wouldn’t buy a car from a guy called Cameron, that’s for sure. If we had wingers who could evade full backs like Call-me-Dave’s dad avoided paying tax we’d have sorted automatic promotion by mid-season. And this £9million he’s spending to send everyone a let’s stay in the EU letter. What a waste, we could just about pay for the new Gawthorpe with that.
Friday was travel day and the day kicked off in the Yorkshire Lounge at Leeds/Bradford, a lounge so generous with its bacon and sausage sandwiches and the free bar it belies any notions that Yorkshire folk are mean and stingy. We booked to go back for a fortnight and just eat and sit there, read the complimentary mags, sip G&T’s and watch the planes. Who actually needs to go away at their prices?
Departure was not without a couple of hitches. At check-in I didn’t see the girl slip JET2 discount vouchers into the passports. It would cause a bit of a kafuffle later. What JET2 do in their infinite wisdom is make them the same size and format and colour as boarding cards. Inside the passport you wouldn’t know the difference.
Onto the next hurdle and the guy round the corner who checks the boarding cards had clearly forgotten his badge that said ‘Grumpy Yorkshireman’. I handed over all four boarding cards for him to scan them. Except they weren’t the boarding cards they were the discount vouchers. He looked like he had a mouth full of wasps as he stared at them disbelievingly.
‘What are these?’ he asked.
From where I stood they still looked like boarding cards. ‘Boarding cards,’ I answered cheerfully, ‘all four of them there are four of us.’
‘Well you won’t get far with these,’ he muttered looking at me like I was an idiot. ‘These are discount vouchers,’ he added in a withering tone with a face that would have curdled a pint of milk. I can only assume he’d been up since about 2 or 3 in the morning and he was fed up of people going off on their jollies while he was stuck there bored witless. If I’d been quick I’d have said well it’s a cut price flight.
‘Eh?’ I said trying to appear intelligent. I laughed out loud realising what I’d done. He didn’t. Retrieving the discount vouchers I gave him the boarding cards. There wasn’t a thankyou or a glimmer of a smile as he handed them back. It was tempting to ask was he called Meldrew.
Next it was Mrs T’s turn to be under the spotlight. Unwittingly, the Gaviscon she carries with her in her handbag in a plain see-through phial, and not in the clear plastic bags that they like you to put these things in, was the catalyst for a bit of a conflab.
The woman on the scanner retrieved the handbag and handed it over to someone else. This next person rifled through the bag and fished out the phial. Hmmm she said and held it up to the light. Hmmm, what’s this? Mrs T was about to say it’s only my Gaviscon but the phial was taken over to a nearby huddle of blokes and handed to them. Hmmm they all said, what’s this then?
One of them walked over. Hmmm, what’s this, he asked Mrs T. What she really wanted to say was, it’s my f***ing Gaviscon you idiot, but instead she replied politely.
‘Er it’s just my Gaviscon; sorry I forgot it was in my handbag.’
‘Ah digestion problems eh,’ he laughed in a voice loud enough to have a dozen nearby heads turn around out of curiosity. ‘My wife has them too.’
It was the last hiccup of the morning, save for the luggage being last off the plane at Tenerife South. I can’t remember when our luggage was ever first off. It’s funny how everybody you meet says their luggage is always last off but how can that be true? My theory that luggage checked in when you’re first in the queue will be first off, was as usual blown to smithereens.
Course: the downside of all this week in the sun was missing the Leeds game. The wins had dried up over the previous three games and performances had stuttered. There’d been that magic few days when we’d been 7 points clear at the top but that was being whittled away. Then there was also the worry that Leeds always seem to up their game a bit at Turf Moor with a real derby feel to these games; Lancashire versus Yorkshire, good versus evil, Lancashire Hot Pot versus Yorkshire Pudding, and similar stuff. It’s funny for me actually living in Leeds and I’ve frequently been asked have I never fancied going down to Elland Road and supporting them. On balance I think I’d rather go down to the dentists.
I was terribly sad to hear that my chum John and Leeds supporter that we’d met in Kalkan some time ago (he of the pale white legs) had suffered a heart attack recently. His wife Kath got him to Dewsbury A&E pronto quick and a couple of stents did the trick. Funnily enough the attack was shortly after he’d watched Leeds at Burnley on the telly. The consultant had been firm with his advice. ‘You really need to stop watching Leeds United.’
We’d been scanning the Daily Express front pages for weather forecasts but they’d been strangely absent for a while. The Express only seems interested in hurricane winds, killer blizzards and monsoon rain, and even then they’re usually wrong. On the day the damning news broke about the leaked tax haven documents, the Express headlined with something about Walnuts. Anyway: the forecast from other sources seemed optimistic enough for the week so in went the sun hats and creams.
Evans was still at Leeds even though it was forecast he was for the chop after Leeds had lost heavily at Brighton and Cellino had of late been strangely quiet. His son however, Edoardo, had been charged by the FA for abusive and insulting comments made on social media. Their centre-forward had been banned for 8 games for biting another player. That would have been understandable if they were still taking their own economy-measure lunches to the training ground and he’d been a bit peckish but this munch was actually during a game.
The Leeds natives were restless following the defeat at Rotherham and then the game at home to QPR when bigears40 on one website said watching that game was worse than watching paint dry with two teams competing for nothing, without leadership, with some players just a liability, baffling substitutions and promises of promotion ‘next year.’ Next season said Bigears40 would be like watching another coat of paint drying.
@baldyman1965 was brief and to the point. ‘We’re screwed.’
Steve Evans meanwhile commented ominously: ‘I think they are the champions in waiting but if we play as well as we can, it’s game on.’ That was our question too, which Leeds would turn up on the day?
A good Leeds side did turn up on the day but mercifully missed two great heading chances. If this wasn’t the longest 94 minutes I have ever sat through I don’t know what is. The viewing conditions were perfect. Behind us the pool, beyond that the blue sky and the majestic Mount Teide, the bar to our left and in front of us on the low table, lunch. A Leeds fan sat to our right shouting and ranting every time Barton made a tackle. He came in after the game started and was gobsmacked to hear that Leeds were already a goal down. A goal in a minute, settling the nerves or so we thought but from that moment on it was purgatory from where we sat.
A text book goal as well: Heaton to Vokes, the flick on to Gray who then passed to Arfield. He then jinked inside the box and unleashed a diagonal shot that went in. Any thoughts of turning on the style and cracking home a few more were soon dispelled when Leeds came into the game more and more and played damned well. Not until the final moments of the game was there another slick Burnley move and in between Woods missed two glorious headed chances.
We sat and squirmed but this was what Dyche referred to as the beauty of an ugly win with heroic defending, cleared corners and routine goalkeeping that stopped Leeds from inflicting any real damage. Leeds forced a dozen or more corners and all were comfortably headed away with Burnley admirably demonstrating why they were holding on to that top spot. It was another result where the opposition walk away wondering just how they have lost. Burnley had the knack yet again of playing poorly but defending manfully. Nick a goal, have a strong chin and keep the other buggars out is the basic ploy.
‘That’s how we win,’ I said to the Leeds fan who sat shaking his head at the missed chances and also well aware of his own team’s shortcomings.
Arfield the subject of recent criticism was publicly defended by the manager who pointed out that he had more assists and goals than any other winger in the championship. And here he was again winning the points with his perfect strike. Boyd, too, could have added a carbon copy goal in the first half with a diagonal shot but his went inches wide.
And yet despite all that Leeds possession and good play, and all the nerves that jangled all afternoon, Barnes, on for the injured Vokes, could have sealed it in the final minute or so. Taylor also on as a sub, turned inside and played a lovely pass back to the incoming Barnes. He has to score, we yelled from Tenerife. He missed and put it wide. The goal gaped, he was just 8 yards out, perfectly positioned but using his right foot he fluffed his lines and what would have been a belter of a goal was just a what if. We howled with exasperation.
What a relief when that whistle went. Maybe the day seemed better at Turf Moor but at Golf del Sur on a TV screen it was excruciating. Winning ugly is fine but winning ugly just 1-0 is not good for the heart. It was Shredded Wheat on the patio for breakfast. It was shredded nerves for lunch.
Another riposte from Dyche when someone said that’s another lucky win. ‘Lucky – I’ll show you the 11 penalties we should have had this season.’
Still top then on Saturday night but how football can change so quickly. By the time we got back home to a soaked, freezing cold and wind-blasted Leeds/Bradford airport, Brighton had played twice and Middlesbrough once. We squirmed through dinner on Monday night in the restaurant with the Brighton game on the IPad. A last minute goal won the game for Brighton. A last minute goal won the game for Middlesbrough on Tuesday night and ruined another meal. On Friday night as we were on the way home Brighton then won 5-0 and there was Burnley down to third. From being 7 points ahead not that many days ago, they were now out of the automatic places.
Last minute and injury time goals could well decide how this season ends. Middlesbrough won at lunchtime at Bolton with what else but an injury time goal. Every time one of these last minute goals went in you thought back to the last minute Wolves equaliser at Burnley that deprived Burnley of the win and all three points. Being a glass not even half-full sort of bloke I’d turned to Mrs T convinced that it was a goal that could cost us the title. Her reply was to be expected.
‘Stop being so bloody miserable, your father was just the same.’
Squirming through the Leeds game ruined our lunch as we watched on TV. The last minute Brighton goal ruined dinner on Monday. The last minute Middlesbrough goal ruined our dinner on Tuesday. All I could think was thank God for Gaviscon. Feeling morose from time to time is part of the Burnley psyche and then seeing that last minute Boro goal at Bolton made a pretty convincing argument that the football Gods were having a little laugh at our expense. From 7 points ahead at the top to 5 points behind within just a few days seemed quite absurd.
But against Birmingham thank God for Boyd and Gray and a 2-1 win at a place where Burnley don’t win too often. We were due out for a meal on Saturday night. Boy did we enjoy this one. There’s a case for saying that there is no such thing as a must-win game but this was the game that blew that idea right out of the water. In this nail-biting end to the season it was a simply massive win and put Burnley right back into a position that leaves not us, but Brighton playing catch-up.
And fingers crossed we don’t need any more Gaviscon.Share this page :