It’s Decision Time
‘cos the Burnley Promotion Party (including the aftermath of the FA fiasco but let’s not get ahead of ourselves) is ready to roll.
I live in Helmshore but work in Littleborough. It’s Monday afternoon and I’m waiting for proofs of my latest books: The Slow Holocaust and Unfinished Tales. I need them in order to be ready for Scribblecon / Todmorden later in the month (the 28th).
My wife rang. “You haven’t forgotten about Burnley, have you? It’s just been on the radio – traffic’s building.”
To be honest I need the proofs – I am running out of time to make amendments. Had they arrived? They were late. On the other hand, it sounded like I’d just been handed a free evening pass. I miss going on matches which haven’t been able to afford for quite some time. “Okay,” I reply, “I’m going to check it out.”
Normally I take the road from Tod to Bacup. It’s the shortest route but the road is in a mess. On that latter point, there’s been multiple roadworks up and down the Tod side for the last few years. This has left the A681 in a dreadful state – little better than a dirt track for long stretches. The utility companies should hand their heads in shame. It’s a relief to not put my motor through that. Instead I carry straight ahead through Tod and onto the A646.
Burnley Promotion Party
It’s 16:00. There’s little sign of extra traffic as I come to the edge of Burnley. That could change in the centre. I decide to take a left and park a bit out of town. Traffic can be deceptive and I would rather not get stuck on Todmorden Road. I head up to Glen View Road and nearly take a right to get a pie at Eddies Bakery. I decide against it and instead get parked up.
The walk down Manchester Road is good. The few Burnley shirts become more once I pass Manchester Rd Railway Station. Past the roundabout I see perhaps a thousand fans in front of the Town Hall. It’s now 16:45. I regret my earlier decision not to get a pie so I decide on a detour down Hammerton Street – once I get in the crowd I’ll stick, like glue.
It’s not as easy as I thought. The place is barricaded here and there. Eventually I wobble my 17 Stone way down to Burnley Mall (or Charter Walk to be pedantic). An Oddies beckons and I do not resist. Soon I am happily noshing, not far off where Woolworth’s used to be. Small children announce their presence with a who can blow their kazoo loudest? competition. No one wins so they have a rematch. Shoppers drift in and out of Boots.
It’s now 17:45. No. of people gathered outside the Town Hall:4 or 5k. There’s a swathe of Claret and Blue with a good admixture of away strip yellow. My phone no longer has room for video so I’ve reverted to camera. Tek loads-a-pics says my son. He’s working.
The noise from the kazoos drowns out most of everything. We aren’t packed too close but I need to stand on tiptoe to see more. Alternatively my camera held high could get some shots. It tries but sometimes all it finds is a forest of off-duty selfie-devices, busy doing a camera turn. I worry that the battery isn’t charged up enough for videos – besides, I can’t see what to focus on.
A PA blares out music, alternating between rock and smooth soul sounding stuff.
The town centre is awash with traders. There’s a min-boom in Claret-ophilia. It’s now an outpost of souvenir city. Plenty of flag waving. Leaf light fingers on my pocket. Nothing has gone. A false alarm.
Applause ripples out for an unseen event. The kazoos trumpet on. A forest of flags erupts then slowly subsides. Excitement is climbing.
“Burnley, Burnley, Burnley.” They chant to my left. It moves off into the centre of the crowd. They aren’t finished. More chants begin. It’s an epicentre of songs. We are at 5:55.
“23 Unbeaten,” gets some airtime. At times it sounds like Dirty Bee. I need my ears washing out. A lone balloon escapes – it’s nearly 6 and near too tightly packed for easy passing. The flow of people has all but ended. But we’re not sardines, we’re Clarets.
“Sean Dyche’s C & B Army ripples around. They sing and hearts are beating Claret and Blue. There’s plenty more.
How many now? 10K Feels like much of the town. I have a notepad problem – feels like the spiral is disintegrating. I look. It is. “No Nay Never” they sing and I make a hash of running repairs. My camera goes up for the umpteenth time. Eventually I jury rig a fix.
It’s still filling.
Things happen I get busy on my camera. When I get chance I check the time. It’s 6:40. My notes fragment. We’ve had the players presented. Joey Barton had a wardrobe malfunction – that is (reading between the lines) he hadn’t changed into strip. And obviously worse for the wear (or the drink).
Photos. Then a wait.
The presentation break (try to ‘sober’ Joey up) lasts a little time. The supporters are in the main immensely amused by this. He might have been here only a year but they’ve taken to him.
Having been presented from the Town Hall balcony, players will now be introduced to receive the Championship Champion Trophy. What were the FA thinking in sending it to Middlesbrough on the last match of the season? Something stinks over that. Anyway it’s in Burnley, finally.
We do song rehearsals.
“Are you watching, Middlesbrough?” gets a run out as do others. The players come out. And we give our lungs a workout. The cup is paraded to cheers. My camera is almost out of juice. There’s plenty of fake Championship cups about. A player brandishes one. (Mr Barton’s benign influence methinks) Point taken. Are you watching, FA?
A refrain of “Are you watching, Middlesbrough?”
At 7:00 they filter back through h-officers and sec-hurity. It’s time for Turf Moor. It’s Always Time For Turf Moor!
We move down to Hargreaves Street. The road behind has morphed into wind-swept litter. A council vehicle tidies. By me, an Asian man (ok Indian but we have to be PC, ok?) copes with his young daughter n his neck. She’s not happy unless she’s blowing the kazoo in his ear. He’s not happy. Kids. We’ve all had ’em.
It’s been 2+ hours – the festival is still on. My camera battery dies. Bus + players have passed. The barricades are dismantled. I walk back up Manchester Road; the flyover is at a standstill. Chants from Yorkshire Street – ½ a mile off – echo round the valley. People file away in three’s sixes, seven’s – groups of all kinds. The feeling won’t go away.
I don’t get the sense of duplicity that I got when we first went up to the Premier League. Owen Coyle’s answers were unconvincing. When Sean Dyche decides to leave, it will be as Champion and King. It will be the right decision.
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I drive home. the party has just begun for some. My proofs still haven’t come. I’m running out of time if I want to be ready for Scribblecon. There’s lots to do – I can’t just turn up. I plan to be there with these – but these are merely jpgs – I need the hard copies.
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