By Kieron Duxbury
June 20 2009
Kieron Duxbury, once again gives us his thoughts on the games leading up to and including the Play Off Final. Kieron writes; " It has been a 33 year wait with lots of blood, sweat and tears, but Monday May 25th 2009 will be one date no Burnley fan will ever forget. For this was to be the day that Burnley would return to the Promised Land."
We had heartbreak earlier this decade, whereby after promotion to the Championship, we missed out on the Playoffs twice, at the expenses of West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City. However, the 2008-2009 campaign would prove to be very gracious to the Clarets, as after a heart throbbing campaign what has seen 61 games, 95 goals, 2 Cup competitions and one of the fewest amount of players utilised in a campaign, Burnley were back in the big time.
January 2009 saw Burnley come up against their 4th London opposition in an astonishing Carling Cup run. After a memorable 1st leg 1st half performance that saw them go 1-0 in at the break, Burnley let the lead slip, and let Harry’s team pull off a 4-1 thumping of Burnley.
But it was the 2nd leg that was to prove to fans of Football, not only in England, but throughout the world, that anything is possible.
Magician Robbie Blake had one of the best performances in his Burnley career that night, having torn apart the likes of Chris Gunter & Jonathan Woodgate to name a few. Robbie had rippled the back of the net in the 1st half with a precision free kick, and was to play a part in the two additional goals for Burnley that night; ripping two defenders to pieces with a fantastic dribbling run to send the ball to McCann to finish the 2nd goal, and then to cross the ball for Super Sub Jay Rodriguez to finish off the 3rd goal after Alnwick spilled the ball.
We were cruelly undone in this match though, after Russian star Pavlyuchenko and returning hero Jermaine Defoe cruelly tore Burnley hearts to pieces.
However, the inspirational Clarets squad let their emotion out and used this experience to spur them on in the final half of the season.
After the Carling Cup heartbreak; Burnley were to lose only 4 of their remaining Championship fixtures; and ultimately managed to succeed in getting into the Playoffs; at the 3rd attempt in the decade.
We had come up against a Reading side in the Playoff semi final’s that had not won at home since late January; and were somewhat very poor in general throughout the latter half of the season.
A late penalty by Graham Alexander in the 1st leg, followed by a shirt removing tantrum by Andre Bikey saw Owen Coyle’s side go into a 2nd leg Playoff game very much to their advantage.
A brilliant run by the Clarets leading goalscorer Martin Paterson saw the away section of the Madjeski stadium bouncing up and down, after a sensational 35 yard left footer, before Steve Thompson would add to the quality of goals by Burnley with a fantastic dipping shot over Hahnemann only 7 minutes later.
And so after heartache only 4 months previous, Burnley was indeed destined to go to the national stadium after all. Burnley, a founder member of the Football League, were to fight out a battle of the The Roses with Sheffield United, a founder member of the Premier League, in the most lucrative game in Football.
As May 25th 2009 drew nearer and nearer, I became more excited, yet somewhat nervous.
A 6am departure from the Turf saw me embark on my 4th trip to the Capital this season, after making the long visits to Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal.
After an incident on the motorway near Stafford, we eventually arrived at the ground at lunchtime, mesmorised by the sight of the national stadium that is Wembley, yet somehow annoyed at the fact we were taken through the Sheffield United fans.
However, we had time to soak up the atmosphere, enjoy the day and watch the Super Clarets in one of the most lucrative games of Football in the world.
It drew nearer to kickoff, I was at my seat. I was excited and thrilled we were there, yet at the same time still couldn’t believe it.
The teams were in the tunnel, ready, the fans cheering with such excitement and creating such a fantastic atmosphere. Then the teams came out. I was cheering for my team louder than I’ve done all this season, and somewhat choked my in pride as they came out. Whatever the impending result, the lads had done me proud that day.
The first 10 or so minutes of the game seemed to be all Sheffield United. Burnley were struggling to keep possession, but it’s the goals that win you matches, and low and behold, Burnley delivered.
Wade Elliot has been a revelation in midfield this season, and surged forward from the Burnley half to the outside of the 18 yard box before finding midfield partner Chris McCann. McCann took a shot, the ball blocked away by the Sheffield United defenders into the path of Wade Elliot, who struck it cleanly with his right foot to shake the back of the net and send the Claret & Blue half of Wembley Stadium into sheer delirium. 77 minutes from a £60million payout, could Burnley do it? Could Burnley make their season’s pain, turn into joy and ecstasy?
The two teams pushed on, chances came and went, substitutions were made for injuries and Burnley fans dream’s gradually became more and more of a reality as the final whistle became closer.
In the Burnley end, chants of “E I E I E I O up the Football league we go” bellowed throughout London, whilst in the Sheffield United end, you could hear a pin drop. There were fans around me praying to the Gods to make it happen. We were desperate to avoid heartbreak after what had happened against Tottenham.
90 minutes and injury time was up. Burnley had a set piece in the form of a corner to send them into the Premier League, with the Sheffield end emptying on the opposite side of the stadium.
Mike Dean rather graciously pressed his lips against his whistle and blew. FULL TIME! BURNLEY ARE BACK!
I, like many other thousands of fans, was jumping up and down in excitement, a few tears of happiness streaming down my face. No longer would I have to rely on Cup runs like we’ve seen this season to further fuel our passion of beating the best. It was the best news we could have hoped to hear...no more FA and League cup hopes of playing them...read it, and do it slowly... Barclays Premier League: Burnley V Blackburn Rovers
We had set off on May 25th 2009 not knowing our future, but today we can build on our future. Our financial situation has been further helped by this promotion, and no matter what happens, I for one will always be proud to be Claret.
And so it is with some very great pride and happiness that I can say to fellow Burnley fans, Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome...to the Premier League