Just got in. Not a hope in hell of getting to sleep. Too wired. Watching it all again on Sky. What a fantastic night. Better than beating Chelsea.
I feel so so sorry for people who do not get football, who will never know what it is like to feel as the Burnley fans felt after 50 and 58 minutes of tonight’s match at Reading when two of the best goals any of us will ever see went in, first from Martin Paterson, then Stevie Thompson.
It was bedlam, absolute wonderful bedlam in the away end. As it was a warm evening, I’d taken my coat off and put it on the floor. By the time the bedlam had calmed, my coat was ten seats away. Both my sons were with me and there are few greater father-son hugs than the ones which follow a goal scored right in front of you. By the time the second one went in, people were climbing over seats to hug total strangers.
So now, as if the season had not had enough to offer already, we are off to Wembley on May 25, my 52nd birthday. There is only one present I want when we meet Sheffield United – another win like tonight’s.
Sheff U’s manager Kevin Blackwell was in the Sky commentary box behind us and took some very loud abuse in good humour. But he goes into the play off final knowing we have beaten his team twice already this season, and our players will be full of confidence they can do it again. So much sport is about psychology. I have spent a lifetime following Burnley, and for many of those years I have gone to matches with a vague hunch we might lose. I was often right. It’s why we went from top to bottom of the Football League in 25 years. These days we turn up feeling a win is likelier than a defeat.
Just one more win, and we are in the Premiership, the greatest football league in the world. It would be a fantastic achievement for a small town club.
Most of the Burnley fans stayed in the ground singing and dancing and generally having a good time for ages after the final whistle in the hope the players would come back out. Once it was clear they weren’t, I went round to the main stand to take up Reading chairman Sir John Madejski’s pre-match offer of a post-match drink. He was very generous in defeat, as was manager Steve Coppell when he came up later.
I also took the chance to congratulate our chairman, Barry Kilby, and his directors. Chairmen and directors get a lot of grief from fans at most clubs, and are all expected to have the kind of money Russian oligarchs throw at their clubs. Barry is a real Burnley supporter but the success we are enjoying is his and the board’s as well as the manager’s and the players.
One thing I sense, from the Reading reaction to our win, and the sheer volume of text messages coming in from all over the place as the game ended, is that we will be the neutral’s favourite. Burnley have really caught the football world’s imagination this year.
We will also have massive support of our own. The whole town will get a gigantic lift out of tonight. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, than can quite match the power of football to deliver the joy it delivered tonight, the excitement of the next eleven days, and the expectation of May 25.
Just watched another brilliant post match interview by Owen Coyle. What a manager. Off to bed.