Saturday was a day for firsts, AP McCoy romped home in the Grand National in his fifteenth attempt and Burnley earned their first ever away victory in the Premier League after previously drawing one and losing fifteen. It seemed like the Gods were smiling, except on me who didn’t back either.
After a turbulent week in the history of the club a positive performance and result was paramount for everybody involved with Burnley. After a humiliating defeat at the hands of Manchester City, stories of discontent within the ranks began to spiral out of control.
There was the incident involving Kevin McDonald, who left the ground at half time to spend the second half in a local working men’s club, rumours of bust ups between Brian Laws and Clarke Carlisle and Robbie Blake, as well as Joey Gudjonsson speaking to some website saying that the manager had lost the dressing room.
Chairman Barry Kilby must be thinking he should never leave, while on holiday in January the Owen Coyle saga began and this time he was to return after an embarrassing defeat and the alleged bedlam that was being reported around it.
With growing opposition to Brian Laws from some of the Clarets faithful prior to the trip to Hull the game was becoming as much of a career defining moment for him as it was season defining for the football club.
It was now time to show some spirit and prove to the world that Burnley would not be giving up their Premier League status without showing some fight. While in the car on Saturday flicking between various radio stations I was happy to hear that absolutely nobody gave us a chance. One pundit even predicted Hull could stick three or four past us; it was time to prove everybody wrong.
After a couple of minutes at the KC those hacks forecasts could’ve been proved correct as Kevin Kilbane was left free to put the home side one up. It was a true “here we go again” moment. Thankfully the players showed some fighting spirit and recovered to keep us from falling further behind. Then ten minutes before half time Martin Paterson did the business as he turned and fantastically put away a Tyrone Mears cross.
With the scores level at half time the game was there for the taking but in truth could’ve gone either way. Then suddenly the luck that has deserted us came flowing back as when Michael Duff went down in the box just past the hour mark the referee pointed to the spot and Graham Alexander coolly did the rest to give us the lead.
Six minutes later we got a second penalty, Nugent was felled by Mouyokolo only for Alexander to step up again and send Myhill the wrong way with the outside of his boot. And then as if the result wasn’t already good enough, Wade Elliot added a superb fourth as he struck a fantastic looping free kick over the hapless Hull keeper to mark his 200th appearance in Claret and Blue.
It was a tremendous result and one that now gives us a fighting chance of survival. Great credit must go to Brian laws and the players for coming back from all that’s happened recently. The manager in particular has come in for all sorts of stick and for me did well in asking the players to respond not for him, but for the fans and their own pride.
If we can now build on this result and get some momentum going then anything is possible. If we show the same passion and character as Saturday in our away games against Sunderland and Birmingham then we could take advantage of the fact that both sides have little to play for and get two positive results.
With Liverpool seemingly now concentrating all their hopes on winning the Europa League after yesterday’s goalless draw with Fulham I wouldn’t put it past us to get a surprise result against them either. Especially as Rafa is likely to field a weakened team as the game is sandwiched between their semi final clash with Athletico Madrid. That would leave a final blockbusting game against Tottenham at the Turf which may decide our fate.
Defeat against Hull at the weekend would’ve killed the season off but now we can look forward to next Saturday knowing another positive result would keep us within touching distance of safety. As our old boss Stan Ternent used to say “one swallow doesn’t make a summer” but it’s most definitely a start. Some may say this result has come too late to help us after our recent poor form but I disagree. “Half a loaf is better than no loaf at all” was another Ternent idiom; and as long as survival is still possible, I’ll keep on believing.