Burnley is so northern that if you were to get stabby with it using a kitchen knife it’d bleed that most northern of mythical creatures resembling the body of a whippet, the wings of a pigeon and a mane functioning as a flat cap. The only way to trap one is to taunt it with a smashed bag of pie and peas upwind from one of its watering holes. (You can also capture their young with a kebab.)
In fact, Burnley is so northern that even your average southerner can’t help but become a token one in the nanosecond it takes to pronounce the town’s name properly.
Burnley and the surrounding area has been equally ridiculed, despised and patronised by all and sundry for quite a while – some of it warranted and some of it not. But Burnley and the Dingle enclaves don’t really get too many chances to amend their ways – granted, there’s Shameless that allows the middle classes access to northern council estate life without them having to get smacked around in one (don’t forget that Paul Abbott, original writer of Shameless, is a born and bred Burnley lad).
The last time I thought we might have had a decent chance of showing the rest of the UK that we weren’t a bunch of unpleasant, half-witted racist thugs was when the BBC came to televise the FA Cup clash between Burnley and Blackburn at Turf Moor. But, in true Shameless fashion, some idiot managed to run on the pitch and punch a policewoman. Granted, she couldn’t have come from Burnley as she would’ve punched him back.
But, we had shown the nation that they could now add women beaters to the list.
Now if anybody had told me, you or the lollipop lady that Burnley would be a trip to Wembley away from hitting the Premier League big time with their tiny squad and limited resources you’d brand them a fool. And if anybody suggested they’d do it with a certain flair and panache having missed out during previous cup runs seeing off the likes of Fulham, Chelsea, Arsenal and almost Tottenham to reach the Carling Cup final, and finally stumbling in the fifth round of the FA Cup you’d suggest they were the village idiot – which means they were probably from round Burnley way.
Not only have they done it against all expectations, they’ve played the type of football that has pundits and neutrals all over the country gushing with praise and genuinely wanting Burnley to win at Wembley on Monday.
It’s been a fair old turnaround.
I’ve still yet to get bored watching those two goals against Reading:
But you’ll also find plenty of people suddenly looking at Burnley and the area in a slightly different light – especially should they make it to the Premiership. All of a sudden this town that was an original founding member of the football league ceases to be a media laughing stock (should it ever appear in it) but spoken of with a footballing reverence in both the way its football team plays the game and its history. Burnley is not seen as some fancy franchise with overpaid nonces in a soulless stadium forcing supporters to fritter away their hard-earned, but as a romantic throwback to less cynical days.
Burnley is what is commonly referred to as a ‘proper club’. You see, Burnley, Pendle and the rest of the area has been in a credit crunch for nigh on ten years; and pots to piss in disappeared long before that. But that didn’t stop ‘em painting the town hall clock claret and blue:
Burnley’s Claret & Blue Town Hall Clock
But, before this turns into a Python-esque ramble about living in shoeboxes, I’d just like to wish everybody who’s going all the best to have a smashing day out seeming there’ll be nigh on 36,000 making the trip from all four corners of the globe – alas, I shan’t be one of them, but I know both Matt and John have tickets.
I also know the tight buggers are taking their own butties as they refuse to pay six quid for a Wembley commemorative pie.
And that, my friends, is the north summed up in a pie crust.