Report: Burnley 1-1 Portsmouth

We are not sipping from the last chance saloon by any means, but Monday’s draw with Pompey did little to ignite our late play-off bid.

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Fan Month: Dave Thomas

I was a Primary school teacher for 34 years and for 14 of those a headteacher in Leeds teaching Leeds children to be a Burnley supporter. I failed miserably but did teach Dean West for two years and remember jokingly saying I’ll get you a trial at Burnley one day.

I was a Primary school teacher for 34 years and for 14 of those a headteacher in Leeds teaching Leeds children to be a Burnley supporter. I failed miserably but did teach Dean West for two years and remember jokingly saying I’ll get you a trial at Burnley one day.

Wrote the first Burnley book in 2003 I think it was. It seems an age ago. The new one is number 9 and with Roger Eli have already started the next one for May 2012 to celebrate what to me, was the most important promotion of all. It got us out of the Fourth Division after 7 years of misery. I’m 66 now so I reckon there’s four more books left at least. There’s no shortage of subjects with Burnley’s history being so rich. Former director Derek Gill gave me copies of his diaries of the John Bond/John Jackson period. They are a fantastic insight into a volatile three years. You can Dave’s Burnley FC books HERE

The Early Years

How did you become a Claret?

Living in Leeds for the last 40 years or so has never stopped any interest in Burnley FC. I started way back in 1959 in the season that we won the title. My father took me of course and I never thought then that one day I’d end up doing two books with Jimmy McIlroy who I was able to watch until he left in early ’63.

Then it was college from 63 to 66 and managed to get to games when I was at home but it was good fun going to see Liverpool every now and then in the great Shankly days. Ormskirk College was not far from Liverpool.

From living in Todmorden for the first 20 years or so then it was Hebden Bridge when I got married and fortunately Mrs T had always been hooked on Burnley… from the days of Willie Irvine onwards. She is from Leeds so that’s why we moved to Leeds when we both got teaching jobs there.

From round about 82 to 2000 there was a long spell when we got to very few games because of family and work. And when both my parents died there was no-one to leave the kids with in Tod while we went to the match.

Circumstances then allowed us to resume visits to Turf Moor in Stan Ternent’s time and support from afar was replaced by support from the James Hargreaves. We’ve had season tickets ever since.

What was the moment you knew you’d be a fan for life?

I’m not sure there’s one moment that you know that you are a fan for life. I’ve been to Bradford and to Leeds to watch them but felt nothing, no attachment or anything. Can you really put your finger on what makes you a Claret? It’s just there I think. You can’t analyse it or what brings you to drive 40 miles for a game when they are playing badly or are boring as they were in the final days of Steve Cotterill. I missed all the 7 years in the Fourth Division. It must have been dreadful to be there.

Who was your first BFC hero?

First hero of course was Jimmy Mac. I was a schoolboy then. And now I’m in touch with him on a regular basis and doing the two books with him was an absolute joy. We spent hours in front of screens at the designers going through pictures and selecting them and for every one there was a story. The scrapbook will be a collectors item I’m sure in a few years. There’s just a few left at the publishers.

What is your favourite BFC match ever?

It’s impossible to say. I saw the European games, Wembley 62. I saw games that ensured survival, the Orient Game, Waddle’s last game v Plymouth on the last day of the season. Wembley 2009 of course was wonderful but maybe the one night that was even more memorable was the Chelsea Carling Cup win. There was the 4 – 1 win at Leeds in Adamson’s time. That’s got to be up there.

And what is your least favourite?

Least favourite: some dreadful games in Cotterill’s time probably in the final period – home to Luton or Hull. They were simply awful. But then like I say I never saw any of the Fourth Division games. Watching the Orient game was excruciating. The final whistle was ecstatic.

The Current Era

What do you make of Eddie Howe so far?

Eddie Howe needs time and I’m sure will be given it. His problem is he is not comfortable with the media and today its an essential part of the job. He took over at a very difficult time. He has a big sorting job on his hands – players to get in and players to shift out. I’m baffled why Elliot isn’t his first name on the team sheet in his best role wide right.

Who is your current favourite player?

I don’t have one but there are players I respect  – Alexander, Jensen, Carlisle.

What are your feelings towards Owen Coyle now?

Owen Coyle worked miracles with them and the rest of the squad. I’m like so many people having huge respect and admiration for what he achieved. But then I shake my head at the way he left after all the things he said such as “I’m here for as long as the club want me.” The new book looks at it all in an objective and analytical way. I stood back and made myself as detached as I could be, tried to be neutral.

But there’s no doubt he has the magic touch and he provided the best ever season for us all. Time mellows peoples’ feelings. There’s an acceptance now that he moved on. But I doubt he’d ever be welcomed with warmth and affection in the town despite what he achieved. It’s sad. And I’ll forever think had he stayed we’d have got the points to stay up.He took heart, spirit, positivity away with him. Jensen in his book gives a few insights into the effects.

Do you think we can make the play-offs?

As I write yes we can still make the play-offs but it needs some wins and fast against several of the top sides. The heart says yes, the head says no.

Do you want Rovers and PNE to stay up?

Yes I’d love Rovers to come down but Preston to stay up. Why get rid of a good local derby?

The Future

Do you think we can become an established Premier League side?

No we will not become an established Premier side. The odds are too great. Yes we might get there if we have one more miraculous season. I’ll forever think the luck and football gods were with us in the last 6 games in 2008/09. But staying there – fraid not.

Should we look to develop Turf Moor or move to a new ground?

A new ground would kill the club. It’s perfect where it is, in the town, almost the heart of the town. Yes it needs developing and I’m in the pro Stadiarena camp. I think it could be fantastic and with the right people running it with vision and imagination it can work.

How far can we go under Eddie Howe?

Under Eddie Howe we should stay an established Championship side. A one season visit to the Prem a big maybe. We had a taste and we liked it. But I do believe it was a fluke because we had every stroke of luck going at the end. The head says it won’t happen again.

Will we ever beat Rovers?

Yes we will beat Rovers again one day. Everything comes round to he who waits.

When will Graham Alexander finally retire?

Graham Alexander my guess will go on playing until he is 42 maybe in a player manager role.


Entertainment, Heroes and Villains: now available

The new book of Dave Thomas – retired schoolteacher and acclaimed Burnley FC writer – is now available. The book was launched earlier this month at Turf Moor with many Clarets heroes present at the event.

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