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"We're Burnley, not Barcelona": Burnley's first match in the Premier League

Tuesday 10th May 2016
Football is a curious game. It throws all sorts of twists, turns and surprises and no more so than that night at Turf Moor in 2009.

Having just been promoted with a 1-0 victory in the playoff final in 2009 Burnley came into the 2009/2010 season fresh-faced and full of hope for their first excursion into the Premier League. The year before, led by the imperious Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United won the title.

With names like Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen on show Burnley entered the stage to rapturous ovation from expectant and excited clarets. Times were changing though. Cristiano Ronaldo had gone, Ferguson was threatening to retire and the class of 92 had started to age. Burnley's band of renegades, led by a 37 year old Graham Alexander as captain, had been branded the ‘nation's second team' and brought the bounce back to a forgotten Lancashire mill town.

The game started with the usual united swagger, a ball played to Michael Owen within 2 minutes that should have been placed safely in the Burnley net. However, Owen missed and Burnley began to believe. The atmosphere soared, ‘Owen Coyle's Claret and Blue army' rang out, and in the 19th minute the deadlock was broken. Not by a rampant Manchester United, who had been on the front foot from moment one, but by the underdogs.

"Burnley's band of renegades, led by a 37 year old Graham Alexander as captain, had been branded the ‘nation's second team' and brought the bounce back to a forgotten Lancashire mill town"

Stephen Jordan sent in a rare cross from the left side and having failed to punch the ball clear Ben Foster could not stop Robbie Blake's controlled, devastating strike into the top corner of his net. An earthquake rumbled through the centre of Burnley. Euphoria rained through the corrugated iron roofs of Turf Moor.

You'd have expected a response. That was always the United way, the Ferguson way. However, when Michael Owen, one of the country's greatest goal scorers, misses chance after chance, a feeling of childish glee runs through the body. Shortly before half time Patrice Evra was brought down by goal scorer Blake with the resulting penalty to be taken by the ever reliable Michael Carrick. The colossus known as ‘the Beast', Brian Jensen, stood between the posts. Carrick stepped and hit the ball straight into the gargantuan legs of the Dane and Burnley fought on to claim an unbelievable, somewhat inconceivable victory.

This game wasn't about how Burnley were going to get on that year. Everyone knew it was going to be hard for a cash-strapped Lancashire town to survive amongst some of the biggest spenders in world football. The town needed the win, the club needed it and most of all the players needed it to believe they could mix it in that league. Unfortunately the season ended for Burnley relegation. Football is about moments and this game will always be remembered for the flourish of Robbie Blake's right boot. One fan leaving Turf Moor summed it up perfectly, “things like this don't happen to places like Burnley. We're Burnley, not Barcelona”.
Josh Nicholson
I am a 14 year season ticket holder at Burnley. Have played football all my life and have worked as a Sports Editor on Newcastle University's Courier Newspaper. Recently I worked at Burnley FC for a week in the media department and study MA Multimedia Journalism at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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