Honours even at Pride Park

Robbie Blake - first goal for the Clarets
My first visit there was back in 1969, on the opening day of the season after Brian Clough had brought the Rams back into the First Division. We got a point that day in a goalless draw but ended the game with full back Les Latcham in goal after Peter Mellor had gone off injured.

We only ever got one more point there, from a 2-2 draw in the 1984/85 season, when a Kevin Hird free kick was ridiculously disallowed and robbed us of a win. Apart from that there were defeats and some of them heavy.

A 5-1 defeat on a black pitch without a blade of grass in 1974, a 3-0 defeat two years later and on our last ever visit there a 4-0 hammering as Jimmy Mullen’s Burnley headed towards relegation.

So a change of venue we hoped would bring us a change of luck, and by the time we played a league game at Pride Park we’d already been there and won an FA Cup game so there were hopes the new ground might just be a bit luckier.

You wouldn’t have thought so though the way we started. We’d just drawn at home to Crystal Palace the week before, our first point from the first five games of the season, and another defeat looked on the cards when Marlon Beresford conceded a goal after just eight minutes on his first appearance after returning to the club. Adam Bolder, who scored Derby’s winner a couple of weeks ago, got the goal and we were just as inept as we’d been in the previous games.

It all changed in the second half when Glen Little, who had been left out of the starting line up, came on at half time for Lenny Johnrose. He immediately started to link up well with Robbie Blake who was just about to play well in Burnley colours for the first time.

Within ten minutes of the restart we had turned the game on its head. Blake tormented them and had fired one warning shot before being brought down in the box. Even flood warden Hall saw it as a penalty and he got up to fire home his first Burnley goal.

Just minutes later he received the ball from Little out on the right and after beating two men his cross caused chaos. Thankfully it fell to Derby defender Warren Barton who duly obliged with an own goal.

Burnley celebrate Warren Barton's own goal
That was it for Derby, they never looked like getting back into the game and our first league visit, like our cup visit, had ended in a richly deserved win.

We’ve not had it quite so lucky since unfortunately and a year later we turned in a shocking performance as Derby won 2-0, and could have won far more convincingly. Both Little and Blake had been out of the side but both were restored to the starting line up, neither though looked able to lift us as we turned in a display that had relegation stamped all over it.

The opening goal was almost farcical. David May led his defenders forward to play Lee Morris offside. Out they all came with one exception, Dean West. Morris went through to score and it led to a massive argument in the penalty box as May pointed more than an accusing finger at Fred.

Only Brian Jensen kept the scored down and it looked as though we were going to get away with a 1-0 win until stoppage time when things went from bad to worse. Arthur Gnohere’s crown slipped as he was sent off from bringing down Danny Dichio in the centre circle and from the free kick, Morris broke, blatantly dived, and Uriah Rennie awarded a spot kick which was converted to complete the scoring.

How bad was it? Don’t take my word for it, after the game manager Stan Ternent said, “It was shit and something needs to be done.”

After surviving an early scare last season when Derby had a goal disallowed we looked all set to take the three points after Jean-Louis Valois gave us a first half lead with a superbly taken free kick.

We hadn’t started too well but Gary Cahill and Michael Duff were in inspired form in the centre of defence in the absence of Frank Sinclair and John McGreal both injured. However, by the time of Valois’ goal just over the half hour we had got well on top.

That continued in the second half but it all changed on the hour when George Burley introduced Mr Karren Brady. He tormented us and eventually grabbed an equaliser that had hardly looked likely until his introduction. It left us battling to save a point but we did and those two in the centre of the defence were superb with Michael Duff man of the match.

So one win, one draw and one defeat at Pride Park in the league – now we go there again in the worst form we’ve been in for just over two years, we could do with repeating that early success.