Live Your Dreams

Last updated : 10 April 2009 By Richard Oldroyd
Not one of the souls who were there that night will have forgotten their pride at the performance of Owen Coyle's Burnley team, nor the gut-wrenching emptiness of the final denouement. None of us ever will.

No doubt the players who gave everything have not forgotten it either, but they have done a damn good job of putting it to the back of their minds. Thirteen league games have been played subsequently, and only two have been lost whilst 26 points have been garnered.

It is an achievement which demonstrates again the strength of character within the squad. And it means that when they step out on to Turf Moor on Saturday, they will do so with a place in the play-offs theirs for the taking.

More than anything else, it deserves the acclaim of the town and every supporter of Burnley Football Club - and for that reason, I hope Saturday's match and each subsequent home match is played in front of crowds as big as that which witnessed that remarkable night against Spurs.

It is easy for me to say. My season ticket will go unused this weekend, with the annual Easter family holiday - this year in France - proving something of a logistical nuisance. It didn't seem a problem last September, with a 0-0 draw against nine men at Crystal Palace still fresh in the mind. After so many years out of the habit, I'd forgotten all about the significance of Easter weekend matches. I'd forgotten all about the torture of locating a decent 5-live radio signal on a portable radio 9 years ago in Shropshire as Burnley marched to a 4-0 lead against Millwall before contriving to cling on for a 4-3 victory whilst I received quizzical looks in Ludlow High Street. I'd forgotten sitting in a garden in South Wales making conversation whilst Stan Ternent's dreams unravelled when Wolves came to town in 2002.

And so at a quarter to three this Saturday, I shall probably be attempting to find the Nantes' branch of Rosie O'Grady's in order to watch events unfold on Sky Sports News instead of experiencing the roar of a hopeful Turf Moor.

But if you can get there this Saturday, if you haven't made up your mind yet, you should go. Neither success on Saturday nor a place in the play-offs on the 2nd of May can be guaranteed, but the potential of this team has been obvious since about November - and it will not fall short for lack of desire or togetherness. This team enters Easter weekend with a better chance than any since Orient of realising our ambitions.

Enjoyable though watching football is at any time, it is for times like these that we become hooked on watching football. There is the adrenalin rush on a Saturday morning, the angst and the sometimes unbearable tension before and during the 90 minutes. The crowd becomes louder, more passionate, swept up in the intensity and the consequence of the contest. The cocktail of tension, nervous energy and, hopefully, the exhilaration of victory on the good days are the emotions which football supporters crave.

But more particularly, it is the hope of one day finding ourselves in this position which has fuelled every Burnley supporter for over 20 years. Ever since I first started watching Burnley, at the turn of the 90's, the heart of Burnley Football Club has been a struggle to emerge from the shadow cast by the past by recapturing top-flight status.

Jimmy Mullen - his Claret and Blue Army emerged in 1992
It underpinned the emergence of Jimmy Mullen's Claret and Blue Army in 1992. The same dreams took 40,000 of us to Wembley two years later and brought 20,000 to Turf Moor when Ian Wright signed 6 years after that. Orient was rock bottom; we've been on the long road back ever since.

Along the way, some people have fallen off the wagon. Gates have waned over the past 7 years as people have grown up and apart from Burnley. But even if their interest has become intermittent, these dreams remain their dreams. The supporters who were there at Wembley or when Wrexham arrived in May 1992, or who turned up in February 2000: they remain a part of this great old club.

Because, as I've said in this column many, many times, whilst Burnley Football Club might be a business, a company in the strictest legal sense, it doesn't really work like that. It is comprised of stakeholders - a few bigger and more influential than others by virtue of the funds they are able to supply, the vast majority of us holding small but significant stakes as a result of our support and the money we inject into the club for season tickets, merchandise, the Clarets Mad Youth Foundation or any other means you can think of.

Which means we are all a part of this: Barry Kilby, Brendan Flood, Uncle Tom Cobbly and all.

The interest is there: the gates for that night against Tottenham and against Arsenal before demonstrate that. And I believe, as I always have, that there are Burnley supporters out there who would file towards Turf Moor at 10 to 3 on a Saturday afternoon in April if the team were in contention.

The middle of an economic downturn is hardly the best time to test that theory and although there were under 14,000 at Turf Moor a month ago for the visit of Nottingham Forest, that was probably around 2,000 more than would have turned out for dead rubber. But there are three home games left - three absolutely enormous encounters - and it should cost you 30 quid to see the lot.

We have a chance. We have to scramble up one last slope to reach the summit which Jimmy Mullen's Claret and Blue Army began to conquer 18 years ago. If we don't make it - and of course there are perhaps 5 other clubs which have reason to believe it might be their year - it may be some time before it comes into view again.

But there it is now, in sharp focus. For every person who has ever dreamed of watching Burnley Football Club, our Football Club, in the top flight of English football, it is time to live out the final weeks of a season which might, just might, make those dreams a reality.

Oh, and could somebody send me score updates please?