All signs point to Burnley's arrival


Many of these giant wall paintings were part of an effort to replace paramilitary murals with those with cultural and sporting themes.

Glentoran's 1960s tour of the US as the Detroit Cougars has been immortalised, as has Northern Ireland's by and large meaningless 1-0 victory over England in 2005.

Some of these murals also conjure memories of past Burnley greats.

The 1958 World Cup team, that featured Jimmy McIlroy, is commemorated on a gable wall in east Belfast.

Even Tommy Cassidy was celebrated in the east of the city on a mural that also featured Danny Blanchflower and George Best. However, following Best's death, Cassidy's face was painted out.

Now, dotted around Belfast are new reminders of the city's link with Burnley, due mainly to the efforts of local soccer school Newbridge AFC.

Newbridge is a youth football club that serves as a centre of excellence for Burnley in Northern Ireland.

Most recently, the east Belfast club sent former youth team goalkeeper Jonathan Sergeant to Burnley.

Ahead of the friendly with Glentoran, Newbridge has taken steps to make its link with the Clarets more obvious, in the form of a new sign.

Up until now, the link between the two clubs has been subtle.

On the side of the team's trailer is an outline drawing of a footballer in a Claret shirt, while paintings at Newbridge's headquarters show children dressed in claret and blue.

Now, an official Youth Development, Burnley Football Club sign is being displayed proudly outside the Newbridge HQ - youth development also being a key aspect of Clarets Mad's fundraising efforts.

When Burnley takes to the field at Glentoran's Oval on July 21, the first time in 11 years, the players can expect support from the Newbridge youngsters.

That Burnley FC's name and logo should be on prominent display is odd in a city that is largely unoriginal in its choice of team to support - Celtic, Rangers, Manchester United and Liverpool.

This, however, is not so much a sign of changing times, but a sign of the continued strong link between the Clarets and the city that has provided the club with so many stars.