Eight Years Can Change So Much in Football

Last updated : 23 April 2008 By Martyn Biddulph
Glen Little
Glen Little celebrates his promotion clinching goal at Scunthorpe
Just 13 years previously the club had been on the brink of falling out of the Football League altogether. However, on a sunny day in Scunthorpe, Burnley clinched a dramatic promotion with a 2-1 victory.

Today, the stadium, the town and the supporters are the same. However, we see a far different feeling in the town from that of eight years ago. The Burnley Football Club we see today is a far different prospect from that at the turn of the millennium. As Burnley began their First Division campaign with an away tie at Bolton Wanderers, a whole new era was born.

Fast forward to today and as we approach the close of Burnley's eighth season in the 'Championship', I thought it would be apt to look back on what has happened to Burnley Football Club since that fateful summer's day at Glanford Park in 2000, compared to what we see today. Only Preston North End have equalled Burnley's stay in the Championship since 2000 as the club has developed vastly since promotion.

Three managers have controlled the club in this time, from Stan Ternent to Steve Cotterill and to the reign of Owen Coyle we see today. In this time the club has flirted with the Championship play-off positions and also played dangerously close to the relegation places. However, through all this the fans have stayed faithful and helped move the club towards what we see today.

Stan Ternent will forever be remembered as the man that hauled Burnley up from the dark season of Chris Waddle's management and with a mix of experience and youth led Burnley back into the First Division. However, as can so often be seen with teams from the third tier, Burnley under Ternent did not have enough about them to win promotion again. Despite several successful seasons under his tutelage it was decided Ternent had led the club as far as he could.

Ternent's successor Steve Cotterill arrived with the label 'Best Young Manager outside the Premiership'. This tag proved a lot to live up to and Cotterill eventually departed early in this season, despite being the longest serving manager in the Coca-Cola Championship.

As Owen Coyle took charge, Burnley were in a steady position in the Championship. I believe it is quite fitting to see that despite the fact that Burnley are in a comfortable Championship position, many fans still believe we should be stronger and pushing for promotion.

We can put into perspective the fact that just eight years ago Burnley were the new men in the Championship facing the prospect of relegation straight back to the Second Division. Since that point, even through the harshest financial constraints the club has battled on and managed to once again achieve our place in the Championship for next season.

Despite this, the pressure will once again be on the Clarets next season, from the supporters more than anyone else. A realistic supporter may see next season as the chance for Owen Coyle to assemble his own squad and hopefully lead the Clarets into 'A New Dawn' as the stadium and his squad develop together. However, we may choose an optimistic approach and feel that Burnley may take a risk next season and push for promotion to the Premiership.

Whatever view we choose to take, I believe the club has progressed dramatically over the past eight years despite spending the majority of the time 'punching above our own weight' in that time. Whatever the future holds standards and expectation levels will rise. All we can do is continue to offer our support and pray that Owen Coyle's Championship free flowing, attacking style of play will offer us a brighter future. All we can say is the club and supporters can approach this new dawn with optimism and pride at being a Claret come what may and maybe eight years from now we can look back and see Burnley comfortably holding a place in the Premier League.