Last season, which culminated in the euphoria of victory in the play-off final, was magnificent but it will be no surprise, to even the most optimistic of supporters, that the challenges will now become even tougher. Each and every victory will be one to savour, but some will mean more than others as we pit our wits against several teams that we have not played against competitively for many seasons, and some against which we have not won a game in several decades.
There are certainly some old scores to settle amongst the thirty-eight dates with destiny that we will experience over the next nine months. Any Burnley fan under the age of 30 would not even have been born on the last occasion, that we managed a proper competitive win, home or away, against six of our nineteen opponents for the forthcoming season, as the table below shows:
|Opposition||Last Game||Last Win||Years Since Last Win||Games Without A Win|
|West Ham United||05/04/2005||09/09/1978||30.9||9|
Notes: All League, FA Cup & League Cup games have been considered. Two-legged ties are counted as two separate games, and cup replays are also counted as separate games. A game settled by penalties is still considered a draw, regardless of which team won the shoot-out.
Burnley's excellent cup pedigree, during the nine season spell in the Championship, provided some big scalps in recent seasons. It is to the club's credit that we can boast of wins against the likes of Liverpool in the FA Cup, as well as Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur in the Carling Cup, all at the most recent attempt, even though the last of these ended in disappointment with a cruel defeat on aggregate. We also remember with pride the excellent Carling Cup wins against the likes of Arsenal and Aston Villa. Furthermore, it is not too long since we went head to head with some of the current crop of Premier League teams, with wins in the second tier against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic on the last occasions that we played them. Burnley has also savoured victory against the likes of the city teams from Stoke, Hull and Birmingham within very recent memory.
The fact they they have remained in the top division for so long, and have avoided us in cup competitions means that prior to this season, Burnley has not played a competitive game against Everton since a victory in January 1976, one of the high spots of a season that would ultimately end in relegation from the old First Division. More than three decades on, we are ready to stand toe to toe with them once again. Although we knocked them out of the Carling Cup at Stamford Bridge last season, any game that is settled on penalties is still technically a draw according to the record books, so we have to go back to 1983 for our most recent victory against Chelsea.
But what of the rest? It is over twenty years and seven games since we beat Bolton Wanderers, and our biggest rivals of all Blackburn Rovers, as they love to remind us, have a six game unbeaten streak that has spanned over thirty years. An end to that particular run is surely foremost in the minds of most Clarets fans as the team embarks on the current season. However, it should be pointed out that the last time the teams met in the top division, a New Year's Day victory for Burnley at Ewood Park in 1966, is almost seventeen years prior to the start of Rover's current purple patch against us.
Portsmouth and West Ham United appear to have had the Indian sign over us, both having benefitted from nine game winning streaks, lasting well over a quarter of a century. Maybe the trips this season to Fratton Park and the Boleyn Ground might reverse the trend, or if not then perhaps we can use home advantage to stop the rot?
The three longest runs of all, in terms of games played, feature Sunderland who remain undefeated against us for ten games that span over thirty years, as well as the two Manchester teams - City, who can boast ten games spanning almost thirty-five years, and United who have a seventeen game streak that has lasted for over forty years.
What a delight it is, then, that just two games into the Burnley's inaugural Premier League campaign we have already put an end to the longest run in the list, both in terms of length of time and number of games. The famous victory against Manchester United, in our first home game in the Premier League, was certainly a worthy way to end that particular hoodoo.
I, for one, am looking forward to Burnley ending several more of these runs before the season ends on 9th May 2010.