If ever there was a town that needed a lifting of its collective spirit, then that town is Burnley, ever since its populous were obliged to enter Tier 3 Covid 19 restrictions. Being Burnley, those people inevitably look towards their football team to provide solace.
After a poor start to the season, Monday tea-time’s visit to the Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion therefore added increased pressure on the players to deliver.
Happily they did so – to an extent. A performance which recalled much of the defensive solidity and tireless work ethic to which Burnley fans have become accustomed yielded a clean sheet and the first point of the season.
Unwilling to part with the fifteen quid those cheeky scamps at the Premier League required in order to view a game I was under the impression I had already paid to see, I decided instead to experience the proceedings via the worthy offices of Radio Five Live.
The descriptive skills of radio sports commentators are remarkable for their accuracy, timing and colour. Vicky Sparks aided by Clinton Morrison kept me informed and involved throughout a match that ended in the first goalless draw of this Premier League Season.
It could have been even better had Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes put away chances which fell their way during a second half in which Burnley were demonstrably the better team. That, plus a sprightly return to form for the newly contracted Dwight McNeill, gave cause for a degree of satisfaction.
A word too for Erik Pieters; in the absence of the Covid-stricken Phil Bardsley and the more routinely injured Matt Lowton, he was pressed into service at right back and responded with an assured performance in-keeping with the solid, experienced professional he is.
Should he continue in that role, he may well find himself in direct opposition with a certain Gareth Bale, when Spurs visit Turf Moor next Monday night.
Obviously, the Covid pandemic has required the format of this season to take on an unusual aspect; but it is surely verging on the ridiculous that by the time the clocks go back, Burnley will have played only four league matches and only one at Turf Moor.
Whilst one makes the necessary allowances, there remains a nagging feeling that the Premier League is going out of its way to disrupt and hinder Burnley, especially when one factors in the massively inconvenient kick off times that the Clarets have so far had to endure.
Five thirty on a Monday evening is a backwater, a siding into which Burnley’s fixtures are shunted so as not to interfere with the perceived “glamour matches” which are afforded main-line priority.
If Burnley find themselves relegated at the end of the season, this will not be the main reason why, but the in-balance and injustice is certainly an additional, unnecessary, and unwanted burden.
Dave Thornley reflects on a point earned on the road, Spurs up next, at an empty Turf Moor. (TEC.)