Cardiff – We Are Top Of The League – (Is it May yet?)
Some Things You May Not Know About Burnley:
· Former manager Eddie Howe has returned to AFC Bournemouth to be nearer his ageing father, former Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer Geoffrey.
· In the Beatles 1966 film ‘Help’ Burnley supporters briefly appear in a crowd scene taken from the 1962 Cup Final against Tottenham. *
(Wilfred Bramble who played Paul McCartney’s fictional grandfather in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ is actually the grandfather of Sunderland defender Titus.)
· The first International Black Pudding Throwing Championships were held at Burnley’s ground Turf Moor in 1896. The winner was Apache Indian Chief Himchuck Big Far.
· William Duke of Cambridge met his future Queen, Catherine, at the Edinburgh University Ralph Coates Comb-Over Club.
· They’re not very good.
*TRUE (See Wikipedia ‘Burnley FC – Cultural significance’)
However, to Saturday…
At the start of the game the crowd was introduced to a City fan on the occasion of his 100th birthday. He has been attending games for 92 years. In all that time he’s never seen his team win seven games at home on the bounce. Asked if he was excited at the prospect, he answered ‘about half past eleven’. Strange to think that when I’m introduced to the crowd in similar circumstances we’ll have been in the top flight for almost 50 years.
The line-up was announced and included a welcome first start for our £2.5m South Korean benchwarmer Kim Bo-Kyung as a replacement for the injured Tommy Smith. Noone swapped wings to play on the right and Connolly kept his place, with out of favour McNaughton not even making the squad.
Kim made an immediate if unlikely impact intercepting a ball in defence, finding Noone out wide. As the Burnley defence opened up for him (not for the last time today) he cut in from the right and fired across goal, hitting the inside of the upright. An alert Mason moved in for the kill, well ahead of a static Clarets defence to slot home from 5 yards. Three minutes on the board and already 1-0!
Shortly after, a superb through ball from the imperious Whittingham found Mason who might have done better after placing the ball wide of the keeper but finding the post. The two formed an effective partnership all afternoon and there was to be much greater movement than against Watford as surprisingly Whittingham was allowed to take control of the midfield. Most teams by now are aware that if you stop Whitts you’re in with a shout, but this seemed to have passed Burnley by.
After the early dominance the game settled down and for much of the first half the crowd was fairly subdued. Under the new pricing structure this game had been afforded Bronze status ie. cheaper at the turnstiles, and it was quite apparent why. Although there was a decent crowd in at 21,000 +, less than 800 Burnley fans made the trip and there was a definite lack of an edge to the game.
However, we continued to take advantage of the open spaces with Mason in particular running for fun (at one point the shout went out ‘Run Forrest, run!’) Burnley, with the 18 goal Charlie Austin in attack offered nothing in front of goal as Hudson and Turner comfortably dealt with any potential danger. Helguson had two decent opportunities to increase the lead but the man with a reputation for being spring-heeled seemed to have lead in his boots today, failing to get off the ground with the goal at his mercy.
After 41 minutes Noone collected the ball and was again given the freedom of the park to run at the back-tracking Burnley defence. He twisted one way then the other and shot speculatively from well outside the box. The keeper seemed to have it covered but only succeeded in parrying the ball behind him and over the line. 2-0. As the Fourth Official’s board showed one minute Ali announced ‘And today’s time added on will be a minimum of one minute, brought to you by Pro Supplements’. Yes, that’s right, injury time is now sponsored!
We had every reason to expect the second half to follow a similar pattern to the first, but as Forrest Gump might say ‘Following the City is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.’ As it turned out, although Burnley had more of the game at times they rarely threatened. It looked as though we might struggle to turn our dominance into goals, and although Burnley’s defence were not the most physical, our lack of physical presence going forward meant that apart from the battling Helguson we were never likely to intimidate their back four. On sixty minutes Noone again curled one onto the upright after some tricky work down the wing. Malky decided it was time to try something different and brought on Gestede for Helguson. Although Rudy doesn’t possess the insight of an experienced front man, he does at least go looking for the ball and is prepared to put himself about.
With the ragged Clarets’ defence beginning to tire it was surely only a matter of time before we converted all the pressure into a third goal. When it came on 82 minutes it could not have been simpler. Connolly rose unchallenged inside the box to meet a Whittingham corner to head home.
Man of the Match Noone left to a standing ovation and was replaced by Gunnarsson. Two minutes later the Icelandic Super Sub met a Gestade header to record a second goal in a week and complete the rout.
So, another game, another record – and with Leicester losing at home we sit proudly atop the table by three clear points. We are there on merit and we’ve done it following injuries that in earlier seasons would have meant an inevitable November meltdown. This year is different.
That’s all I have to say about that.
‘Stupid is as stupid does’.