Burnley revive old glories

Burnley are back

Alistair Campbell's Burnley can stand proudly alongside Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and, much, much more importantly, Blackburn. Back where they used to belong.

The days of Jimmy McIlroy and Leighton James. When football was different. Europe had barely been invented, let alone the Premier League.

Who could imagine Burnley would muscle their way in among the big city boys, following the example set by Bolton, Wigan and Rovers?

Wade Elliott might not have known it when he curled his 13th-minute winner into the top corner. And it might be a bit harsh on Sheffield United. But English football should welcome the revival of a once-great club.

The Championship play-off final itself is what the FA Cup used to be before top level football became a corporate plaything.

That dreaded C word is still in evidence due to the swathes of empty seats that ring Wembley for a day those who invest such vast sums to guarantee access on every other occasion deem not worthy of their presence.

Let them stay away if they must. They are missing a treat.

Supporters of both clubs basked in the sunshine, baiting each other in good-natured fashion, voicing their backing for the Blades or the Clarets, setting aside the £60million cheque that makes it the most lucrative game of club football anywhere on the planet in favour of more personal reasons to hope for a win.

Sheffield United of course will always be known as the fall guys in the Carlos Tevez saga, their manager Kevin Blackwell the man who could not rescue Leeds from the hell they eventually collapsed into.

All Burnley's baggage comes from much further back. Champions in 1960, established members of England's elite, relegated in 1976. They know how Newcastle feel.

It was the year of Rocky, Jimmy Carter was elected president, Jim Callaghan replaced Harold Wilson as Prime Minister, the start of Labour's slide from power, evoking more present-day thoughts of yesteryear.

Up in the small Lancashire mill town, nestling in the hills that divide their county from the white rose of Yorkshire, it was the start of a decline that almost ended in oblivion, only a last-day victory over Leyton Orient in 1987 keeping them in the Football League at all.

The climb back has been painfully slow at times, hanging around in the second tier so long it is easy to forget that flirtation with disaster.

That static existence came to an end with the arrival of Coyle from St Johnstone in November 2007, such a short time in the life of a football club, yet a space in which so much can be achieved.

A Carling Cup semi-final for a start, incorporating victories over Fulham, Chelsea - at Stamford Bridge of all places, and Arsenal before a Wembley place was cruelly snatched away thanks to two extra-time goals from Tottenham.

A decent FA Cup run, a place in the play-offs. All achieved through neat football. Not Arsene Wenger maybe but definitely no Tony Pulis.

Little wonder Coyle has been elevated to the ranks of potential Celtic manager now Gordon Strachan's first season without the title has triggered his departure from Parkhead.

All those supporters who came down the M6, not far off half the town's population, got their reward after 13 minutes.

The missing corporates may get to see greater finery when Chelsea meet Everton at the weekend. But will they get a story like Elliott's? A former non-league player with Bashley and an honest professional with Bournemouth before heading north for fame if not, by the standards of football's over-inflated wages, fortune.

Elliott's goal was good enough to grace any showpiece occasion. An energetic dart from midfield, a quick look up as the ball broke back to him off Chris McCann, and then a sublime finish, curled into the top corner with Paddy Kenny completely helpless.

Burnley had two chances to seal victory only for that old sweat Robbie Blake to be denied on both occasions.

Yet somehow, despite a succession of penalty appeals that grew louder and the reaction more frustrated, the Blades never looked like cutting through Brian Jensen's guard.

The stupid dismissal of Jamie Ward merely compounded the misery.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkClue: You'll either love them or you'll hate them
News
Howard Marks has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer, he has announced
people
News
newsIf you're India's Narendra Modi, it seems the answer is a pinstripe suit emblazoned with your own name
News
peopleWarning - contains a lot of swearing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project