Once it hit the net I went numb, it’s just complete elation, ” says Blake. The former midfielder, however, continued to repeat that it did not matter because of the result (a 3-2 defeat). The return fixture in the 2009-10 season saw more incidents that resulted in arrests as Blackburn fans smashed toilets and ripped out seats in the away end while some Burnley fans in the Cricket Field stand were arrested for threatening language and behaviour. Glen Little also knows all about the feeling of defeat in this fixture, having been involved in a 5-0 loss at Ewood Park in 2001. “A debacle but they were better than us at that time, ” says Little.
In total, 32 people were arrested and a further 15 over the course of a five-month investigation. The game marked the first derby between the two sides in the Premier League after Burnley’s promotion under Owen Coyle the previous season. Burnley took the lead in the game thanks to a screamer from Robbie Blake, a memorable moment. “To score against your rivals is massive because of that joy you give to people; that roar from the supporters.
Burnley fired back in 1994 following Blackburn’s elimination from the UEFA Cup to semi-professional side Trelleborgs with one supporter visiting all roads leading to Burnley and putting up signs that read, “Twin Town: Trelleborgs”. Both are harmless jibes but often, it can go too far. Following a 2-0 defeat at Turf Moor in 2000, Burnley supporters were reported to have caused havoc and damage in their own town. Twelve Burnley fans from the hooligan firm nicknamed “Suicide Squad” were arrested and jailed collectively for a total of 32 years after violence outside The Station pub in Blackburn in 2009. One of the ringleaders, Andrew Porter, missed the confrontation because his taxi driver, confused, took him to the train station in town rather than the pub.
Occasionally, conflict occurred in the early years with theories ranging from Blackburn complaining to the FA that Burnley had too many Scottish players to Blackburn winning a big cotton contract ahead of Burnley. Any way to gain the upper hand is taken. When Burnley’s pursuit of promotion from the fourth division in 1991 was ended in the play-offs by Torquay, a banner was flown over the stadium reading “Staying down 4 ever, luv Rovers ha ha ha”.
It was the 27th minute of a second-round Carabao Cup tie between Burnley and Blackburn and Jack Cork and his team-mates were celebrating the opening goal. A moment of joy quickly turned into an ugly incident as a pitch invader shoved defender James Tarkowski in the chest before grabbing Ashley Westwood by the throat. Charlie Mulgrew (second left) grabs a Blackburn fan after he confronted the Burnley players (Photo: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)It is an insight into the aggression and anger this rivalry brings out in people. The Athletic experienced it first hand themselves when queuing for a bus following Burnley’s 1-1 draw with Stoke this season.
A fixture that needs no extra spice has it. “In football, there are only a few that win trophies. Trophies are for a very select group of people so our trophies are these types of games, ” Kompany said. “If I want to give this derby the place it deserves, you’ll hear no compliments from my side about the rivals. ”“Bring on the Bastards! ”As the clock has ticked towards 90 minutes during Burnley games this season, the war cry has sounded — a warning to their neighbours as the days count down to the match everyone has been waiting for.
It was an eye-opener, you realise how big this actually is, ” says Duff. He was not the only pitch invader that day. One fan made his way onto the pitch at half-time while the other did so during the game without any clothes on. They weren’t the only incidents — Burnley’s Jean Louis Valois was targeted with coins. There has always been a rivalry but hostilities between fans back then did not compare to more recent times.
“You knew as soon as you arrived at the club that it was the one fixture that meant everything to the fans. The rivalry is so fierce and so intense you have to be involved to properly understand, ” says former midfielder Dean Marney. To understand more, look no further than Kevin Ball’s challenge in 2000 in what was the first derby for 17 years. If you thought this was a football game, think again. Full-blooded and aggressive, David Dunn did not know what had hit him. Ball channelled every Burnley fan’s feelings and put it all into that one tackle, if you can call it that, as he dived in high and got none of the ball. “On the night, my son said: ‘I thought you got the ball, Dad’.
Inside England's oldest rivalry: Cotton contracts, Owen Coyle masks and bus escorts“I’ve always lived for rivalries. “Vincent Kompany did not mince his words following Burnley’s Carabao Cup victory over Crawley Town. Attention had already turned to Sunday and Turf Moor for the showdown between his team and their arch-rivals Blackburn Rovers. From the moment Kompany accepted the job, he quickly became aware of the importance of beating the enemy.
Reports say Burnley fans accessed the roof of Ewood and threw tiles off of it. It has not stopped. “It’s not rivalry, it’s pure hatred now., ” says Tony Scholes, communications officer for Burnley FC Supporters Group. “I don’t really know why it has gone this way but I think it festered for too long and they had the upper hand so the jibes continued. “The lack of playing them strengthened the divide and made it more hostile. There’s been hostility since the derby began but it has just got bigger and bigger to the point where blockades are needed and fans can’t be trusted to walk down the same street together. ” Burnley fans arrive before the Carabao Cup Second Round match against Blackburn Rovers in 2017 (Photo: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)The lack of fixtures demonstrates the contrasting fortunes of the two sides.
My wife felt I should have been arrested for it, ” Ball said in an interview years later. “At the time, it’s the competitive edge in myself coming out, and I love it. ”He became the hero to Burnley fans and a villain to Blackburn. Dunn, who had a brief spell at Burnley as a youngster, was the man the home fans wanted on the receiving end. It seems strange that one of the most hostile rivalries in English football has only happened 13 times since a 2-1 Blackburn victory in 1983. There was crowd trouble in 1983 with the match halted at one stage and a double-ended spiked weapon being thrown and landing next to Blackburn goalkeeper Terry Gennoe.
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“I remember the gaffer (Stan Ternent) after the game saying if you’re in a mini against a Ferrari you’ve not got much chance. It hurts and I still have nightmares about it. I hope the current players have a better experience than I did. ”George Boyd remembers watching the 5-0 defeat and after joining Burnley in 2014, experienced the fixture first-hand the following season after relegation to the Championship. Duff, Boyd remembers, was instrumental in helping new players understand what the rivalry meant throughout his time at the club.
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