Burnley 1 Liverpool, a night to remember for all Evertonians
BY CLARET DAVE THOMAS

     I have a soft spot for all things Evertonian even though I’m a Claret living in Leeds. My Uncle Arthur from Earlestown now in his 80s is an Evertonian through and through and actually had trials there as a player in the late 30s and then along came the war and that ended that. My nephew Andy from Warrington is a Blue but is married to a Red.  And didn’t Burnley supply Everton with Tommy Lawton, Trevor Steven, Geoff Nulty and Martin Dobson. Then by a roundabout route along came the other Dave Thomas, no relation to me, but who by coincidence I do happen to know. Mind you my soft spot hardens a bit when I remember the broken leg Willie Irvine suffered in a cup replay at Goodison in February 67 when that legendary hard man Johnny Morrissey hit Willie’s leg instead of the ball. 
      Anyway, I thought you true blues would all love to read about the night Liverpool fell apart at Turf Moor because they thought they could just turn up with a couple of first teamers and a few bit part players and casually walk away with a result. Fraid not Mr. Benitez.


     Basically, Mr Beneathus totally misjudged what it would be like to come to a small, compact but passionate stadium, where the small but totally dedicated squad, some of whom play for two bob, and the others for peanuts, outplayed them from start to finish. How Mr. Benitez quite came to the conclusion that Liverpool after the first few minutes then controlled the game is quite beyond me. But then he had to say something I suppose to salvage some pride.


     Liverpool frankly were poor, dispirited, disinterested, and eventually easily dispelled. I guess you’ve heard the joke that does the rounds at Burnley now, it probably came from one of you guys in the first place but “what’s the difference between Liverpool and a teabag. Well, a teabag stays in the cup longer.”


     The game that took place came several days after the postponed first date. We all made the assumption that Gerard who was chosen not to play on the first date, would actually come in for the rearranged game, after they lost at home to Man U. Not so, big mistake Benitez. Likewise not playing Baros from the start. The only time Liverpool displayed any interest was when he came on, but luckily Baros does tend to run into blind alleys or off the pitch when he can’t stop himself, or runs with his head down and doesn’t see a pass that he could make to a colleague in a good position. Hypia spent the evening generally playing superb long passes but sadly for him usually straight over the touchline. Pongo had a few runs but more often than not the aforementioned long passes were intended for him and sailed over his head. Biscan was dreadful, what on earth is he paid per week and Nunez would struggle to get into the Burnley reserve team.


     Liverpool certainly cannot blame the Burnley pitch, which is nowhere near as infamous as the press would like to make out. The ball, rolled sweetly whether it was on the grass or the sandy middle and at the end of the day the pitch is the same for both sides. Truth is the game could have been played on the first date when soggy turf and a bit of standing water in just one small patch was the problem, but the ref bottled it. This was a pitch that any side of the 60s would have classed as ‘good’ and the 70s pitches weren’t that much better. I guess we can all remember the mud baths of the 60s.


     So the Mrs and I sat in the car prior to the game eating bacon sandwiches and wondering if Liverpool would just roll us over with casual ease and premiership class. No danger, I can’t tell you how poor they were and if I were one of the travelling Liverpool 3,800 that night I’d have been on the phone in the morning to tell them they were rubbish in fact I’m told that as they came the field at the end they were told in no uncertain terms just how pathetic they had been. We’ve seen some poor teams at The Turf over the years but Liverpool, whilst not the worst (have you ever watched Stockport), were just so anonymous it wasn’t true.


     And the goal; none of us have seen anything so comic ever. Under minimal pressure, somehow Traiore got in such a tangle, sort of half turned, sort of performed a drag-back as he turned, sort of did it all in slow motion and then none of us could believe it as we watched the ball trickle over the line. And then from that point, though we lived on our nerves the result was never in doubt. It wasn’t nerves because Liverpool pressed, or came back into the game, or looked threatening; it was nerves because we are conditioned at Burnley to be nervous the minute we take the lead.
     And the best bit, well don’t let any Liverpool supporter tell you Liverpool were unlucky. Not a bit of it and such was Claret superiority there was even a bit of keep-ball showboating in the last ten minutes just to rub it in with the obligatory ole’s.


So how does it feel at Everton to be above them in the league after all these years of looking up? My uncle and nephew have to pinch themselves. I’ll hazard a guess that you’ll stay above them for quite a while if this is the Benitez revolution. Liverpool fans must despair, first a Frenchman who filled the team with substandard Frenchmen and Africans and now a Spaniard filling it with mediocre Spaniards.


     Be funny if we play you eventually in a forthcoming round, I’m writing this on January 22nd. Be warned, if the game is at the Turf we don’t make life easy but I somehow doubt that Moyes would make the same mistake as Benitez.   


Dave Thomas