As a football fan, there is little more excruciatingly painful than being unable to watch your favourite team play week-in, week-out, writes our Claret down under Adam Heap.
And as one can imagine, the primary difficulty of being a Burnley fan on the other side of the world is finding ways to watch the team play.
Only last year did I discover that in the United Kingdom there is a 3pm football blackout and it was only this year that I learned of Bob Lord’s role in said blackout. There’s no such blackout in Australia – loss of revenue is no issue in showing us every Premier League game. As someone with strong Manchester City sympathies (and as a lover of exciting football) this is a major benefit. With Fox Sports – our equivalent of Sky – showing every game live via a red button, watching the 20 best teams in England fight it out every week is easy.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t transition down to the Championship quite so well. My understanding is that Sky shows a few games here and there to fit in around its Premier League schedule and Fox Sports imitates that over here, showing around one game a week from the Football League – our next upcoming TV game in Australia is our October home fixture against Blackpool. This has traditionally been the only way to watch live Championship football down under, although this year Setanta Sports are showing three games a week, most of them Championship-level.
The chance of seeing a Burnley game, however, is rare. We seem to be about as loved by cable TV as we do by the Football League Show, the latter of which is my main method of seeing any Claret action from the field. The entirety of the Football League Show is condensed into a half-hour highlights package in Australia and rarely do we feature as the stars of the show. Better than nothing, I guess – barely.
Like anyone else in the modern age, I spend a fair amount of time trawling a few Burnley websites to keep up-to-date with club happenings. The Clarets-Mad forums are bookmarked in my browser, as is the BBC Sport homepage (which I find to be far more professional, reliable and readable than Sky Sports). I recently spent the evening of August 31 and early morning of September 1 on the BBC live blog for transfer deadline day, although Burnley’s inaction on the last day meant my focus was on Manchester City instead.
So now that you know how people from outside the UK are likely to follow their club, it’s important for all you people lucky to live in close enough proximity to Burnley Football Club to understand just how fortunate you are. Understand also that I don’t begrudge being born or living in Australia. I love my life down here and wouldn’t trade it for a lifetime of Burnley season tickets.
But there’s little that gets on my nerves like fans claiming that because their club isn’t performing the way they’d like them to, they’re no longer going to attend games as some sort of ‘message’ to that club. I’ve seen Burnley fans say such things and I’m sure it’s happened at many other clubs too. Not only is that message never going to get through to the club, it’s also more detrimental than it is helpful.
Being able to watch your football club – and yes, it is YOUR club – play football once or twice a week is a blessing. As someone who doesn’t have that opportunity regularly, I can only implore you to make the most of any chance you get to go and watch Burnley FC. There are always going to be downs in football; that’s half of what makes football what it is. The other half is the ups and they will come, even if it’s just one game in five, ten or 20.
My dad brought me with him in February 2010 to England. We got tickets to see Burnley play West Ham at Turf Moor in the Premier League and every single one of the 90 minutes of that game are etched on my brain. That’s the first Turf Moor experience I truly remember. For some of you, you will remember that 2-1 victory as just a small speck of light in an otherwise dark half a season. It may be one of hundreds of games you’ve attended at the Turf.
But for me that game was the experience of a lifetime. Sitting in the lower section of the Jimmy McIlroy Stand and watching Danny Fox score his first Burnley goal with a terrific free kick? I couldn’t have asked for much more than that. I’d have been just as happy to go and watch us lose, mind you – just to go and watch Burnley play was fantastic.
I’ve since travelled back in February of both years since and watched a few more games, each as enthralling to me as that first one. There are a lot of things I’d do to be able to go to the Turf every week and enjoy the atmosphere and passion of Burnley Football Club.
Don’t let a game slip by if you have the opportunity. If you watch the Clarets lose week after week you are still lucky enough to have the chance to watch them at all. Take pride in your club and support your team for all the Burnley fans across the globe because trust me, if we could? We’d be there.