It’s Wednesday and only now do I feel emotionally stable enough to write about the game, writes Jamie Smith.
I don’t think a goal has ever knocked me sideways as much as David Dunn’s equaliser did on Sunday afternoon.
The clock hasn’t moved as slowly during a Burnley game since Wembley, but that time the result was never really in doubt after Wade Elliott’s stunning goal and it was the opposition who were playing with ten.
At about 2:15 pm on Sunday, it really looked like we were going to do it. We’d made some sensible substitutes to try and protect the lead and we were doing so fairly comfortably. Lee Grant wasn’t tested in goal.
By 2:20 pm, Burnley fans all over the world – 4,000 of them at Ewood Park, thousands more of them glued to radios at home or in the pub, hundreds of them around the world joining the NNN live blog – could barely take it any more.
By 2:25 pm, some of us were daring to dream that we’d done it. 34 years and finally, finally, FINALLY we’d beaten them.
And a minute later David Dunn, so offside he was barely on the pitch, thumped in the leveller.
Even typing out the words is painful four days on.
That was that.
Another game, another year, another number to add to the record.
Before the game, I wrote we might never have a better chance to beat them. I can only hope I’m proven wrong in the next couple of years. Burnley, as a club, is a shining light of how to be run when compared with the shambles down the M65. Rovers are dropping like a stone and could easily go down again this year after sacking Michael Appleton.
There’s no doubting we were robbed.
While Ben Mee can have no arguments with his red card, Rovers too should have been down to ten with Grant Hanley lucky to complete the 100 minutes. Add to that Charlie Austin’s wrongly disallowed header at 1-0 and we should rightfully have been cruising, taunting Rovers in their own back yard, enjoying the day, sending the buggers home in tears. After Dunn’s goal came with him at least three yards offside, it’s enough to make you wonder if the man upstairs, if there is one, is wearing a blue and white scarf.
But there’s no point going on about refereeing mistakes. These things happen and I’m sure we wouldn’t care if a spawny last-minute goal that shouldn’t have counted had rescued us a point against their ten men. We can’t change anything after the event, so we have to move on.
Never has a draw felt more like a defeat. The point took Burnley back into the top half, not that it matters now. With our play-off challenge realistically over weeks ago, most of us would probably trade half a dozen league places at least for a win against Rovers.
There’s pride at besting Rovers over the course of the two matches, but a pair of 1-1 draws is scant reward for what we deserved. Dropped points has been the story of our season. We should be much higher in the table with two wins over them in our back pocket, that record a forgotten relic of their Jack Walker-funded era. We should, but we’re not. Lessons to be learned for next season – we must make the most of our dominance.
There’s pride at a gigantic performance, a colossal performance, a performance so huge it needs a new word inventing – a GARGANTUNORMOUS performance from Jason Shackell – who headed everything Rovers threw at him, even muscling the kitchen sink out for a throw during injury time. At the other end, the skipper wrote his name in the history books with his goal, the result of a beautifully timed one-two with the post, to become one of only a few Clarets to have scored at Ewood Park in recent memory. Micah Hyde, Robbie Blake, Chris Eagles and Jason Shackell. That’s it since many of us young pups were born.
There’s pride at the fact the vast majority of Burnley fans behaved themselves despite typically heavy-handed policing and ludicrous enforced travel arrangements, despite the actions of a few spoiling the reputations of the many, despite the over-the-top celebrations of Dunn right in their faces, despite the clown of a Rovers staff member replaying the equaliser endlessly on the big screen as our lot waited to be allowed to go home to drown their sorrows.
But there’s mainly disappointment.
Two weeks of an international break is always a long time without a Burnley game to look forward to, but it feels even longer with only the Rovers game to reflect on, along with the destructive behaviour of the few Clarets fans who let themselves, as well as the rest of us, down on the day. Two weeks of moping, of thinking ‘what if?’, of being annoyed at the bloody assistant referee who couldn’t spot that Dunn’s massive backside – bigger than my widescreen telly – was well ahead of the play, practically in another postcode eating its own bucket of fried chicken. But there’s no point complaining about it now.
What’s done is done (is Dunn).
We’ll just have to get the Bastards next time.
Disappointment or pride – which emotion is dominant for you? Comment below.