No, Nay, Never

I’ll be at Turf Moor on Sunday for the Lancashire derby between Burnley and a club that have Margaret Thatcher as their honorary president.

The word ‘derby’ is over-used in football but Burnley v Blackburn is a proper local rivalry – one of the most intense in British football.

The Guardian has a look at the match today:

Lancashire was the birthplace of professional football, and the very start of modern football is spiritually set in Blackburn, with Ewood Park hosting internationals as the 19th century drew to its end. Perhaps the mill town of Burnley, standing at a higher elevation, and like Blackburn home to one of the immortal dozen founder members of the Football League, always believed in an innate superiority and so the rivalry was nourished.

There is no perhaps about it.

Only four meaningful meetings in the last 25 years. Hardly a rivalry at all, you might say. Except that at 13.40 on Sunday afternoon, and a more ridiculous time could not be imagined, time past and time present will again entwine.

To misquote TS Eliot: “Footballs echo in the memory” – and for 90 minutes the rivalry will be every bit as intense as it ever was.

It always has been. Even when we were down in the fourth division and rich Rovers were in the top flight, their fans still bothered enough about the rivalry to club together for a plane to fly over Turf Moor for our promotion play-off game.

The plane had a banner hanging from it declaring – ‘Staying Down Forever’.

Burnley fans responded in kind by writing “Twinned with Trelleborg” on roadsigns outside the town in memory of Blackburn’s obscure Swedish conquerors in the UEFA Cup.

To give you a taste here is the traditional derby song we will be singing on Sunday (to the tune of the Wild Rover):

I went to an alehouse I often frequent,
I saw old Mark Hughes his money all spent,
He asked me to play,
I answered him nay,
Rubbish like yours I can beat any day.

And its No Nay Never,
No Ney Never no more,
Till we play b*st*rd rovers,
No Never no more.

Ewoods now empty, its getting knocked down,
They play their home games on a piece of waste ground,
Mark Hughes looks round and says something’s not right,
Cause theres far more players than supporters in sight.

And its No Nay Never,
No Nay Never no more,
Till we play b*st*rd rovers,
No Never no more.

Five years have now passed and Burnley rule supreme,
The league and the cup have been won by our team,
The b*st*rds are bankrupt and long since have died,
And Mark Hughes sweeps up down at Burnley’s Longside.