ACCORDING to a survey, the first Saturday of August is the happiest time of the year for most Britons.
But while there were a lot of happy moments at Turf Moor, the over-riding emotion was frustration.
A study for the Nectar group of 9,000 people discovered that they enjoyed Saturdays the most, and listed August as their favourite month of the year.
August appeals to Britons because it is the time of year when summer is supposedly at its warmest, it is the start of the holidays, and most people look forward to enjoying longer evenings with friends and family.
The start of the football season is also a cause for happiness for millions across the country, with the usual optimism and excitement in following your club.
The day started with feelings of immense pride, as Jimmy McIlroy collected his MBE in a special investiture on the pitch. The 79-year-old collected his gong for services to football and charity in the Queen’s New Year Honours list, and there was real emotion in his voice as he thanked the fans for treating him as an “adopted son.”
Pride turned to disbelief as Watford plundered a two-goal lead against the run of play, and while there was happiness and relief at clawing a way back into the game, everyone of a Claret persuasion – including boss Eddie Howe – left frustrated that their side had to graft as hard as they did to dig out a point against a team you would expect to be in the bottom half of the table at the end of the season.
Burnley took more points from losing positions than any side in the Championship last season, while Watford lost more from winning positions.
So it was almost a case of ‘as you were’, even with new personnel on board.
Howe gave debuts to loan signings Ben Mee and Kieran Trippier, while new skipper Chris McCann and Martin Paterson started together for first time since September 2009, when a 3-1 win against Sunderland sent the Clarets eighth in the Premier League.
Keith Treacy started on the bench as he looks for full fitness after a pre-season punctuated by international duty, an illness and his move from Preston – but what an impact he made when he was called into action.
With both sides lining up 4-4-2, a scrappy start was littered with poor touches and fouls.
Watford tried to stop Burnley playing out from the back, with Ross Jenkins closing down the deepest lying midfielder as the centre backs split, and the full backs got high and wide.
However, the Clarets dominated possession and, while their passing lacked the zip that will come in time, they moved the ball about patiently and accurately, without working Scott Loach in the Hornets’ goal.
Wade Ellliott floated over a wicked free kick that only required a touch off friend or foe, before Dean Marney sent a half volley over the angle.
At the other end, Marvin Sordell should have done better with his final pass as a two on one situation developed, but Burnley broke, and Ross Walllace saw a fierce shot blocked, before, from the subsequent corner, Jay Rodriguez flicked the ball wide from a Wallace centre.
Elliott’s cross was plucked off Paterson’s head by Loach, and Paterson forced a save after cutting inside the area from Elliott’s pass, either side of the outstanding Mee crowding out the returning Chris Iwelumo as he looked to shoot.
As quality delivery continued from the flanks, Rodriguez guided Trippier’s cross wide of the far post, but Sordell snatched at a chance and turned it wide after Iwelumo rolled Mee.
Loach was lucky to avoid a booking after bringing down Rodriguez just outside the box – not the only time erratic referee Mark Brown baffled the home support.
But Watford stunned Turf Moor on half-time as Sordell, who moments earlier forced a fine reaction save from Lee Grant, timed his run to perfection to break away down the right, and showed the presence of mind to pick out debutant Craig Forsyth, who headed home.
Paterson was withdrawn at the break, not feeling 100% in himself, with Charlie Austin coming on in his place.
Mark Yeates should have seen yellow for an awful challenge on Elliott, but the Clarets wideman did him a favour and was quick to his feet.
Andre Amougou wasn’t given the same leniency for a something and nothing foul on Sordell moments later as he was booked.
Burnley kept knocking on the door as Austin sent a delightful Trippier cross wide, and Trippier was called into defensive action to head John Eustace’s header away from off the line.
Rodriguez had two sighters, firing wide after a surging run from the ever-willing Fox, before sending an effort over after an interchange with Wallace.
Treacy came on for Elliott midway through the half and had an immediate impact as he had a shot spilled by Loach, but with 20 minutes to play, Mee got a toe on the ball as Sordell ran at him, and it ran fortuitously for Yeates to slot home his third goal in three games against Burnley.
The Clarets were desperate for a foothold, and when Wallace fed Treacy, his left-foot shot ricocheted in off Austin, who was happy to accept any fortune for his first goal for the club. Treacy continued to make things happen, as he had a shot saved by Loach, and with six minutes remaining, the Dubliner ghosted in at the back post to head in Wallace’s superb cross.
A winner was asking too much, but despite the frustration at failing to get up and running, there were enough encouraging aspects ahead of a busy week.