The streets of Burnley were lined with claret and blue again this week as thousands of townsfolk celebrated Burnley Football Club’s promotion to the Premier League.
Flashback usually looks deeper into the annals of time but I thought Burnley’s return to the Promised Land, for the second time in five years, warranted a glimpse at the club’s triumphal open-top bus parade from 2009.
Then, promotion was secured in far more dramatic circumstances – in the last chance saloon of a play-off final in the imposing cauldron of Wembley Stadium and 80,518 fans.
Popular midfielder Wade Elliott struck the only goal of the game to send the travelling Burnley fan’s into ecstasy.
To this day, Burnley is the smallest town in the country to have a team in the Premier League.
Then manager Owen Coyle remarked that the whole town’s population could fit inside Wembley Stadium.
I was working that day, in Burnley alas and not at Wembley, and the streets were indeed deserted.
The home-coming victory parade, which ended at Burnley Town Hall, was held the day after the final on Tuesday, May 26th.
Only defender Michael Duff remains from the 2009 squad.
The Express of Friday, May 29th, carried a front page picture of the parade and souvenir pull-out.
Prominent fans and former players lined up to pass on their congratulations in the paper.
Perhaps the club’s greatest ever player, Jimmy McIlroy, had travelled to Wembley with teammates from the Clarets’ championship winning squad of 1959-60 including Jimmy Robson, Ray Pointer, Adam Blacklaw, John Connelly, Alex Elder, John Angus, Trevor Meredith and Brian Pilkington.
Then Mayor of Burnley Coun. John Harbour said the victory had created positive headlines for the town.
He added: “It is so nice to see the national spotlight on Burnley in a positive way. I’m grateful to Burnley Football Club for this and for putting a smile on the people’s faces.”
And Burnley MP at the time Kitty Ussher attended the final with her daughter Lizzie. “Words can’t describe it. It’s not really sunk in yet, it’s absolutely wonderful and brilliant for the town.”
She added that then Justice Secretary and Blackburn Rovers supporter Jack Straw had texted his congratulations.