An unbeaten derby decade: Dan Black on Burnley finally ending their Rovers hoodoo
Remember the date, 9 March, 2014. Treasure it, savour it and store that episodic memory indelibly in the mind. Nobody can touch it. Nobody can take it away.
Remember the unison of 4,500-plus fans housed within the Bryan Douglas Darwen End. Remember reactions and celebrations. Remember the joy and elation shared by supporters, players and staff alike.
Remember captain Jason Shackell’s primal scream and the despondency on the faces of the opposition. Remember how that triumph made us more than just record-breakers. It embodied our progression, ambition and just how together we are as a club.
It was a moment that ranked among our two Wembley visits, that night at Stamford Bridge, the Carling Cup semi-final tie with Spurs, and an unprecedented triumph over Manchester United. It was a reward for our patience, our perseverance, our endeavour. It was a privilege to witness such a comeback, not just in terms of the result, but in the fortunes of the respective clubs.
And now, Rovers' only hold over Burnley - that had stretched close to 35 years - has gone up in smoke.
Which antiquated claims of superiority will be regurgitated by those at Ewood Park now? Premier League champions of 1995; who cares? We’ve been champions of England twice and we didn’t buy it once.
The performance at Turf Moor earlier in the season suggested that the margins were tightening, but now that tangible string of hope which Rovers had been desperately clinging on to has finally frayed.
The East Lancashire rivalry has seen a reverse and Rovers have been usurped.
For a club that was just a single game from oblivion in 1987, competing against neighbours who would go on to enjoy a lucrative two-decade spree of splashing the cash courtesy of Jack Walker’s riches; it’s a phenomenal achievement.
That dominance has been dented so vehemently by those just 15 miles down the M65 – ever since the club inherited the fortune to make £5million striker Chris Sutton the first £10,000 a week footballer.
But those halcyon days, where Rovers were once cast in Burnley’s overbearing shadow, could be set to return at long last. A huge gulf separated the clubs when the Clarets returned to England’s top tier as Second Division champions in 1973, with Rovers glued to the hierarchy’s Third Division following relegation in 1971.
That’s where folklore suggests the song ‘No Nay Never’ was reappropriated by Burnley fans.
And that historic expression could soon have renewed meaning in the current clime.
Talk of a return to the Premier League could still be premature. But promotion could postpone one of the country’s fiercest and most passionate derbies for some period.
Or at least negate that competitive edge. This group has shown no fear and, Michael Duff aside, they don’t know how it feels to lose a derby. That has enhanced the trepidation down the road.
While Burnley’s books are balanced, although promotion would rocket the numbers well into the black; the accounts at Ewood are seemingly less assured, hence Rovers' managing director Derek Shaw has slammed the Football League’s Financial Fair Play rulings. The club had gambled on making a Premier League return and that is not going to happen.
The accounts revealed a £36.5million loss for last season and it is highly unlikely that the club will cut its losses to the necessary £8million limit for this term that the FFP guidelines specify.
A failure to do so could result in a transfer embargo that would come into force in January 2015.
That could spell the sales of £8million leading scorer Jordan Rhodes, who cost nearly three times the amount of Burnley’s starting XI at the weekend, as well as skipper Grant Hanley. They either sell to survive or face the consequent penalties.
For the Clarets, however, it’s now four years since they last endured defeat to their arch nemesis, while the 23-point gap manifests the significant shift between the two.
Memories of the 5-0 loss in April 2001, the FA Cup defeat, Martin Olsson’s dive in the Premier game, David Dunn’s controversial leveller last term, and Rhodes' fortuitous equaliser at Turf Moor earlier this season have been eradicated.
It’s all about the here. It’s all about the now. No Nay Never.