"You had to be there" - Burnley and Helmond fans alike revel in latest show of mutual bond

In the end, the result didn't matter too much. Sure, Helmond Sport lost 4-0 at home - their heaviest defeat of the season - to confirm their relegation from the Keuken Kampioen Divisie, but that weekend was about much more than football.

Tuesday, 21st May 2019, 5:22 pm
The Burnley FC and Helmond Sport fans face off in a friendly match at the Stadion de Braak.

Extolling the virtues of brotherhood, shared values, and friendship, fans of both Burnley FC and Helmond Sport will remember the weekend as one defined by the special bond between the clubs' supporter-bases despite the less-than-stellar showing on the pitch as almost 90 Clarets dusted off their passports for the cross-Channel jaunt to the home of Burnley FC's closest continental comrades.

In continuation of the ever-growing tradition of mutual support between Burnley and Helmond - a tradition kick-started by the late Burnley-born expat, Darran Wooller, who moved to Helmond at the age of 20 back in the early '80s and grew to love Helmond Sport - the Burnley fans were in Southern Holland for Helmond's game against TOP Oss at the Stadion de Braak.

And despite the damp squib of a scoreline, spirits amongst both sets of fans remained high.

The players in action.

"Where do I start?" said Ian Chapman, who has organised various meetings between the two fan-bases in the past. "It all went really well and I can't express my feelings about it - you had to be there. During the game, I was taken upstairs to meet the directors of Helmond Sport; a lot of their supporters have never been on the lower concourse of their lounge and even fewer have been in the business club, so for the club to open the doors was great."

After the match on the Friday evening, a friendly 11v11 match between the supporter bases was held on the Stadion de Braak turf the following day, with more than a few of the less-than supremely athletic players puffing slightly earlier into the first half than they would have liked.

"The charity match was fantastic," said Ian. "We got a message saying that the Helmond fans were already on the pitch at 2pm while we were still in the pub having a drink, so we dashed over to the ground and got changed. There was some really good banter going on. It was the full pitch and there were lads on all fours by the end of it! It was in really good spirit.

"After the match, we had the Remembrance event - there was a bugler playing the Last Post, a speaker who highlighted the friendship between the two towns, and they played both national anthems," added Ian. "I've never been involved in anything like it."

The banner recognising the bond between the two clubs.

The link between Burnley and Helmond - both famous for their industrial pasts - is potent. "It's a long-term thing between the clubs," explained Ian. "People may see videos and think it's Burnley lads out on the beer and that we're thugs, but there's some genuine people who want to make connections between the towns."

And this was just the latest in a long line of friendly instalments. Although, with Helmond's seasons fizzling out somewhat, all was not rosy for everyone associated with the club, however.

"A day after the game, they sacked the manager," said Ian. "I got a bit of stick from people saying it was my fault because I'd been talking to the director!"