Clarets Raise a Glass to Preston North End’s Demise

Wherever possible, we try to be neutral and unbiased in these parts. Not this week. Controversy Week continues on The Seventy Two with Burnley supporter Jamie Smith‘s no-holds-barred rant of pure joy at the demise of the Clarets’ neighbours Preston North End. The Lilywhites are on the verge of relegation. Jamie is shedding few tears…


Preston fans are a constant irritation. Ever since they won the Division Two (for that was its name at the time) title back in 2000, Burnley fans have had to put up with them.

But all of a sudden it’s gone quiet. Because Preston North End are going down.

The Championship’s current longest-serving outfit are on the brink of relegation, despite a minor fightback in recent weeks. Sacking Darren Ferguson didn’t work as it took Phil Brown weeks to notch his first win in charge. Even though performances have improved, there is now very little chance of North End avoiding the drop.

There’s been some debate among Clarets about how we should react to their demise. For many years we have lived ever so slightly in their shadow. We were promoted in second place behind PNE that year and have generally been below them in the final standings ever since.

Preston have made it into the play-offs a handful of times to our one finish in the Championship’s top six. But while they have failed on each and every occasion – indeed, they have never been promoted other than automatically – we beat Sheffield United at Wembley in May 2009 under Owen Coyle to enjoy a season in the sun.

That Premier League campaign made me realise how little I’m bothered about Preston. We’ve enjoyed – perhaps enjoyed is not the right word – a curious type of rivalry over the last decade, with our biggest neighbours Blackburn Rovers usually above us in the league structure and theirs, lowly Blackpool, below until recent years.

Being the only two Lancashire clubs in the Championship for many the seasons forced this fake hatred on us. Preston’s annoying habit of singing “we are superior” whenever they inevitably triumphed over us at Deepdale due to yet another shocking penalty award (more of this later) grated, but generally most Clarets were probably a little jealous of North End’s relative success, while we laboured in mid-table. But I don’t know, maybe we’d rather finish 12th every season than lose in the play-offs year after year.

Billy Davies didn’t help matters, though. He fanned the flames with his infamous “job done” speech after a win midway one of Preston’s ill-fated play-off attempts and he’s been amusing Burnley fans ever since as he desperately tries to claw himself into the Premier League while endlessly bleating about not being given more cash from his board.

Now of course, with our promotion push threatening to peter out while North End’s relegation nears confirmation, we’re looking like spending next season one level above our fellow Lancastrians, as we did last time out.

In fact, if we could pull off the unlikely and steal a place in the top six and triumph at Wembley again, we’ll be two leagues above. It will be hard to take any interest in North End’s trips to Rochdale while we have glamour ties against Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs to look forward to.

This season an exorcism of sorts appears to have eradicated much of the ill feeling Burnley fans have towards North End.

For years and years we have been beaten annually at Deepdale and it is honestly not bias speaking when I point to refereeing decisions often deciding the tie. I’ll never forget Graham Laws in February 2005, giving North End a penalty for their winger fouling our full-back, off the pitch. I genuinely have no idea how he reached the decision, even six years on.

The previous season, one of the worst Burnley defensive performances I’ve ever seen resulted in a 5-3 battering at Deepdale. We couldn’t blame the referee for this one, unfortunately, though Glen Little did miss a sitter for us at 3-3.

The year before that, in a pulsating 3-2 win for the Clarets, Nigel Pearson had given David Healy a penalty for being tackled by Graham Branch. Healy hadn’t bothered to appeal, knowing the fairness of the challenge. We still won that one, but there would have been hell to pay had Arthur Gnohere – a marauding centre-back no less – not somehow strolled through the North End defence to finish off a neat one-two for the winner, his second of that match.

Just a couple of years ago, Paul Taylor gave two (yes two, it actually gets worse) penalties to help North End win 2-1. Stephen Elliott hurled himself to ground over Brian Jensen to win the first and ludicrously Taylor gave another when Jon ‘good touch for a big man’ Parkin used his considerable weight to push Steven Caldwell’s arm on to the ball for the daftest handball decision I can remember seeing.

So North End’s luck with referees – or cheating, to put it another, more blunt way – has been a frustration over the years. I certainly won’t miss the journey back from Deepdale, complaining about yet another official robbing us of deserved points.

But yes, this year was the exorcism. Burnley went to Deepdale with North End desperate for a result to keep their slim survival hopes alive, while we needed a win to keep up the pace at the top. Jay Rodriguez gave us the lead, Barry Nicholson cancelled it out and Jack Cork won it at the death with a glorious diving header.

I wasn’t there – I vowed not to put myself through the heartache again after the Taylor year – but the relief was palpable, even wandering around the Arndale Centre in Manchester. We’d finally beaten North End at Deepdale, nine years after the previous win.

Some fans will say local derbies are special and they offer something to look forward to. But ever since Preston stopped competing at the top of the league, the number of supporters heading to Turf Moor has dwindled. Only about a thousand made the trip earlier this season when we beat them 4-3, from 3-1 down, although it was on telly.

But the truth is it’s never been a proper derby. It’s been a stopgap while we wait for a chance to get one over on Rovers and they await the chance to put Blackpool in their place.

I won’t miss Preston. Their ground looks like it’s made of Lego, their fans can be spectacularly idiotic and they cheat to win. Good riddance to them.

The Seventy Two
The Seventy Two published an outstanding series of articles about the Football League between 2010-12 and was the brainchild of Leicester City fan, David Bevan. As well as collaborating with The Two Unfortunates on the Football League Blog Network and a mammoth 2011-12 season preview, the site featured a host of leading bloggers and David was rewarded with a nomination in the 2011 Football Supporters’ Federation awards. Latterly, he was joined as co-editor by Joe Harrison and TTU is happy to present this archive of the site’s output.

18 Comments

  1. Michael
    March 29, 2011

    Great rant, and I’m sure any offended Preston fans will have taken just as much delight in your relegation last year. Really enjoying these pieces this week.

    Reply
  2. olimorley
    March 29, 2011

    agreed very childish, was this written by a 5 year old! Going of the towns low iq level Proberly a well educated dingle. firstly Northend are not down yet there’s still fight in the boys and better performances and results have proven getting points at cardiff, qpr, norwich, and giving them a very good game. Northend were also ridiculed this season by fergie spitting the dummy out telling hemmings to give jnr another change, then pulling his players out and threatening stoke to take there players back.

    stadium looking like lego????? at least the grass is payable and it doesn’t look like Susan boyles ass crack!!!!

    It won’t be long till we will be above you dingwits!!!!

    Much love !

    Reply
    • Jamie Smith
      March 29, 2011

      This is what I meant when I said Preston fans are an irritant…

      Like I said, results and performances have improved (eventually – didn’t it take Brown two months to get a win?). But you’re still going down and since you have no money, how are you going to come back?

      Reply
  3. Lily White
    March 29, 2011

    As a Preston fan, personally I’ve been a little peeved over the past couple of years with Burnley and then Blackpool’s rise to the Premier League – not so much because of the promotion, but because we’re so awful at the play offs that it’s a bitter pill to swallow when our local rivals manage the play offs with relative ease.

    If (or when) we get relegated, so be it. Our club has suffered worse in fairly recent history. It’s not that long ago that we had to apply for re-election to the football league, a far cry from our early days of glory.

    As for your comments about cheating and dodgy referees, as you said – it’s not a proper derby, so why are you worried?!! I also noticed our dwindling away support to Turf Moor long before our recent problems – maybe it was the seating arrangements!!

    Hopefully, one day we’ll be back stronger than ever. After all, it’s been a long time since we were in the top division, a little longer won’t hurt!

    Good luck!

    Reply
  4. Gordon
    March 29, 2011

    “That Premier League campaign made me realise how little I’m bothered about Preston.”

    What a prat – so little bothered that you have to write a rant of epic proportions detailing every slight decision you feel has gone against in you in the past 10 years – idiotic in the extreme.

    Reply
    • Jamie Smith
      March 29, 2011

      Hi Gordon, I wrote this with my tongue firmly in my cheek, if that helps…

      Reply
  5. Kirky
    March 29, 2011

    Your obviusly full of sh!t as Preston went 1 nil up this season!!!

    Go back to school, your embarrassing!!!

    Reply
  6. Jake
    March 29, 2011

    You’re a fool. You’re showing incompetence with this, and I quote – “Jay Rodriguez gave us the lead, Barry Nicholson cancelled it out and Jack Cork won it at the death.” Jay Rodriguez never gave you a the lead, Barry Nicholson in fact gave us the lead. If you’d have bothered doing any research or maybe even gone to the game then you would have known this. A simple search of “Burnley v Preston” into Google would have brought up the information you were looking for, straight off the BBC website. I stopped reading the article when I got to here, because it was becoming more and more of a joke, and making you look like more of an idiot. I’m not going to attempt to ridicule you because you’re a “dingle” but seriously, you need to polish up on your writing skills, and get your facts straight before writing such an abusive, biased article.

    Cheers, Jake

    Reply
  7. olimorley
    March 29, 2011

    So if your not bothered by preston and you don’t consider it to be a Derby why write this article you imbecile !!! Why don’t you write an article about Plymouth’s relegation battle!!!

    A true dingwit !

    Reply
  8. Chris
    March 29, 2011

    It’s an awful and very badly written article and really doesn’t represent the views of many Clarets. He makes a fool of himself with the comments on the ground being lego when anyone with half a brain can see they’ve done a better job than we have.

    Also the scores must not have been coming through at the Arndale correctly. Jay equalised for us, he did not put us in front.

    This bloke has struggled to get a job as a journalist. I think we can all see why now.

    Reply
    • Jamie Smith
      March 29, 2011

      Burn!

      At no point did I claim to represent “many clarets”. This is my opinion.

      I’d prefer to play at a half-falling-down ground with some character and history like the Turf than a Meccano set like Deepdale. Its only redeeming feature is the faces in the seats now the football museum has gone.

      Reply
  9. Dave
    March 29, 2011

    What a pathetic article! All I expect from a Dingle. Even if we were playing in the Blue Square Northern League and Burnley were in the Premier league will would still be superior – WE WILL ALWAYS BE SUPERIOR! Go back to school, learn some English and stop eyeing up your sister……….

    Reply
    • Jamie Smith
      March 29, 2011

      But why, Dave, why? Why are you superior? I don’t get it.

      Reply
      • Dave
        March 29, 2011

        Why not?! This whole article reeks of little man syndrome! You’ve all but admitted in words that you are not superior. If we are such an insignificance why bother saying anything?! I was at the PNE vs Burnley game and all I could hear from Dingles was “Preston are going down with no money in the bank” Just because a team has no money it doesn’t diminish it’s standing as a club. We are superior. You may have had one season in the lime light, but in the greater scheme, we are superior. Pure and simple. Both as a club and a town. If you don’t understand that maybe it’s time to reconsider putting your opinions on public show……………

        Reply
  10. Jamie Smith
    March 29, 2011

    Ah, yes, I made a pretty big goof there referring to this season’s game, didn’t I?

    Well done to all who spotted it. Your prizes are in the post.

    As an aside, don’t take this piece too seriously – it’s really not meant to be read in that manner!

    Reply
  11. Jake
    March 29, 2011

    “Ah, yes, I made a pretty big goof there referring to this season’s game, didn’t I?” You did, like I said. Incompetent.

    Reply
  12. Rob
    March 29, 2011

    I’m a Preston fan. I thought the piece was pretty well written and almost feel some empathy towards the author. Although I wouldn’t say it exactly fit the description of “no-holds-barred rant of pure joy”.

    Reply
    • theseventytwo
      March 29, 2011

      I’ll take the blame for the byline…

      Reply

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