Small Clubs with Heart

It’s rare you hear about a club in the US in any of the major sports, where a team resides from a small city. It just doesn’t happen. Small market clubs end up being a loosing proposition in many cases. Just take a look at your favorite sport and I am sure you can relate. San Diego Padres are considered a small market club and will never compete with the likes of a Yankees or Boston.

In football…sorry, soccer for those Americans who don’t follow European football it is decidedly different. There is the Barclay’s Premier League, which is top flight football in European. All teams in England strive year after year to be promoted. Beyond the Premiership is the Coca-Cola Championship League, which is home to teams relegated from the top league or teams who achieved success to be promoted. The other lower divisions are the League 1 and League 2 under the Coca-Cola Championship. No sport in the US is like this, where a small team is promoted, the only comparison could be a minor league affiliation in baseball, even that is a different.

Last season saw Burnley, town of 22,000 inhabitants be promoted to the Premiership. As with many lower division teams it is always a great thing for the team and the fans who are loyal to the end and support their club at all levels. Burnley opened home play last night against last season’s champion, Manchester United. Most gave Burnley no chance in hell of winning, let alone scoring a goal.

An interesting note hear while watching the game last night (on my DVR). The entire town of Burnley could fit inside Wimbley, which is home to Manchester United (holds 70,000+). Yet last night was not to be for Man U, who could just not click, while playing a weaker opponent. It was a great feeling watching and experience a lower division club, newly promoted after 33 years taking on the same team tame relegated them from the Prem 1-0, 33 years prior.

Burnley was able to gain the advantage last night on a great volley to the upper corner of the near post that would end up being the game winning goal (only goal of the game) for a 1-0 victory. Everything was going Burnley’s way from deflected balls, to penalty saves to the break. Man U could not muster much in terms of coordination and seemed to be frustrated by what Burnley did to them. Some claim Ronaldo could have pulled 1, possibly all 3 points for Man U. We can only speculate.

While Burnley might not win more than 4 or 5 matches this season, they have begun this Premiership in grand fashion, by taking down the perennial champions. This match was a great spectacle! One that will live long in the hearts and minds of Burnley. Even if they don’t win another match this season, I think we saw the sort of heart the club had, as well as some talented players on the pitch. If you get a chance, catch a replay of this match.