Burnley v Middlesbrough, Saturday 17th December 2022, 3pm

At the start of this season there were two Championship grounds that I had yet to visit, Burnley and Watford. I missed the chance to go to Vicarage Road in the summer as we were over in The Lakes and it would have meant a ten hour round trip for an evening game. That left Burnley and fortunately Harry and I had just enough priority points for me to nab a couple of the remaining tickets and the last two seats on one of the Supporters Club coaches.

In the end I went by myself as Harry was ill. Shame really as he likes the away games where we stand in our end and sing. He enjoys the coaches too, particularly the banging on the window and the gesturing at the home fans walking to the ground. Oh, to be eleven again.

Mind you, a spare seat next to you on a coach isn’t a bad thing, particularly when the weather extends the journey time from two hours to three. The snow had laid and most of the livestock that we drove past looked as if they would rather be anywhere else than stood in a field.

We parked up with an hour and a half to kick-off. Burnley cricket club had opened up for away fans and it was packed with most of the 2,500 travelling support. I’m not overly keen on drinking cold beer when the outside temperature is close to freezing and so I limited myself to sausage and chips from the kitchen on the second floor.

It was all a bit busy and so I left everyone to it and headed back out towards the ground, passing the Jimmy Anderson Stand. I wonder if he ends up bowling there when his England and Lancashire days are over. We might have to wait a few years for that.

It didn’t take long to negotiate security outside the turnstiles. I had my big Russian coat on which already weighs as much as you’d expect a coat to do if the pockets were filled with flares and house bricks. Fortunately, I’d neglected to being anything like that and after a cursory pat down I was in.

My seat was central in the lower tier in the old stand behind the goal. There was another old stand to my right, the Bob Lord Stand, with newish looking structures to my left and at the other end.

I went into the game reasonably hopeful of getting something out of it and when Watmore put us ahead just after the break, three points looked a possibility. If the penalty appeal just afterwards had gone our way, then I think we might well have won. A twelve-minute spell where Burnley scored three times scuppered it though and a saved penalty near the end denied us a frantic finale. It was an enjoyable day out and another Championship ground ticked off. Just Watford remaining to complete the division.

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