Let us meet Andy Robinson*, our Burnley ‘Who are you?’ volunteer for both forthcoming games between us, at Turf Moor in the Premier League on Saturday and at our place in the FA Cup a week later. Andy, who says he hasn’t missed many home games in 30 years, loyally wants and predicts wins for his team in both games but, when you return for his follow-up thoughts on the cup match next week, has an interesting view on league vs cup. Here is his look ahead to Saturday’s crunch match at the bottom (note that his shopping list of players he’d be happy to take from Sunderland preceded news of the Jordan Pickford injury) …
Salut! Sunderland: Presumably you’d take defeat in the cup game provided you get three points a week earlier?
Andy Robinson: I’d sell a kidney for three points at the moment so yes.
As I write, you’ve chalked up another decent, valuable win (and that was even before they beat Boro). Is the season running more or according to your expectations or did you expect better/fear worse?
Burnley in the Premier League is all about hope rather than expectations but we are doing better than our last two promotions so there is at least a little more optimism that we will manage to stay up this time around. That said I do view the world through Claret glasses; if I’m being realistic I think we should take the Geoffrey Boycott approach and imagine we have two more wickets down than we actually do, so pretend we have six fewer points and play like that!
Happy with Mike Garlick, your owner, and Sean Dyche? How far realistically can they take Burnley and will Dyche have money to spend in January?
I personally think Dyche is the best manager we’ve had in my 45 years as a fan and I’m more than happy with Garlick as owner. It has to be said that January transfer windows have not been great for us in the past. I think that there will be money available but Dyche won’t spend it for the sake of it and I’m doubtful that we will bring in any signings of quality though I do hope we sign Joey Barton who was fantastic for us last season. The target is survival and if we do that and get another season of Premier League money we can build further from there.
How well does the town rate in terms of supporting the local club and not claiming glory-seeking allegiance to the elite?
We are supposed to have the best support per head of population than anywhere in the country. I’m not sure if that is true and I’m sure that there are other things to take into account but the vast majority of local kids support Burnley so I will settle for that. No glory seeker would support Burnley!
I just looked up your “golden days” of 1946-1976, during much of which Bob Lord – “the Kruschev of Burnley” – was chairman, you regularly raided the North East for bright young talent and you were a reasonable force in English football. Any (perhaps handed-down) memories/anecdotes?
It was all due to our North East scout Jack Hixon who fed a succession of youngsters, and they were that rather than established players, from the region to Burnley where we developed them. Jack also scouted Alan Shearer but by then we were in the 4th Division so he went to Southampton!
Tom Heaton is a fine keeper, Sam Vokes and Andre Gray were goalscoring heroes in that excellent win over Liverpool and then your record signing Jeff Hendrick scored a great goal against Bournemouth. Who else has been doing it for you and where are you still weak?
Michael Keane and Ben Mee have been excellent at centre half and Belgian midfielder Steven Defour is a player of real quality. We are probably weakest at full back and wide midfield though Icelander Johann Berg Gudmundsson was starting to adapt to life in the Premier League before he was injured.
What have been your best moments as a Burnley supporter?
I’ve seen us win promotion at the old Wembley and the new Wembley so I will die happy at that. Add to that in 2014 and 2016 we won promotion to the Premier League with home wins which you are not always lucky enough to get and they were just brilliant days. My favourite other match would probably be the 2-1 comeback win at Ewood Park in 2014 on our way to promotion when we hadn’t beaten them for 35 years. Also the 3-1 win at Preston in the Northern Final of the wonderfully named Sherpa Van Trophy in 1988 sent us to Wembley for the first time in my lifetime. The atmosphere in the away end at both of those games was insane and will never be forgotten.
And since three promotions in recent seasons means two relegations, they are presumably among the most? ? Should that be worst?
I genuinely didn’t mind the Premier League relegations partly because we had been resigned to them for so long. I found relegation in 1985 to the 4th Division particularly hard to take. We had gone from top division to bottom division in what was then my relatively short lifetime but the seven long years we spent in the 4th Division makes our recent relative success all the more sweet.
Best players seen in your team’s colours – or, dipping into history, who you wish would been around to see?
Not necessarily the best but I’ve always liked goalscorers, Steve Kindon, Billy Hamilton, Andy Payton and recently we have been spoilt with Jay Rodriguez, Charlie Austin, Danny Ings and now Andre Gray. We played at Wembley in 1988 and there was a veterans’ game before the main event when former striker Ray Pointer (who was 51 at the time) was absolutely electric so I wish I could have seen him in his prime. For the record he was born in Cramlington, scored 118 goals in 223 games from 1957 to 1964 and he sadly passed away in January 2016.
And can you think of anyone who should have been allowed nowhere near Turf Moor?
Most of the players who spring to mind only played very few games for us. For a Sunderland connection we had Paul Stewart on loan in 1995 before he joined you and he was particularly useless for us in a season we were relegated against Sunderland.
Sunderland: did you see our latest problems coming or were you surprised that we couldn’t move on from last season’s familiar great escape?
In all seriousness I always expect Sunderland to do much better the following season after the great escapes but it never seems to happen!
Anyone in our team you’d take at Burnley?
I’ve always liked Larsson, Defoe for his goals and Pickford please if we lose Heaton [sadly for us, you won’t be seeing Jordan in either game, Andy, as he is likely to be out for weeks with a knee injury – Ed]. Pickford made an incredible save against us when on loan at Preston last season, I’m still not sure how he saved it. We ended up losing the game but I’m sure we would have won if it had gone in.
Any other thoughts on our club, the fans, the city, region, Moyes?
My first memory of Sunderland would be the 1973 FA Cup final which I remember very well. Difficult to appreciate now but Leeds were the best team in the country at the time and it was a massive upset. If there was one game I remember it was when you beat us 2-1 with nine men at Turf Moor in 1978. I think it was 0-0 when you were down to nine as well. For years after, whenever an opposition team had a player sent off, my mate would look at me and say “remember the Sunderland game!”
Apart from that I’ve always been taken by the passion of the fans as well which I think is very much like Burnley. I’ve spent a lot of time around Teesside and been to Newcastle a few times but sad to say I’ve never been to Sunderland. I think Moyes was a perfect fit for Everton when he was there and I am very interested to see how he does this season after Man Utd and Spain.
What will be the bottom three and where will our clubs finish if not in it?
Hull, Swansea, Crystal Palace. I don’t care where we finish as long as we stop up.
Less important, the top four?
I just have a feeling that Liverpool will do it this year and that Chelsea will fade. Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City
Bob Lord wanted televised football banned. Too late for that but what single step should there authorities take to improve the ordinary fan’s lot?
The thing that annoys me most is that all of the extra billions upon billions in the game and it all goes on players’ wages and agents’ fees, nothing or very, very little goes back to the fans and I think that needs to change. Just let us have a tiny fraction of the extra you are getting, don’t try and rip us off further
Diving: with so many at it, and other forms of cheating, should we stop caring and teach our players it is part of the game? Or do we continue to confront it, and how?
I see diving as a curse on the modern game that the authorities have done woefully little to stop. I’m with Sean Dyche, I think we need a retrospective panel sitting after games. Ex-players, ex-managers, ex-refs; if a majority decide it was a dive then it should be a one-game ban for the player, two for the next offence and so on.
Best ref, worst ref?
There are no good refs, I genuinely think that we are at an all time low in terms of quality. Worst ref is Lee Mason, he referees with a massive agenda and I just don’t believe he officiates games fairly. We will win the Champions League before he would give Burnley a penalty against one of the big teams.
Will you be any the game and what will be the score?
I will be at the game at Turf Moor. We have been scoring goals at home and I’ve got to back us so I’m saying 3-1.
Andy Robinson on himself: I went to my first game at Turf Moor in 1971 and haven’t missed many since then but am virtually ever present at home since 1986. Missed the odd game through illness and birth of children but as my wife will testify, holidays are strictly for the summer! These days I limit away trips to three or four a season. I like to be positive rather than a moaner!
Interview: Colin Randall