VIDEO: Clarets players get a fan-tastic reception on promotion parade
SEAN Dyche had to pause for laughter.
He was trying to answer a question about his highlight of the season, and it was put it to him that Burnley’s 2-1 win over arch-rivals Blackburn in March was a strong contender.
The thousands of Clarets fans assembled outside the town hall answered it for him.
And while the victory chant may have turned the air blue for any broadcasters present, this was definitely a claret and blue day.
The club’s colours were proudly displayed the length and breadth of Manchester Road; on shirts, flags, scarves, balloons and faces.
There was even a dog proudly sporting a Clarets jersey, probably wondering what all the fuss was about.
But this was an occasion worth savouring.
The Twittersphere may have scoffed at the idea of an open-top bus parade for a team that finished second in the Championship, but this squad’s achievement is one worth heralding. “If you’d have told me at the start of the season that we’d be having a promotion parade, I’d have asked what you were drinking,” said Turf Moor season ticket-holder Gareth Murphy.
The 36-year-old recalled similar scenes in the town centre in 1994, when the club was promoted to the old Division One following a play-off victory against Stockport County.
“The bus definitely broke the 30mph limit that day. Blink and you’d missed it. Today has been a good day out. It’s exactly how you want to end your season. We couldn’t have dreamt of this at the start of the season.
“I think we’re better equipped to say up than last time. We’ve got a team that will work together for each other.” Mr Murphy, from Nelson, managed to access the first floor of a Manchester Road business to get a premier view of the bus.
Others clambered upon window ledges, bins, lights and railings - whatever they could to get a glimpse of their heroes. Some of those present weren’t even born the last time the Clarets were in the Premier League.
Little Lowerhouse lad Noah Drury, two, had somehow fallen asleep on his dad’s shoulders. Goodness knows how.
The diehards outside the town hall were going through their full repertoire of songs, with a tune for almost every player.
The outgoing Mayor of Burnley, Coun Frank Cant, barely got a word in as the jubilant crowd demanded to see Clarets boss Sean Dyche.
“Sean Dyche has made all the difference,” reckoned Steven Blake, from Rosehill, who turned up with his whole family.
“We’re looking forward to going to some Premier League grounds next year,” he added. Fresh from a civic reception from the town’s political leaders, the Burnley squad were introduced one by one to the sea of supporters.
As Ross Wallace pondered the Clarets’ chances in the top flight, one excitable fan yelled out: “We’re going to win it.”
And while that may have been tongue-in-cheek, there was a real optimism about Burnley town centre yesterday.
Gordon Renton, 44, was one of three generations of his family in attendance, along with his daughter, Sarah, and her son Ryan Hancock.
Mr Renton, from the Stoops estate, said: “They have done really well, especially with such a small squad. It’s been great for the whole town and the community spirit.
“I’m glad there’s been such a good turnout today because they deserve it.” The crowd’s biggest cheers were reserved for top scorer Danny Ings and captain Jason Shackell.
Injured striker Sam Vokes briefly abandoned his crutches to salute the street. Once the players had milked their applause, the club’s directors emerged to hold aloft the Championship runners-up trophy in front of the rapturous supporters.
There was a 40 minute wait until the open-top bus set off, which gave the crowd time to disperse along the route to Turf Moor.
Despite a healthy police presence, and the town’s pubs taking full advantage of the surge in Sunday trade, there was no trouble at all as the crowd danced alongside the bus when it finally turned out of Hargreaves Street into Manchester Road.
What followed was a surge of Clarets fans through the pedestrianised area of St James’ Street, eager to arrive at the Yorkshire Street roundabout in time to get a second view of the bus.
As it crept along Centenary Way at walking pace, hundreds more fans followed it up the dual carriageway.
By the time it had reached Harry Potts Way, the bus was surrounded by thousands of people. The scenes were evidence of a town in a state of pure ecstasy, fit to rival any match day march to the stadium.
Fans shouted at the players for attention, bellowing over the din of horns to ask them to pose for pictures.
In return, the players filmed the fans, keen to create a keepsake of the day. Outside Turf Moor, the party was well underway.
At one point, the squad even joined in with the fans’ vocal tribute to Ings and Vokes.
Red-haired Emily Evans, seven, was stood with her home-made tribute to Sean Dyche, which read: ‘This ginger loves the ginger Mourinho.’ “The fame against Wigan when we got promoted was her first game.” explained her dad Nick, from Harle Syke.
Burnley fans will be hoping she brings similar good luck to Turf Moor next year.
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