We know how much a derby would win to fans: Duff
11:20am Thursday 14th March 2013 in Sport
FOR Michael Duff, Sunday promises to be the defender’s fifth derby date. He is desperate to taste victory for the first time, but he knows the fans are hungrier still.
Those of a claret and blue persuasion need no reminder that it is 34 years since they last enjoyed the bragging rights.
For Duff, the last eight years – since his first East Lancashire encounter – have been long enough.
“The atmosphere will be brilliant and hopefully we can get the result we want,” said the long-serving defender, who has returned from a calf injury in time to face the auld enemy.
There have been six meetings between Burnley and Blackburn since Duff arrived at Turf Moor in the summer of 2004.
The first two were in the FA Cup, when the Clarets earned a replay at Ewood Park thanks to an initial goalless draw, but bowed out bravely after a 2-1 defeat.
Promotion to the Premier League in 2009 prompted a league reunion for the first time in almost nine years, but Burnley were beaten both times, with Duff an unused substitute for the first of those meetings.
The Northern Ireland international, now in his ninth season with Burnley following his bargain £30,000 move from Cheltenham, played his part in the point Burnley earned at Turf Moor earlier this season, following Rovers’ relegation to the Championship.
He wants to go one better this weekend – not only for the sake of local pride, but equally because he knows Burnley have a score to settle when it comes to their recent form too.
“We were disappointed with how the game went,” said Duff of Monday night’s 1-0 home defeat to Hull, which made it five games without a home win, while the three points they claimed at Charlton three games ago go down as their only win in nine games overall.
“The players recognise how big Sunday is, we don’t need to be told, we had the first game and probably should have won, but did well to get a point in the end.
“It’ll be nice to go to their place and turn them over.
“It’s probably not a bad game to go into, it’s a derby, up and at ‘em, but we need to realise we can play a bit as well.
“It’s not a normal game, it’s one to look forward to. And it’s a great game to go into now. Form goes out of the window in derbies.
“Everyone’s pulling in the right direction at the minute anyway, but the players know what it means, the supporters obviously know what it means and it’s a game that everyone will be looking forward to.”
Duff admits Sunday’s East Lancashire showdown will come as a welcome distraction after a miserable time at the Turf.
“There’s a strange feeling around the place, I thought we started the Hull game quite well for the first 20-25 minutes, without really penetrating, but I felt we controlled the game.
“I don’t know whether we got a little anxious, as the crowd did really, so it’s a bit of a tough one, but we’re a relatively young squad and it’s a learning process.
“Two years ago we were winning every game at home, but look at the age of that squad and the age of this squad and that might tell you something.
“The whole thing’s flipped round now where we’re struggling a bit at home and the age of the squad’s come down quite a bit as well.
“Three years ago we were in the Premier League and I don’t know if the supporters get carried away or not.
“Expectation isn’t a bad thing, it means people don’t think you’re a bad team, if people thought we were useless there wouldn’t be any expectancy.
“It’s about getting that balance, we’re a relatively small club in this league but that’s not something to hide behind.
“We know we haven’t played well enough, that’s the crux of it.”
Duff insists all efforts will go in to all-round improvements.
“Everyone’s working towards one goal, and it’s hard at the minute, there’s no getting away from it,” said the 35-year-old.
“People get carried away, we won four out of five and we are going to get promotion, then you don’t win for five or six games and it’s all doom and gloom.
“That’s why we love football, the emotions are so high and so low.
“All we can do is work hard and work ourselves back in credit.
“We’ll dissect Monday’s game, put that to bed and then work on the Blackburn game.
“It’s going to be blood, guts, thunder – everything that goes with a local derby, and hopefully if we can play as well as we did against them at our place earlier this season hopefully we’ll get a result.”