IT’S a minor wonder that Lancashire Police’s switchboard wasn’t jammed with calls from thousands of Burnley supporters on Saturday tea-time, complaining of a mugging that had just taken place on Harry Potts Way.
In fact if the players and staff of Middlesbrough Football Club possessed an iota of decency, they would have left Turf Moor clad in prison suits, so grand an act of larceny had they just perpetrated.
If ever there was “one of those days”, this was it.
Everyone in the ground knew the equation.
Three points for Burnley plus anything less than victory for Derby against Huddersfield, and the waiting would be over.
Initially, everything went to plan.
Not only were the Terriers helping out by taking the lead at Pride Park, but the Clarets were well on top and creating so many chances that it was only a matter of time before Boro’s makeshift defence succumbed to the inevitable.
Sadly, such an analysis failed to factor in a goalkeeping master-class from Dimi Konstantopoulos, an abject display from referee Dean Whitestone and his assistants, and Huddersfield’s spectacular collapse.
Playing the referee card when the result hasn’t gone your way is usually the preserve of under-pressure managers, but Sean Dyche was justified in belly-aching about the non-awarding of two “factual penalties.”
Jonathan Woodgate’s muscular shove on Scott Arfield and Nathaniel Chalobah’s use of Danny Ings to recreate his favourite WWF scene were nailed-on spot-kicks to all observers except the one who mattered.
Both incidents occurred late in the second half after Boro had taken the lead (might Arfield have ‘taken one for the team’ in the build-up?) and were hanging on for grim life.
Konstantopoulos had been heroically flinging himself around his six-yard box like a goalkeeper possessed.
Michael Kightly, Ings, Kieran Trippier, Ashley Barnes, Junior Stanislas, Ross Wallace – none of them could find a way around the formidable Greek, and a day that everyone hoped would culminate in celebration instead ended in frustration.
Still, the best kind of pleasure is often deferred.
And how sweet it would be were Burnley able to clinch promotion at Blackpool on Friday – provided Doncaster help us out later that evening and take something from their game against Derby.
In closing, how heartening it was to see Gary Parkinson receiving such a fantastic reception from four sides of the ground.
Thanks in no small measure to that goal in the 1993/94 play-off final, Gary’s name is forever etched into the collective consciousness of Burnley supporters.
We can only wish him the best of luck in his fight against his terrible illness.