Arfield hitting the right notes at Turf
CHASING Dreams is the title of a song on the album of Scott Arfield’s former band, The Begbies.
It was not written by their former front man, but after the season he has had – his first with Burnley – it could have been.
Wind the clock back to this time last year and Arfield was facing an uncertain future.
Released by Huddersfield Town at the end of his third year with the Yorkshire club he went on holiday not knowing what situation he would be returning to; where his next move would be.
On May 6, 2013 the Scot tweeted a photograph of himself stood outside the Terriers’ training ground with the message: “Thanks very much for all the leaving messages, very much appreciated.
“I hope ma (sic) ppi comes in.”
But Sean Dyche made sure Arfield was not reliant on a refund on Payment Protection Insurance. For when the Clarets returned for pre-season training the former Scotland Under 21 international was invited along.
He played in the first pre-season friendly at Morecambe, and although it ended in a 1-0 defeat for Burnley, Arfield stood out.
He had made an immediate impression on existing players – most baffled that he had been allowed to leave Huddersfield and was available on a free transfer. Arfield followed that up with a goal against Cork City at the end of Burnley’s training camp in Ireland.
It led to the offer of a Clarets contract, with the Falkirk youth team product putting pen to paper on a two-year deal.
Little did he know at the time the remarkable season that Burnley were about to embark on.
But if he was to now write a song about his Turf Moor experience, he has the perfect title for it.
“I’d call it ‘12 months’,” he said with a smile, reflecting on the dramatic shift his career has taken: unemployed to the Premier League.
“The last game of the 2012/13 season I wasn’t even involved – against Barnsley at Huddersfield,” he recalled.
“I was sat in the stand watching it, thinking about the big games that I wanted to play in, and I’ve managed to play in really every big game this season.
“It’s been a quick 12 months and it just goes to show you what can change, not just in football but in life as well.”
Had anyone sat next to Arfield in the stand that day as he watched an end of season tussle between two Yorkshire clubs pan out predicted what would become of him one year on, he would not have believed them.
So much so he would have labelled the suggestion: “Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.
“Last summer I was speaking to so many people. I went on my holiday and I never had a club. We were sitting by the pool and we were thinking where we were going to move to and what was going to happen and what life holds for you.
“What we’ve achieved this season, it’s amazing,” said Arfield, referring not only to his own transformation but that of team-mates who were also new to the club in the summer.
“People like Tom Heaton, who got relegated last year, and now he’s playing in the Premier League.
“There are so many stories, so many brilliant stories. Roy of the Rovers you might call it. It’s phenomenal what we’ve done.”
Quite appropriately for Arfield, Burnley have been on song all season, leaving him with no regrets about choosing a career in football over music.
The band started out as a hobby, shared with his brother, Stuart, who played bass, and a couple of friends from their home town of Livingston.
But when their popularity and prospects grew, vocalist Arfield had to make a decision.
Football won, based on his belief that his feet were better than his vocal chords. Described as a mixture of bands The View, The Clash and The Sex Pistols, The Begbies prefer to perform their own work in the main but are known for one cover version – Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger”.
It was a go-to tune at gigs when Arfield was the front man.
He has been far from a passenger on Burnley’s journey to the Premier League. As third leading scorer with nine – eight in the Championship – he played a significant role in firing them there.
Since promotion was confirmed with a win over Wigan on Easter Monday, the 25-year-old admitted he had watched ‘Super Sunday’ and other top flight fixtures through different eyes.
“You watch that and Match of the Day and you think ‘I’m going to be there’. It’s what dreams are made of.
“But it’s all well and good getting there, it’s maintaining that and performing to how we did this year. Hopefully it takes us one better.”
And while Arfield cannot wait to sample all of what the Premier League has to offer, there is one fixture in particular that he will be keeping a close eye on. Liverpool away.
“Anfield – that’s probably the one for me,” he beamed.
“I watched Liverpool games as a youngster. “To go there next season, that will be the big one.”