Keane's cap a measure of Burnley progress

Matt Lane

On Wednesday evening Michael Keane became the first Burnley outfield player to be capped by England since Martin Dobson made a substitute appearance in 1974. That’d 43 years ago.

Many Clarets, myself included haven’t been alive to see a Burnley player represent England and we now have 2 with full caps, after Tom Heaton played for England in their games against Australia and Spain last year.

This to me is a sign of the progress the club has made in the short, medium and long term.

If we’re looking long term, I refer you to  the sixties and seventies when Burnley were one of the best clubs in the country, winning the League in 1960 and coming close on a number of occasions in the next 15 years or so. Fast forward to 1987 when we hit our low point and were almost relegated to the conference save for a dramatic last day win against Leyton Orient.

The progress from that day ever since has not been without setbacks, but we have maintain a positive trajectory, winning the fourth division and championship in that period. Our climb to the top level again has been long and arduous – but that’s what makes it worth while.

In the medium term, we can look at our progress over the last 20 years. After earning the right to play in the second tier, we lost our way and thanks to ITV digital almost went bankrupt and relegated. We survived that scare and managed against all odds to reach the Premier League and bank its riches.

That has set us up for what can now be seen as short term progress. Our club has now had the money to assemble a squad that looks capable of staying in the Premier League on the field, whilst making leaps and bounds off the field.

I look around now and see my club, a club that we all built and worked hard to turn it into what it is today. It wasn’t assembled by one rich man out of nothing, every ounce was earned and toiled over.

We have a wonderful set of players and a manager who was not far down the betting odds to be next England manager. It is no coincidence that the three best players I’ve seen for Burnley all play at the club now – Heaton, Keane and Defour. The longer I am able to watch these play in claret and blue the better, but i consider myself lucky to have been around to see it. I am (just) old enough to remember Mark Ford.

We are set up well off the pitch too with ground redevelopments. A brand new club shop, fit for the Premier League was built just before the season began and since then we have seen some wonderful canvases installed around the stadium to remind us all of those Burnley heroes that brought us to where we are and helped to decorate our history.

Finally our new training ground at Barnfeld is virtually complete and this really is a superb complex that will enable us to move forward in terms of academy status. The facilities are truly top class and will help us encourage better signings going forward – the old training ground was becoming dilapidated and this really is investment in the clubs future.

To top this all off, we now have a superb young defender who has earned his right to play at international level for England. I thought Keane looked comfortable in a new team and new system and was probably the pick of the defenders.

I would be shocked if we retained Keane after this season, especially as his contract will be up in just over 12 months.  His value now must be approaching £30m. He is compared to Stones a lot given their similar ages, and if Stones is worth £50m Keane can’t be far away. His consistency and all round game are excellent and he has improved with every season. He would be an ideal defender for any team in this country, even the biggest teams.

So when we’re losing away 2-0 and not playing well, its important to know where we are and where we have come from, that is what defines us as a club and makes us special. These are the glory days that our parents and grandparents feared we wouldn’t see ever again so make the most of them while they are here.

Up the Clarets.

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