On Saturday 5th October 2019, prior to Burnley FC hosting Everton FC in the Premier League at Turf Moor, Burnley FC in the Community took on Everton in the Community in a Veterans 11-a-side football match at Nelson and Colne College.
Nearly 30 veterans were involved in the 90-minute match, getting to meet other military veterans and reigniting their competitive edge which a lot of veterans say they miss from their days of serving.
This fixture was a chance for both BFCitC and EitC, both funded by the Veterans’ Foundation, to showcase their projects; using football and exercise as a form of improving the health and wellbeing of individuals leaving the armed forces.
The game started competitively with both sides settling into playing 11-a-side for the first time. Burnley had some early chances denied by a stubborn Everton defence who were working well to deal with the pacey threat from Burnley’s right-hand side.
Pressure finally paid off for Burnley when some patient build-up play was rewarded with the first goal of the game – coolly converted from close range. 1-0.
However, this was a very spirited Everton team and within minutes of going behind they found themselves level courtesy of a through ball driven through the heart of the Burnley defence that was confidently finished by the Everton striker. 1-1.
The equalising goal came as a bit of a shock to Burnley who had dealt with most things well during the first half, but the same through ball was to catch them unaware once again several minutes later. The striker was allowed to lob the keeper once again, this time from close range. 2-1.
At 2-1 down, Burnley started to settle on the ball once again and began to create more chances. This paid off as some intricate play through the middle unnerved the Everton back-line and resulted in a penalty being given the Clarets’ way. Unfortunately, the penalty was placed over the bar and the scoreline remained the same.
Everton used this momentum to create some breathing space when they found themselves 3-1 up just before half-time. This was a sucker punch for Burnley who had most of the possession during the first half, with plenty of chances to see themselves comfortable in the game.
It was at this point that Burnley made a tactical change from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1, giving more support to the midfield. This tactical masterclass, orchestrated by Naomi Greene, proved pivotal just before half-time when a late run from midfield ended in the goal of the game being scored by Burnley. 3-2 to Everton at the break.
The second half was a much closer affair with both teams utilising their squads due to tired legs. Everton were on top for a large portion of the second half and enjoyed a sustained period of pressure, which the Burnley defence dealt with admirably.
After a series of corners, Everton managed to hit a fourth when a corner was not cleared well, leading to a shot from close range which found the back of the net. 4-2.
With Everton now holding a two-goal lead, Burnley looked to get themselves back in the game. As the game looked like it was creeping away from the home side, they decided to bring on another forward and give one final push.
With 20 minutes to go they were rewarded for their positivity, as some excellent play from back to front ended with Burnley’s centre forward slotting past the keeper to set-up an exciting last 20 minutes.
From here on Burnley pushed for the equaliser and, with just minutes to go, they found themselves countering in a 3 v 2 situation. Bearing down on the Everton goal, the ball was pulled agonisingly wide of the post and the away side breathed a sigh of relief.
Moments later the referee blew for full time and all players embraced. They were relieved to see the end of the game, but proud of the competitive fixture they had produced.
After the game, BFCitC were delighted to welcome both teams back to Turf Moor to enjoy the Premier League fixture between the two clubs. This was an excellent opportunity for the veterans to socialise, which has been highlighted as one of the most important elements of helping to improve health amongst veterans.
Both BFCitC and EitC have been supporting military veterans through health and wellbeing projects for a long time, with joint efforts being something that the clubs, along with other Northwest clubs, have been promoting. This includes a Northwest Military Veterans League which was piloted with five other clubs between May and September.
BFCitC’s Veterans Football is funded by the Veterans’ Foundation.
To find out more about our Veterans programme please contact our Health and Wellbeing Officer, Naomi Greene, on 07934853388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.