He may be known as Tony Blair’s right-hand man, a PR guru and creator of the term ‘New Labour’, but Alastair Campbell is also known for being Burnley FC’s most famous fan.
Despite being raised in Keighley, West Yorkshire, Mr Campbell would cross the border into Lancashire to cheer on his beloved Clarets. His love affair with Burnley FC began at the tender age of four and his obsession with the team has seen him attend matches – home and away – for more than 50 years. Even when his education and career took him away from the north to the capital, Mr Campbell continued to follow his team and can still be found cheering them on from the stands most weekends.
Won over by Burnley’s atmosphere
As a young lad, Mr Campbell was surrounded by a number of footballing options, including Huddersfield and Leeds. But despite visits to both, it was Burnley that stole his heart following his first Turf Moor visit with his father Donald, a Scottish vet, in 1961.
Father-of-three Mr Campbell has claimed he was drawn to the club as a young child partly because of its colourful claret and blue shirts. Mostly, however, it was the atmosphere while sitting at the front of what is now the Bob Lord stand that sparked his lifelong passion.
“The people are so friendly,” he has told reporters. “Only once or twice have I had a full political argument.” During home games, Mr Campbell sits in the director’s box, which is ‘right in the heart of the stand with people who are just as passionate as you’. At away games, he chooses to sit among fellow Clarets fans in the stands.
Favourite players and matches
Many of his match day adventures were noted in journals which he kept during his time in Downing Street as Tony Blair’s communications strategist. These were revisited as he compiled his diaries, Power and The People. In it, he noted that Downing Street staff knew to leave him alone between the hours of 3pm and 5pm on Saturdays.
Mr Campbell, who is Editor-At-Large at www.theneweuropean.co.uk/contributor/alastair-campbell/, cites left winger Leighton James and midfielder Martin Dobson as his favourite Burnley players of all time.
Burnley’s 4-1 over Don Revie’s Leeds United at Elland Road in 1974 and their victory in the 2009 Championship play-off finals are among his most memorable games.