Jose Mourinho. Paul Pogba. Dave Fishwick.
The three most highly anticipated returns to the Premier League this season (not necessarily in that order). For the uninitiated, the third name on that list is, in his own words, “just a lad from Burnley who sells a few buses.” In reality, he is a symbol of a purer time, when football clubs’ sponsors were local merchants whose interest in the team went beyond the bottom line. Don’t get us wrong, we are sure plenty of Chelsea fans sit on the Yokohama Tires board. But Dave Fishwick’s connection to his club runs deep. He is to Turf Moor what Vinnie Chase is to Queens Boulevard.
We fell under Dave’s spell when we became obsessed with his signage behind the goal at Burnley home games. In an era of money soaked global Premier League branding, his penchant for minibuses was disarming. We invited him on to the Pod during the 2014/2015 season [LISTEN HERE], a campaign that, unfortunately, ended with Burnley relegated to the Championship. But much to our delight, when we opened the door to welcome new friends to this year’s Premier League party, there was Dave with one arm around Sean Dyche and the other around George Boyd, a chip butty in one hand, a can of Fosters in the other.
With Burnley back in the Premier League, and knocking off the mighty Jurgen Klopp-led Liverpool in week two, we knew we had to catch up with Dave for a temperature check on the Claretts’ season and the minibus industry. So we called him up Wednesday just before Burnley was upset by League Two Accrington Stanley in a rivalry that’s sure to become known as the Dave Fishwick Derby…
MiB: Dave, great to talk with you again. Big game for you tonight. Accrington Stanley hosting Burnley. Last time you spoke with us, you confessed you also have a soft spot for Accrington Stanley.
DF: That’s right. I’m going to the game. I love both clubs. Burnley are the giants in this one and Accrington is the underdog. I actually supply both clubs with minibuses, so they could call this the Battle of the Buses.
MiB: Speaking of buses, it has brought us great joy to see the “David Fishwick Minibus Sales” sign back in the Premier League where it belongs.
DF: I also have a sign on the field. But that’s for my bank, The Bank of Dave. The one on the stands is for the bus side of things, which is very important. But I’m just six months away from opening the first high street bank in Britain in more than 120 years.
MiB: And those signs probably look even better when the final whistle has just gone and you’ve beaten Liverpool 2-0.
DF: That first goal from Sam Vokes in the second minute was amazing. After losing to Swansea the week before, that put the belief in the people again. Wins like that, I really can’t describe how much they lift the spirits of the entire town. Seventy thousand people live here. You could fit the entire town into Old Trafford. But when we get a win like that it lifts everyone. Cafes, restaurant, pubs are busier. Everyone benefits. One of the local butchers,Heys, which does football-themed sausages, they benefit. Everyone gets stuck in.
MiB: We love looking at your social media, Dave, and seeing what you’re having for dinner Friday evening. And you often caption those posts with “Living the Dream.” A man after our own hearts.
DF: When I was a kid, my family didn’t have very much money. We ate a chip shop dinner every Friday. And I still do. Something about steak pudding, chips, peas and gravy, and a few cans of Fosters. It keeps me grounded. When I’m off filming for one of my television series [Dave Fishwick has won two BAFTAs, people!], I meet presidents and celebrities, but I come home to my wife and she says, ‘Nevermind that nonsense. Do you want corn beef hash or cottage pie for your tea?’ That’s what Burnley is. Genuine lads and lasses who love being here.
MiB: Okay, Dave. Prediction time. How does the season play out for Burnley.
DF: I have more belief than anyone. If you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything. And as long as we’re above the bottom three, I’ll be over the moon.
This conversation has been truncated for space, but rest assured it included a story about Dave Fishwick turning down champagne at the BAFTAs and asking for a lager instead, his plan to buy a professional football club and bring them through the ranks and, of course, flying his helicopter. We will continue to check in with Dave throughout the season. He is an amazing man.