The Clarets’ pre-season trip to Ireland has brought back good memories for Sam Vokes as he prepares for the next leg of his Turf Moor ‘journey’.
Boss Sean Dyche has brought his squad back to Cork for their summer training camp – returning for the first time since 2013.
That pre-season provided the spark for the Clarets’ lift-off into the Premier League for only the second time and created the base for a sustained run of success under Dyche.
And it also was the build-up to a campaign that made Vokes a key man for the Clarets as he and Danny Ings fired Burnley to the first of two promotions in three years.
With Charlie Austin on his way out of the club to raise much-needed revenue, Vokes and Ings stepped up and shared 41 Championship goals in between them in a ‘goal-den’ year.
“I think it was a big year,” re-called Vokes in a gap between sessions at the Clarets’ training complex.
“Before that I’d had a few loan moves and moved around a few different clubs – including one at Burnley.
“I think that was the first major season of starting in a partnership with Ingsy.
“We were the only two strikers at the club at the time, so I suppose the pressure was on us to produce and luckily we ended up with a promotion at the end of it.”
Vokes’ contribution to Burnley’s promotion success of 2013/14 was cruelly short a month early by a long-term knee injury, with recent arrival Ashley Barnes stepping in to help finish the job.
And following Vokes’ recovery the pair have continued to play key roles since that summer in Ireland five years ago helped kick everything off.
“That was the start of the great journey we’ve been on – the gaffer’s first pre-season then,” Vokes told the Clarets’ website.
“We’ve kicked on and on since then. It’s been good over the years since to move along with the club and improve and be part of something special.
“Not doing it down, but at the time we were a mid-table Championship club I suppose and even the year before that was about survival.
“To move on from there, to get promoted and having a couple of years of sustaining it and then finishing seventh in the Premier League last year was something I don’t think any of us could have dreamed of a few years ago.
“It’s been a great journey and one we want to keep going with the Europa League coming soon.
“It’s something not many of us have played in before so it’s a new challenge and something we want to go far in and prove ourselves at that level as well.”
Having joined the Clarets on a permanent basis in July, 2012, Vokes is now one of the Burnley’s longest serving players with 58 goals spread across 230 appearances as an outstanding club man.
The 28-year-old Wales international faced a tough battle last season to cement a regular starting place as the Clarets continued to evolve on and off the pitch.
But he still weighed in with vital goals to help bring home maximum points from Chelsea, Southampton and Watford.
And he is just as hungry as he was five years ago to keep making an impression and doing his bit for the cause.
“It’s important for a striker to be scoring goals and playing games and that’s what you want to be doing,” Vokes added.
“For me, especially in pre-season, it’s about getting that fitness and getting yourself ready.
“There’s a lot of competition all over the park now and it’s probably the strongest we’ve had in many years.
“On a personal note it’s about getting your marker down in pre-season and trying to get a shirt.”