Teenage midfielder Dylan Moonan is nearing the end of his first year as a ‘scholar’ in the Clarets’ Academy.
Moonan has therefore been a full-time footballer with Burnley – combined with his in-house academic studies – for approaching 12 months.
The central midfielder has been a regular in the Clarets’ U18 side this season and helped Tony Philliskirk’s side reach the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup, scoring in both the fourth and fifth-rounds wins over Mansfield Town and West Bromwich Albion.
A Special Year…by Dylan Moonan
To kick-start the next phase in my life and football, I was lucky enough to have two very interesting experiences based upon the 100th anniversary of World War I.
It was in the earlier stages of the U12 season when on a rainy training night, the group was asked for two lads to volunteer to sing for Burnley FC.
That came as a shock for us footballers to be asked to sing and so an ex-teammate and I were the only two to step forward, unsure of what it was all about.
We stayed after training for further details and were told we had been invited to represent Burnley Football Club in a Christmas Truce song to commemorate 100 years since The Great War.
The whole experience was fantastic. Sixty U12 footballers, 38 from Premier League clubs and 22 from German (mainly Bundesliga) sides, came together in Liverpool for a weekend and we recorded a song at Parr Street Studios in great togetherness spirit.
It was surreal to be stood in a Burnley shirt singing in a choir with lads I didn’t know but felt connected to throughout the weekend. We stayed over in university digs which was very unusual and the first time I had ever slept in a room alone, away from home.
The 60 of us trained together at Everton and Liverpool’s training grounds, met Roberto Martinez, and were treated to watch Everton versus Chelsea at Goodison Park.
The Peace Collective were re-releasing the song ‘All Together Now’ to commemorate 100 years since the Christmas Day Truce and to raise funds for charities such as the British Red Cross.
The song included many stars such as The Proclaimers, Engelbert Humperdinck, Alexandra Burke and the backing choir of us U12 Footballers. The song ended up reaching about 70 in the charts, I think.
Shortly after, for the same reason, in November 2014 my U12 Burnley team travelled to Ypres, Belgium to take part in the Premier League Truce Tournament. It was the first time I had been abroad with team-mates; Lewis Richardson, Joe McGlynn and Tremaine Eastmond who are still at the club now.
The journey started at Turf Moor in the early hours. We were treated to a first-team coach and travelled to Manchester City. From there we took the Eurostar to France and made our way up the coast to Ypres, totalling up to a 12-hour-plus journey!
We stayed in a hotel near to the Crack Stadion where we played all our nine-a-side matches which lasted 30 minutes. In our first game, we played Arsenal in front of the main stand and I was playing right-back. It was a great match-up and our team came out on top with a 1-0 victory. I remember I was up against David Beckham’s son (Romeo).
For the rest of the tournament we had unfortunate results as we faced the other teams in our group such as Manchester United, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion.
While it was the 100th year anniversary our team was taken to many landmarks. We visited war memorials and cemeteries to be educated about the horrors of the war. Even though I had already learnt about the war from school and watched films, this was the first time the reality hit home and was put into true perspective for me.
I will never forget my experience at the Menin Gate and The Last Post Ceremony. At eight o’clock in the evening we reached the huge arc of the Menin Gate and stood on the bridge, opposite many thousands of people paying their respects.
The Last Post, which is the traditional final salute to the fallen, was played by a marching band that sent chills through me. It was an honour to attend this guest service and each Premier League team showed their respects by laying a wreath.
A short time after the trip, I was fortunate to receive an old styled, leather football to remind me of the experience and it still takes pride of place on my shelf at home.