Justine Lorriman can hardly believe that what started out as a joke on an A-Board led to a name-change, national news coverage and now the BT Sport Manager of the Month award.
Towards the tail-end of 2017, with her beloved Burnley defying all odds to climb to fourth in the Premier League table, she proclaimed that her pub, The Princess Royal, would change its name to The Royal Dyche if the Clarets qualified for Europe.
Lo and behold they finished seventh, which was enough to earn them a Europa League place.
Justine, 26, picks up the story: “I didn’t really think it was going to happen. Before that we had written a board which said, ‘Sean Dyche drinks here for free’, which got a lot of circulation and speculation about him coming in. Unfortunately he never did, so this was the next step to encourage him to come down.
“We officially changed the name on June 5, which was our fifth anniversary at the pub. It got a lot of attention in the press and in the town and the Burnley fans love it.”
Photos of the A-board went viral, showing how pick-up from social media can be vital to capturing an audience.
The name was changed and now a sign featuring Dyche in full Henry VIII regalia hangs proudly outside one of the closest pubs to Turf Moor.
It has recently added another Dyche string to its bow in the form of ‘Royal Dyche Lager’. The Molson Coors creation sits on the bar near to Clarets Cask, one of two handpulls recently introduced at the pub.
The new addition fits in well with a pub that is decorated with Burnley shirts, signs, and works of art including a carving of Dyche and a painting of Einstein sporting their famous colours.
Season-ticket holder Justine, who recently acquired the freehold to the pub, stresses that the pub’s connection with Burnley FC, is based on support rather than looking to profit from their Premier League position.
“When we changed the name we didn’t want anyone thinking we were doing it just to make money and it’s the same with the lager. We aren’t trying to use the club’s name or Sean’s name to make money so we decided that 5p from every pound would go to the club’s official charity, Burnley FC in the Community.”
Football is at the heart of the wet-led pub’s offer, with matchdays being key trading days. The club’s European adventure was also a big boost.
“It had a big positive effect on the town. I went to all the European games and it was a great experience,” continues Justine.
“We are always busy on matchdays and you can definitely tell that the result of games has an effect on the mood of people in here.”
That said, Justine and her team of eight staff work hard to ensure there is something happening every day, be that live Champions League football, pool nights or live music.
“The pub had a bad reputation when we came and we have worked very hard to change that,” says Justine. “The name change brought a lot of people in so they have been able to see what we are doing and how we have changed things. We are always looking for the next big thing for the pub and how we can move the pub forward.”
It is that attitude and application – as well as the name change itself – that has earned Justine the Manager of the Month title. As well as the trophy she was presented with a £1,000 BT Shop voucher to spend on improvements at the pub.
She said: “I am overwhelmed by it. It’s really nice that a big company like BT Sport recognises what a little pub in Burnley is doing and appreciates what we’ve got going on. It’s amazing and it will really help improve what we are doing here.”
One thing that she is still holding out for is a visit from the Burnley manager himself.
“We’re still waiting but we know he is a busy man. The door is always open,” she adds with a smile.
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