Experienced campaigner Billy Joe Burns determined to take it all in

Billy Joe Burns is relishing the opportunity in playing in another Irish Cup final.

By Steven Crawford
Saturday, 7th May 2022, 9:00 am

It will be the defender’s fifth final when he walks out to face Ballymena United at Windsor Park this afternoon.

He has four winner’s medals to date, although he candidly admitted he doesn’t like to count them all as he was an unused substitute in one of the victories during his time at Linfield.

That was in the midst of very successful period for the Blues and Burns said at that time he felt getting to finals and winning medals was common place.

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Crusaders captain Billy Joe Burns

“I won three Irish Cups during my time at Linfield and one since I’ve been at the Crues,” he said.

“It’s very special. Obviously to win a league it’s over the course of the season it takes you a while to get there, but an Irish Cup comes down to that one day and everyone comes out to see it.

“There’s not much better than winning an Irish Cup.

“I came off the bench in one of the wins for Linfield and in another I didn’t get on.

“That’s why I don’t really like saying I’ve won four as I didn’t get on the pitch in one of them.

“But still just being part of those days was fantastic.

“I don’t know if it gets more special the older you get but you probably take it all in more and enjoy the experience.

“You never know when it could be your last final so you have to take it all in.

“It’s been a while since we were here. When I was a young player at Linfield we were winning double after double.

“It just felt like we would do that every year.

“Then you go years without winning any medals or getting to any big finals, so you have to enjoy it all.

“I was talking with Philip (Lowry) the other day that this will be our fifth final we have played in together.

“We’re both on four wins and we’ve won the four of them together.

“Hopefully we’ll be having the same conversation after this saying we’ve won five.

“We’ve been playing alongside each other for a long time now, we’ve built up a good relationship, we’ve won a lot but hopefully there are more to come.”

Burns, who will captain the Crues this afternoon, is not sure where he will start having played across the backline this season and scored a screamer from left back in the recent draw with Cliftonville.

“I’ll play anywhere,” he said. “I obviously played left back against Cliftonville the other week and scored that goal, but that was literally the only thing I did in the game.

“Every time I got the ball I kicked it out of play or misplaced my pass.

“I like to ping a goal out every couple of years just to remind the boys I used to be a good player and I can still do it!

“If Stephen (Baxter) asks me to do it I’ll go and do it.

“Preferably I’d like to be in the centre or right back, but at the end of the day it’s Stephen’s decision.

“I’ll enjoy leading the team out, if selected.

“Leading the boys out all year has been fantastic, leading them out for the final will be special though.

“I wear an armband but we’ve eight or nine senior players who all show leadership on and off the pitch.

“There’s not much to captain in the side because we have so many leaders.”