Going Through The Motions

Have you looked at Rovers website lately? Maybe like me you were sent an email at Christmas with a message from the club to all their long suffering supporters. I thought we were probably in for a rare message from Pune wishing us all the best for our families and reminding us they will spare no expense in backing the manager with millions of pounds of transfer cash to spend in the January sales. All with the intention of propelling us up to the Premier League Title and a place in the Champions League where we belong. But no, the ‘Silence Of The Venkys’ lives on and is one day set to be made into a major film about the death of a once great football club, featuring a cast of clueless actors being badly advised by dark agents and chancers.

What I was treated to was the Christmas video by our players. Now you may have read my blogs before and know me to be the ‘Victor Meldrew’ of football supporters but when it comes to supporting Rovers I’ve been doing it since 1978 as a season ticket holder so don’t talk to me about being a part-time supporter. I do watch Fylde, Stanley and the occasional Reading match when Rovers aren’t at home but I think I’m allowed that perk for putting up with the tripe I’ve had to watch from Rovers over the last six years. 

Watch the video and see what you think

https://youtu.be/CVt7TirCCv0

Well, is it just me or is this video by the players as lacklustre as most of the performances on the pitch have been this season. Singers they are certainly not but are they footballers? Now the few of us left in the stadium at home games are a mixed bunch. We pretty much all want Venkys to do the decent thing and sell to a responsible owner who can get the heart of this club beating again. But when it comes to the manager and players we are somewhat divided. There is the view that Owen Coyle managed Burnley and that should forever damn him from crossing the threshold at Ewood. Were he to take us on a magical run of games that propelled us into the top six and culminated in a glorious play-off win at Wembley to take us back to the Premier League next season there would be those of you who would be waiting for the first match he lost to immediately call for his sacking. However, let’s look at the facts. He certainly doesn’t have a good track record but he was no doubt the cheapest option for a club shorn of parachute money and haemorrhaging money from every turnstile. He inherited a club only a few weeks before the start of the season that had a mere eleven senior players on its books. He was to our knowledge given no meaningful money to buy players so of the twelve players he has brought to the club six have been on loan and only Derrick Williams commanded a fee. He managed to get Danny Graham to re-sign and has found good attacking options with Gallagher and Emnes. He has been let down by weak defence and non existent midfield. Jason Lowe was never captain material and is frankly not up to the job of playing in midfield or full back. You cannot expect to sell players like Hanley and Duffy for millions of pounds only to replace them with loans and journeymen who are left on the shelf without a club. Our only saleable asset is now Ben Marshall. Probably £1.5m will buy him. Will Coyle be given the money? Probably not. Will we miss Marshall if he goes? Definitely not. His heart hasn’t been in it for months. Whether it’s because a succession of managers have moved him around into different positions or that so many have told him what a great player he is, but great he ain’t. He appears moody and disinterested. That stupid headband is the final straw. Cut the ties and the headband in January, maybe Paul Lambert will get the best out of him.We are told by Coyle he wants new recruits in the January window and also he wants to get some of the youngsters tied down to longer contracts. If he manages to get new faces in then that’s all well and good but we are already starting to be set adrift at the bottom, with Burton winning tonight we are 5 points behind them and it makes a win at Huddersfield on Saturday and against Newcastle on Monday an absolute must. Failure to get some points on the board in the next few weeks may well result in someone (although God knows who) sacking Owen Coyle. Who would be up for the challenge of working with no money for absent owners at a club who’s journey seems to be spiralling towards a black hole is anyone’s guess. Whether you support Coyle or not it’s quite clear to me that many of these players will be responsible for his departure. The players he has brought in to the club have, in the main, been successful. It is some of the existing players that have underperformed.Their lacklustre performances and individual errors will get this manager sacked if they don’t wake up and put a shift in. Some of the players at this club are like the sewage worker when asked if he enjoyed his job. His reply was ‘I’m just going through the motions’

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Another Rollercoaster Season?

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On 15th January 2012 I wrote a ‘letter to India’ which is documented in the archives of this site. I never did get that reply I was seeking. I didn’t get my postage back either. I shouldn’t be surprised because whilst I talked about the family that is Blackburn Rovers and the need for communication between owners and supporters, my plea was met by silence. 

29th May 2016

Fast forward nearly four and a half years and see what has happened? We have seen a handful of managers, a shed load of mediocre players, and debt growing to £100+ million. This has all been done in ‘Venky Time’. Why do something today when it can be done tomorrow? Doubtless the chickens don’t complain so why should we? Well I’ll give you a reason. It’s because the s..t becomes that little bit deeper and harder to clean up with every day that passes. Chickens (and people) become demoralised and don’t perform to their best. Customers find what they are looking for with other suppliers. Sheds (and stands) eventually empty and businesses cease to be viable. 

So how can you reverse the downhill spiral? By making quick, but informed, decisions and acting on them today. You have no manager, just 16 players in contract and are taking a month to find a Communications Manager to replace the Communications Manager you put on ‘Gardening Leave’ a month ago. 

Now is the time to act to save this club from that downhill spiral or have we to endure another rollercoaster of a season ending in League 1 obscurity?

13th October 2016

Fast forward again to 13th October and it doesn’t have to be a Friday for number 13 to be unlucky. Despite a much improved performance in the last 3 games we still can’t win a match and remain bottom of the Championship. You can’t blame Owen Coyle for this mess. The players he has been able to bring in have mostly been ‘Frees’ and loan players, with his total spend of£250,000 for Derrick Williams against sales of Hanley and Duffy netting around £10 million. So don’t be too quick to berate Coyle for his poor start to the season or his former association with the Dingles down the road. There is no manager that could do more in these circumstances, even if you could find one that is daft enough to work under our absent owners. His cry for funds to be made available before the transfer deadline was met with the usual silence from Pune. I have no doubt we will turn a corner and actually win a match before long but whether it will be in time to make up points on those above us, only time will tell. What I do know is we must continue to make our voices heard to as many people as possible throughout the world about the disastrous and incompetent ownership by Venkys of our beloved Blackburn Rovers. It was good to see newspapers like The Times and The Times Of India taking up the story of their reign at Ewood again. I just hope Venkys finally talk to the supporters before this club implodes through criminal neglect and consider selling the club to someone who can reverse the decline as soon as possible.

 

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Back To The Future?

  It’s been a while since we saw scenes like this at Ewood Park. A night when the place was buzzing and the terraces were full. You know something special is happening when the ground is surrounded by hawkers selling the mysterious phenomena that is the ‘Dual Scarf’. It’s the one that seemed a good idea at the time you bought it but you know you will never wear again. Maybe it’s designed for the households that support both teams, allowing it to be displayed above the tv in the living room as a constant reminder that rival fans can live together in harmony. I wonder if the ones they don’t sell get cut in half and sewn together again for resale at their respective clubs?

The night in question was the FA Cup replay between Rovers and Liverpool. The ground was packed, or as much as the police would allow, with people you had never seen before nor since. Late into their seats, if only they could find them. They all witnessed the best of Blackburn Rovers on a night when everyone shone brightly like the stars in the sky. Or was that from the drones? 

Now, a few weeks down the line and the season has come down to a last home game against Ipswich. Gary Bowyer will be packing his bags for Pune having prepared his presentation to Mrs D in the knowledge that Financial Fair Play will place a stranglehold on Ewood for some time yet. The reality of the situation is that when Rhodes and Gestede are sold, as they almost certainly will be, then we are left with a few good souls and a collection of ‘journeymen’ to keep us afloat in the Championship. There is no doubt that injuries have brought out the best in those who have stepped up to the task.  Henley and Olsson have been great throughout the season but too many others have under performed. Cairney has too often been a lightweight in midfield, more concerned with keeping his hairstyle than getting stuck in for the team. The look that Rhodes gave him after he greedily went for the glory goal against Millwall rather than pass the ball, said it all. There’s no ‘I’ in TEAM. Marshall has had a very poor season, too often failing to get his crosses over, lift his corners or get his free kicks on target. Brown, we are told, has a ‘magnificent’ work rate and is a key frontman but you can’t help thinking that Bowyer is talking up his ability ahead of the inevitable departure of Gestede. My advice to Brown is to watch Rudi in training and try and learn how to win a ball in the air for once. Never mind we have still got Best around for another year on a reported £32,000 a week. Ask a Brighton fan what they think of him. That’s £1.664 million Rovers haven’t got in the next 12 months which could have been used to pay 10 youngsters with smaller egos and a real hunger for the game. 

So what’s the answer? Youth is the answer. O’Sullivan, Lenihan and Raya all need the chance to show what they can do. Gary Bowyer needs to sort out whether he wants Steele or Eastwood as 1st choice for next season and send the other out on loan. Raya for 2nd choice keeper would be my preference. There surely must be others in the under 21’s who would be eager to show what they could do without bringing in everyone else’s cast offs. How we need a ‘David Dunn’ to thread those passes through to the front two, whoever they may be next season. Cairney could do it, but without strong leadership and coaching you have to wonder whether he will. Oh for a strong, forward running, goal scoring midfielder to emerge from the ranks to supply the forward line with a few different goal scoring options.

This has been a poor season for home supporters. The 12-13,000 crowds officially reported are clearly not really there, as I presume season ticket holders are counted whether they attend or not. Those that only came to see the Liverpool game have no idea what this team has been like over the rest of the season. So many games to forget. So many opportunities missed. Now it’s time to cast off the expectations of a return to the Premier League in the near future and get back to basics with players that are hungry for the chance to play football. Give youth a chance and we may all be surprised.

Today we hope to see a really big crowd just like the Liverpool game and David Dunn on the pitch for some part of the match to give him the send-off he deserves. I’m hoping that he plays for Accrington Stanley next year; that he gets his coaching badges and maybe just maybe comes back to Ewood as part of the coaching staff. Would it be too much to hope that he might make a future manager of Blackburn Rovers?

Let’s hope that Rovers can get back to the future with big games, big crowds and top flight football.

P.S. I’m pleased to report a home win 3-2 over Ipswich watched by nearly 17,000 fans (approx 2,000 from Ipswich). After going behind to a Murphy goal in the 2nd minute Rovers finally hit back with goals from Rhodes, Conway and Gestede before Murphy converted a penalty near the end. However, both sets of supporters went home happy as Ipswich are in the play-offs with a game against local rivals Norwich to look forward to. 

As for David Dunn, he proudly wore the captain’s armband and showed us just what we will be missing next season with some superb forward balls and passes. It was no coincidence that Rovers seemed to lose their way when left the field. He richly deserved the applause he got on being substituted and again during the walkabout. 

Enjoy your Summer break and maybe you’ll come back in August for what we all hope will be ‘Our Season’ 

 

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FA Cup 5th Round – 1964 Style

IMG_6400It’s Saturday 15th February 1964 and Oxford United are about to entertain Blackburn Rovers in the 5th Round of the FA Cup at the Manor Ground. This was to be an historic day for United whatever the scoreline at 5:00 because the expected crowd would be a new record for the club and the City of Oxford, for any sporting occasion. The Chairman Mr. R. S. Coppock tells us in the match programme that due to the Manor Ground being only partly developed and their desire for as many supporters as possible to see the game, temporary terracing has been erected “at high cost”.  This cost, it appears,  has been shared with the Blackburn Directors. In a week where journalists and supporters have questioned the decision by Blackburn and the police to withhold 2,000 tickets from Stoke City fans attending the 5th Round tie at Ewood Park it’s interesting to hear the thoughts of the Oxford chairman:

“In all planning for this match the City Engineer and City Police have given all possible advice and assistance and our grateful thanks goes to them for their co-operation in all details and I appeal to all spectators today to co-operate with the police and stewards to pack themselves in as closely as possible, do not forget that an empty space or terrace anywhere will mean that someone, somewhere, on the ground is having to struggle to see, it may be one of your friends.

Victory for the United today and another home draw could bring the same problem again (what a wonderful thought), the limit on the ground would quite obviously in that case be judged on how you pack today.”

How times and attitudes have changed since 1964.

FullSizeRenderOxford United sit mid-table in the Fourth Division. Their captain today is the now legendary Ron Atkinson. Success today would likely bring another record crowd should they get a home draw and with it the honour of being the first team from the Fourth Tier to reach the FA Cup Quarter Finals.

The Team is as follows:

  1. Harry Fearnley
  2. Cyril Beavon
  3. Pat Quartermain
  4. Ron Atkinson – Captain
  5. Maurice Kyle
  6. John Shuker
  7. Peter Knight
  8. Arthur Longbottom
  9. Bill Calder
  10. Tony Jones
  11. Colin Harrington

FullSizeRender (1)Blackburn Rovers are currently in 2nd spot in Division 1 and bring with them experienced International players from England, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

The team is as follows:

  1. Fred Else
  2. John Bray
  3. Walter Joyce
  4. Ronnie Clayton – Captain
  5. Mike England
  6. Mick McGrath
  7. Mick Ferguson
  8. Andy McEvoy
  9. Fred Pickering
  10. Bryan Douglas
  11. Mike Harrison

A record crowd of 21,700 supporters have ‘packed’ themselves into the Manor Ground. Oxford open the scoring after 13 minutes with a goal from Tony Jones and the home fans go for their Bovril at half-time satisfied with the 1-0 scoreline. Jones gets his second goal early in the 2nd half to send the fans wild before Ferguson, signed from Accrington Stanley after their resignation from the Football League, scores on 68 minutes. However, Oxford are not to be denied their famous victory over a team at the top of the football pyramid when Billy Calder scores Oxford’s third in the closing minutes. The game ends 3-1 in favour of the home side. At the final whistle there is a huge pitch invasion and captain Ron Atkinson is carried off by the fans. He is described in the media as a rock in defence.

The Quarter Final draw brings Preston North End to the Manor Ground to occupy those terraces that Blackburn helped to pay for. This time the ground record was again broken by a crowd of 22,750. Unfortunately Oxford could not repeat their giant killing performance and Preston ran out 2-1 winners.

You can see the highlights of the 5th Round game on YouTube at: http://youtu.be/jaPEdmwdxmQ

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Rovers 94-95 Programmed For Success – Part 3

IMG_5891.JPG“You buy a ticket and take your seat with expectations of seeing a good game. You don’t realise that you’re making history”

This season our season ticket books are pink, our seats are shiny new and Blue, we have reasons to be confident that this will be a season to remember. This is just one supporter’s view with the help of the programmes he bought at every home game during the 94-95 season.
Blackburn Rovers v Everton. Saturday September 10th 1994 Kick-off 3:00pm

Today’s cover picture features Robbie Slater who is one of the new boys this season. He joined Rovers from French club Lens just before the start of the season for £300,000. Robbie was born in Ormskirk but emigrated to Australia when he was just 18 months old. He’s now an Australian International but always wanted to play in England. Looks like a smart decision to join Rovers.
Question: What do the RoverStore and Harrods have in common? The answer is they both stock suede and Italian leather jackets embroidered with the club logo. They are modelled by Graeme Le Saux and the advertisement says that the suede version will cost you £115.00 and the Heavyweight Italian Leather one is £130.00 which is quite a price for 1994

IMG_5893.JPGI can just manage to afford the club tie at £9.99, maybe the corporate boxes will snap them up.
Kenny Dalglish, in his programme notes, is rightly proud of the start that Rovers have made at home with 3-0 and 4-0 wins. He also praises the away fans at the Arsenal game, where Rovers had to play most of the second half with 10 men after Jason Wilcox was sent off.

IMG_5896.JPGThere are photos of the 4-0 demolition of Coventry City where new boy Chris Sutton claimed a hat-trick and Jason Wilcox also got on the scoresheet. I get the feeling there’s a lot more to come from this team.

IMG_5895.JPGToday’s Ewood Hall Of Fame features Bob Crompton. He made 529 League appearances for Rovers, scoring 14 goals, in an incredible career which spanned 23 years at the club. He was born in September 1879 and made his first appearance in 1896 at the age of 17 away at Stoke. His final game as a player would come at Bradford Park Avenue in February 1920. This outstanding full-back made 41 international appearances for England between 1902 and 1914. Captaining his Club and Country would prove to be only a springboard to further success. He became a director of the club and then honorary manager in the mid 1920’s. His 1928 side won the FA Cup, the only medal that eluded him as a player. He had a short spell at Bournemouth but returned to Ewood in 1938 to save Rovers being relegated to Division Three. He sadly died in March 1941 aged 61 but his memory will live on as one of the ‘Greats’ in football for Club and Country.

IMG_5894.JPGColin Hendry features in today’s programme where he talks about “taking one step backwards to take two steps forward”. He initially joined Rovers in March 1987 from Dundee and then manager Don Mackay had to hand over all his transfer funds of £30,000 and agree that they would get a percentage of any future transfer profits. Although he moved on to play for Manchester City for two years he jumped at the chance to return to play for Kenny Dalglish and a club where he was already a legend. ‘Braveheart’ could always be relied upon to put everything on the line for the team, as demonstrated 10 days earlier in the game against Arsenal at Highbury.
Today’s opponents, Everton, arrive with just 1 point on the board and have so far failed to get started in the league. Manager Mike Walker made only one new signing in ex Spurs midfielder Vinny Samways. My programme also features Swedish International winger Anders Limpar who arrived from Arsenal last season for £1.6 million.
The crowd is big today, swelled by a large away following, there are 26,538 at Ewood to see us win comfortably 3-0 thanks to goals from Shearer and Wilcox in the first half and a penalty from Shearer in the 2nd half. We now sit 3rd in the table behind Newcastle and Nottingham Forest, on 11 points.

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Rovers 94-95 Programmed For Success – Part 2

IMG_5764.JPG“You buy a ticket and take your seat with expectations of seeing a good game. You don’t realise that you’re making history”

This season our season ticket books are pink, our seats are shiny new and Blue, we have reasons to be confident that this will be a season to remember. This is just one supporter’s view with the help of the programmes he bought at every home game during the 94-95 season.
Programme: 2 Blackburn Rovers v Coventry City – Saturday August 27th 1994 Kick-off 3:00pm
Today we are back in action against Coventry City; a team that, despite a number of relegation battles, have enjoyed 27 years in the top flight. Their biggest success in recent years was an FA Cup triumph over Spurs in 1987. My programme tells me their biggest defeat was a 2-11 thrashing by visitors Berwick Rangers in the FA Cup 1901. Coventry were known for their frequent change of management. Phil Neal had been handed the hot seat last season after Bobby Gould, walked out following a heavy defeat at Queens Park Rangers.

IMG_5759.JPG
Former Rover Roy Wegerle returns today as a City player. He was transferred to Coventry with Kevin Gallacher coming coming to Ewood. Today Kevin is still recovering from a broken leg so we will need to get the best out of Shearer and Sutton up front. Another City frontman is Mick Quinn, a player who whenever I see him always reminds me of Bob Carolgees. Younger readers will say “Who?” However, if I said ‘Spit The Dog’ then anyone over 30 would probably remember the furry puppet with the unfortunate habit that made him a TV star in the 80’s.

IMG_5760.JPG

IMG_5787.JPGSomeone else with a Coventry connection is Tim Flowers who used to stand on the terraces as a boy at Highfield Road. He arrived from Southampton last season for a £2 million fee which was a British record for a goalkeeper.

IMG_5762.JPGToday’s Ewood Hall Of Fame features Bill Eckersley. The right-footed left back made a total of 406 League appearances, scoring 20 goals in his time with Rovers between the 1947-48 and 1960-61 seasons. He was also capped 17 times for England, often forming a full back pairing with Alf Ramsey.

IMG_5763.JPGHe was one of the smallest and lightest full backs to play international football but was recognised for his clean tackling and powerful kicking. He suffered knee problems during his career and finally retired from football at 35 years of age. He was just 57 when he died, but the former lorry driver from Southport will always be remembered as one of the post-war greats for both Club and Country.

IMG_5761-0.JPGAmongst the photos on display in this programme are shots of our opening game of the season at Southampton. I like this one of the SAS celebrating with the away following.
….And today’s game? A stunning hat-trick for new boy Chris Sutton and one from Jason Wilcox sees us go home happy 4-0 winners with a crowd of 21,657 and 2nd in the table.

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Rovers 94-95 Programmed For Success – Part 1

IMG_5719.JPG“You buy a ticket and take your seat with expectations of seeing a good game. You don’t realise that you’re making history”

This season our season ticket books are pink, our seats are shiny new and Blue, we have reasons to be confident that this will be a season to remember. This is just one supporter’s view with the help of the programmes he bought at every home game during the 94-95 season.

Programme:1 Blackburn Rovers v Leicester City – Tuesday August 23rd 1994 7:45pm

In 1994 £1.50 buys you a Rovers programme. Something to flick through while you’re waiting for the game to start. Give it to the kids to collect a few autographs and maybe to look at when you get home. Tonight’s edition is packed full of the positive thoughts of manager, staff and players who are still riding high after finishing 2nd in the Premiership last season. The cover features Stuart Ripley and Gary Pallister battling for possession during the Charity Shield game at Wembley. We lost the game against Manchester United 2-0 but it was a great day out with over 20,000 Rovers fans making the trip.

IMG_5721.JPGWe learn in the programme that Kenny Dalglish and the players had surprised Jack Walker by asking him to lead the team out at the start of the game. It was a fitting tribute to the man who has given so much to this club.

IMG_5722.JPGAlan Shearer appears in an advertisement for Lex Rover sporting a great head of hair. Where’s it gone now Alan?

IMG_5715.JPGSomeone else with a full ‘Barnet’ is captain Tim Sherwood who looks like he was wired up to the electric socket before the game.

IMG_5723.JPGThere is a section entitled Ewood’s Hall Of Fame which this week features the great Bryan Douglas. The Factfile shows he made a total of 438 League appearances for Rovers between 1954 and 1969 scoring 101 goals. Some achievement.

IMG_5717.JPGThe big story centred on the new boy in Blue & White, Chris Sutton. He had arrived a month earlier and gone straight into the record books by smashing the record for a transfer deal between two British clubs. £5 million for the 21 year old from Norwich City. We didn’t know then that he would go on to form the deadly SAS partnership with Alan Shearer. The Summer Diary gives snippets of news about players and goings-on at Ewood. We learn that Colin Hendry, Tim Sherwood and Jason Wilcox have all signed new contracts and that Kevin Gallacher is making progress after breaking his leg at Highbury last season.
Time now to enjoy tonight’s game against Leicester City, and enjoy it we do as Shearer, Sutton and Berg all get on the scoresheet in a 3-0 win. Sutton had made an impressive debut in our first game at Southampton, providing the ‘assist’ for Shearer to score in a 1-1 draw. Tonight it’s Shearer’s turn to provide the cross for Sutton to get his first league goal in a Blue & White Shirt. All in front of a 21,050 crowd.

Now we’re really looking forward to Saturday and another home game against Coventry City.

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Rovers 94-95 Programmed For Success – The Story Begins

IMG_5726.JPG“You buy a ticket and take your seat with expectations of seeing a good game. You don’t realise that you’re making history”

This season our season ticket books are pink, our seats are shiny new and Blue, we have reasons to be confident that this will be a season to remember. This is just one supporter’s view with the help of the programmes he bought at every home game during the 94-95 season.

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Night Of The Zebra

Rovers form a defensive wall

Rovers form a defensive wall

You don’t see too many zebras in Lancashire. Possibly a trip to Blackpool zoo might provide a glimpse of life on the Serengeti or other far off lands but not ‘Walking Down The Bolton Road’ on a Friday night to see the Blackburn Aces. I did see a horse in a field near Clitheroe with a rather fetching zebra blanket strapped to its back, and whilst the ‘designer’ crowd inhabiting the Ribble Valley probably thought nothing of it, I noticed the other horses in the field were giving him a very wide berth.

Zebra Claims? I didn’t know zebras had many claims in life apart from being fair game to any big cat that happened to be passing through their territory. On Friday night the visitors were just Bluebirds that are made to wear red. Its supposed to be a lucky colour but it didn’t bring a whole lot of luck to Cardiff City last season did it? Outside the ground there was a free for all going on. Grown men and women were fighting over inflatable zebras. Life just isn’t fair is it? I get to the point where these black and white beauties are being given out, only to find they have all gone. There is a Rovers supporter complete with ear studs and tattoos walking past me clutching six of the bloody things. I think about asking him if he’s got one spare but decide against it. Maybe next match?
The teams came out to rapturous applause and a sea of Blue & White from all parts of the ground. There was fierce waving of blow-up zebras from the home terraces and the 2014-15 Championship season had finally got underway. Despite it being screened live on Sky there was a healthy crowd of 15,625 and plenty to be positive about for the season ahead. The stats showed that Rovers had enjoyed 65% of the possession and had certainly been well worth a draw. A goal from ‘Dreadlock Jones’ only spurred on the home side to get back on terms, which they did with an effort from Tom Cairney which will surely be a candidate for goal of the season. There was plenty to be positive about, although our lack of fit defenders is worrying. Jason Lowe is better at right back than he is swanning about in midfield and the experience of Baptiste is evident to see, as he seamlessly slipped across into central defence for the injured Kilgallon.
I’m confident this team will get better and better as the season goes on. I also think that the supporters will keep returning to Ewood in larger numbers – If only to get their hands on one of those zebras.IMG_5576

 

My thanks for the zebra image goes to: <a href=”http://67.222.9.28/animals/zebras-in-african-savanna.jpg.html&#8221; title=”zebras-in-african-savanna”>zebras-in-african-savanna</a> on <a href=”http://www.free-picture.net&#8221; title=”Free Picture”>Free pictures</a>

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‘Would A Song Help? Blackburn Rovers Season Review 2013-14 With A Few Songs Along The Way

20140626-081614-29774659.jpgNot long now to wait before the start of another season in the Championship. The England flags lie in tatters, together with many a betting slip that promised so much but delivered so little. Perhaps now is the time to look at how Blackburn Rovers performed last season with a match by match analysis from a long suffering supporter. There’s hope, despair and a few songs along the way, but at the end a reason to believe in a return to better times:
August 2013
Another year, Another season. Its upon us before we’ve had time to erase the memory of the last. “To Be or Not To Be – That Is The Question.” Gary Bowyer wants to be in a job, Rovers supporters want to be above the relegation places, and the Venkys just want ‘To Be Loved’.
Sunday 4th August Away at Derby and a 1-1 draw is achieved thanks to a rare cameo appearance by Leon Best. The start of something good for him? Probably not.
Wednesday 7th takes us to Carlisle for a Capital One Cup fixture with a ‘Seriously 90’s ‘ feel about it. Goals rain in from Taylor, Cairney and Judge before it rains even harder and we lose 4-3 on penalties. Oh well, no time to waste, concentrate on the League and all that.
Saturday 10th August brings a home game with Nottingham Forest and a chance for 14,469 fans to see just what the new slimline, sleek and above all cheap squad can do.
Not a lot, as we lose 1-0. Ask me at the end of the season and ‘Tell Where I Lie’.
Friday 16th and the impressive Tommy Spurr leads his new team to his old one at the KeepMoat Stadium where Doncaster Rovers again put us to the sword and we lose 2-0. 19th place in the division and everyone is thinking Gary Bowyer will be the first ‘Fall Out Boy’ of the Championship.
The following Saturday 24th August has a crowd of 13,058 wondering what we were worried about as Barnsley come to Ewood Park and are spanked 5-2 with Jordan Rhodes bagging a brace. Just a shame it means ‘Waiting All Night’ to watch the highlights on the Football League Show.
‘About Time’ I say and only a week to wait for another home game with Bolton on Saturday 31st. A Super crowd of 15,828 see a Super game. Did I say winning was Super? (Roy Of The Rovers stuff). It’s 4-1 this time and that man Rhodes is like a ‘Mosquito’ stinging twice just like the week before. Bowyer can’t wait to go into ‘The Blue Room’ and tell the assembled press gang the good news; We are up to 11th place. The Blackburn faithful regroup to various bars and off-licences where all too soon its Sunday and they are ‘Wakin On A Pretty Daze’.
Not a bad August after all.

September 2013

Saturday 14th September. The trouble with ‘Our Version Of Events’ is that it’s never going to match The Dingles version, but with a ‘Pitch Perfect’ for football Rovers have to thank that man Rhodes for making the long coach journey from Burnley more bearable with a face-saving 1-1 draw. Sky employees search through ‘Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor’ but can find little footage worthy of a re-play. Williamson attains legendary status by preventing Burnley from scoring and gets himself a red card in the process. Research scientists collect ‘DNA’ samples from both sets of supporters to discover why this hatred exists but later admit there was a Little Mix up. They are unsure which are the mums or the dads. Some appear to have completely vacant cells.

Tuesday 17th September takes Rovers to see some Foxes. ‘Some Nights’ you just don’t have any Fun and Leicester win 2-1 on the night.

Huddersfield Town come calling on Saturday 21st September looking to hijack Rhodes and take him back across the Pennines but ‘The Truth About Love’ is you don’t always get what you want and both sides are turned off in this 0-0 affair.

Saturday 28th September we travel to the south coast. Even Best gets on the scoresheet with a 3-1 scoreline. Rhodes has packed his shooting boots and grabs a brace. With every goal his value goes up. ‘Long Live A$AP’ I say. At this rate we can sell him in January and buy the team we have been wanting since Steve Kean became manager.
We finish September in 11th place.

October 2013

20140712-211427-76467301.jpgTuesday 1st October and a Jordan Rhodes goal sees us winning 1-0 at Watford with ‘Night Visions’ of a place back in the Premier League as we go up to 8th, but it’s too soon to be thinking of promotion. Too soon to be thinking of enjoying ‘The 20/20 Experience’ but being Justin the mix is ok by me at this stage of the season.
Sunday 6th October is chance for supporters to avenge those awful visions of our passing out of the Prem with a pint & pie at the DW but as the ‘Unorthodox Jukebox’ plays after each home goal we are consigned to a 2-1 defeat. I’ll fly to Mars before Rovers get back in the top flight at this rate.
Saturday 19th October brings Charlton Athletic to Ewood. I decide to search ‘Random Access Memories’ about our previous meetings in order to get an idea if we can win this game, but Daft Punk that I am, it’s 5:00pm and the game is over before I get a WiFi connection in the stands by which time we have lost 1-0.
Saturday 26th October. A trip to the seaside at Blackpool. Some supporters head for the promenade but others go to the match where they witness DJ Campbell coming on as a sub just long enough to see Red. The match ends in a 2-2 draw with the result never in doubt, and the offending ‘tackle’ being replaced on the club video with a shot of a greedy donkey happily grazing on the turf. At the end of October we are in 12th place.

November 2013

Saturday 16th November brings a good crowd of 16,645 to Ewood for a match against Middlesbrough. We like playing teams in ‘Red’. Jason Lowe, ‘Forever’ wide of the mark when it comes to shots on goal, finally hits the target to send us home happy 1-0 winners.
Saturday 9th November – We travel down to Brighton for a game that proves to be a far cry from the ‘Halcyon’ days of our time in the top tier.
Saturday 23rd November and the visit of Reading, one of our main rivals for a play-off place, sees us firing blanks. 0-0 in front of 12,903 supporters.
Saturday 30th November. A crowd of 20,267 with a good smattering of away supporters for the visit of Leeds United, sees Tommy Spurr on the scoresheet for a 1-0 win.
We end November in 13th place.

20140712-210151-75711615.jpgDecember 2013

Tuesday 3rd December. A long trip down to Suffolk for an evening game with Ipswich Town. Buoyed by the narrow victory over Leeds we do get Rhodes back on the scoresheet but give away three goals at the other end, in part due to the increasingly insecure performances of Jake Kean. The ‘Legend’ that is Paul Robinson, is back in training and that could be making our young keepers nervous. Jake played so well last season but has started to ‘Fade’ of late. It finishes 3-1 to the Tractor Boys.
Saturday 7th December and a trip to north London where Simon Eastwood gets his chance to shine in goal. ‘Until Now’ I’ve thought QPR were destined to go straight back to the top tier but all the money of the Middle East or the Mafia can’t always guarantee success. We keep a clean sheet thanks to Eastwood and with three home games to come in December we can surely climb the table soon?

Saturday 14th December. At home to Millwall and a welcome 3-2 win. Ben Marshall has finally found his feet in this team. As he streaks down the wing I can’t help thinking ‘Now That’s What I Call Running’ and he caps it off with a fine goal.

Saturday 21st December away to Yeovil. The team seemed to have spent the entire game in midfield, frightened to go near the Yeovil goal where their mascot patrols. ‘My Head Is An Animal’ he cries from the byline. Bowyer tries to calm the players at half-time by getting them to think of the monsters and men they have known, but it takes until the 90th minute for Rhodes to summon up the courage to score. Rovers finally win 1-0.

Thursday 26th December a draw at home to Sheffield Wednesday 0-0. Christmas is a time for cheer but there is little on display today. Both managers seem ‘Unapologetic’ about their players lethargic performances. This was not so much a boxing match, more a cold turkey in front of the festive fans. You get the feeling we all got stuffed.

Sunday 29th December. We lose at home to Birmingham 2-3 despite 2 goals from Rhodes. We leave Ewood having made up our minds, ‘This Is The Last Time’ we are going to put up with performances like this in 2013. All our Hopes and Fears have been on show over this festive period and things need to change – Fast.
The year ends with Rovers in 12th position.

January 2014

It’s Wednesday 1st January. A trip to ‘The North Borders’ of the football world takes us to Leeds. A 2-1 win thanks to goals from Rhodes and the impressive Gestede, who might just turn out to be the bargain of the season.
Saturday 4th January and Paul Robinson is back! The FA Cup 3rd round brings the BT Sport cameras and a sizeable bunch of hardcore Manchester City supporters to town. Rovers are magnificent and a goal from Scott Dann has us thinking we could be the ‘Dark Horse’ of this competition, but it ends 1-1 and the Perry is put back on ice for another day.
Saturday 11th January brings a home win against Doncaster Rovers 1-0 thanks to another goal from the fast improving Rudy Gestede.

Wednesday 15th January and back on TV with the Cup replay at Manchester City. Time to lay to rest some ‘Demons’ and imagine we can slay a few dragons but ‘Hey Brother’ it’s a bridge too far. Even with Robinson starting in goal we get thumped 5-0 and are forced to ‘Let It Go’ for another year.

Saturday 18th January. We have hit the heady heights of 8th position as we go to Nottingham Forest. Eastwood goes between the sticks today but despite a Marshall goal we let in four. Cries of ‘Timber’ can be heard as we are felled 4-1 by the Forest. Somehow we hold on to 8th place.

Saturday 25th January. As Winter draws to a close, we try again to beat a Rams side shawn of their manager since we last played them with Steve McClaren now shepherding the side. Gestede gets us out of trouble but the game ends in a draw 1-1.

Tuesday 28th January is a game too soon for many as the crowd at Oakwell is just 9,703. Have the hard up fans decided to stay at home? It may be entertaining on the pitch but it’s starting to get predictable. I might have a bet myself. Think I’ll go for a score draw. Cairney and Gestede are the scorers in this 2-2 draw. Bowyer loses it after some strange decisions by the officials.
The month of January ends with Rovers in 9th position.

February 2014

Saturday 1st February and the only home game of the month sees us entertaining a Blackpool side in free-fall. A healthy crowd of 15,045 see goals from old ‘Big Head’ Hanley and David Dunn as Rovers cruise to victory and back into 8th position. I wouldn’t say it was the ‘Best Day Of My Life’ but the fans go home happy.

Saturday 8th February and a trip to Teesside to test out our fast growing confidence. However, the betting syndicates seem to have other ideas and it’s a 0-0 draw thanks to some inspired goalkeeping by Robinson. The rest of the team look like they would ‘Rather Be’ on the International break.

20140713-231653-83813129.jpgSaturday 22nd February. I personally witness one of the strangest games of my life as I sit with the home fans at the Madejski stadium to watch Rovers beat a lacklustre Reading team with a deflected Craig Conway shot. Tom Cairney gets a serious looking ankle injury and mysteriously boo’d by the home fans. ‘All Of Me’ wants to jump up and tell them to lay off him but I decide against that idea. It never really got started as a game of football but it ended 0-1 to Rovers and the dream is on once more.
The end of February and still in 9th position.

March 2014
News comes from the other side of the world that Steve Kean is loving managing his new team DPMM FC from Brunei, who sit in 2nd place in the Singapore S League. When interviewed he said ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’. Well Steve, we all said you were an excellent manager.
Saturday 22nd March. You have to be concerned when the league leaders come to town and despite wearing a dreadful khaki strip, they manage to rip ‘Into The Blue’ while Rovers players stand and watch. How ironic then, that a Kilgallon goal just before half-time would provide the springboard for the best 45 minutes seen at Ewood for a long time. Weeks of boring Winter Coldplay and then 45 minutes of ‘Magic’. Cries of ‘A Good 2nd Half Team’ from the terraces finally ring true.
At the final whistle it’s Rovers 1 Leicester City 1 and we must ‘Let Go For Tonight’, as we accept the Foxes are top dogs.

Tuesday 25th March. A chance to play against an Italian side. A chance perhaps to be ‘Counting Stars’ of the future or will they just be the next set of baristas in Costa. Best seek out a Cafe Republic and find a good Italian blend to raise the caffeine levels for the night ahead. Just as well because there’s no beer inside the ground. Watford try and spoil the party with an early goal from Cassetti but Dunn fools the home defence by wearing gloves to score the reply and set up Conway for another. A harsh penalty and a late Battocchio goal have the Italians thinking it’s all over but Gestede powers in a header on 93 minutes to make it 3-3 on the night.

Saturday 29th March and into the Lions Den. The travelling army prepare to meet the latest batch of ‘Doo-Wops and Hooligans’ bred in Millwall or Mars and the team are fortified by Tuesday’s performance. David Dunn has spent the last three days being rebuilt on the treatment table. There’s no doubt we ‘Need U 100%’ if we’re going to win this one. This Lott could get ‘Nasty’ if Rovers don’t stamp their authority on the game. However, Ian Holloway has fired up the home side but ‘Hey Now’ Blackburn clearly haven’t read The Script as they go for a repeat ‘#3’ goals. London Grammar says its 2 apiece by tea-time and as Winter draws to a close, the draws carry on.

April 2014

Tuesday 1st April and Rovers have fooled Brighton & Hove Albion into finally playing us in the League. Bowyer knows that 3 home games and 9 points in the space of a week will go a long way to settling the argument that Blackburn Rovers are fit for the Play-Offs. Jordan Rhodes notches up his 49th and 50th goal in 89 games which starts to ring alarm bells for Simon Garner, but it’s not enough to win the game as Brighton threaten to do another Italian Job on us at the death although we manage to rescue it and it ends 3-3 on the night.
Saturday 5th April. There has been talk all week about how Rhodes wants to play in the Premier League (with Rovers) and how the club should be offering him a new extension to his contract. I just love this pre-transfer banter, don’t you?
Ipswich Town ride into Ewood on Grand National day and we wonder if half-time will be extended or the Big TV used to provide some entertainment for the dwindling masses. McCarthy (who would have made a safe manager for Rovers) has transformed Ipswich into Play-Off challengers. During the game an ‘Air Balloon’ drifts aimlessly across the stadium. That’s a lesson to Burnley fans saving money on unofficial away travel. We have our sights firmly set on the field of play as Rhodes and Gestede send the Tractor Boys home empty handed. 2-0 to Rovers.
Tuesday 8th April. ‘Arry brings his boys for a kick about this evening. Publicly he’s kept Faith with his expensive team but privately he’s told them I ‘Can’t Rely On You’ and you must do better. Fair Play, the end of season prize has to be worth a gamble but on the night you have to wonder where the money has gone. QPR are poor throughout the game. On the other hand Rovers have a new found confidence. Conway is narrowly beaten to the MOM award by Rudi Gestede, who grabs the 1st goal, with the whole team finally playing as a unit. Robert Green is beaten at the near post by a shot from Tommy Spurr and ironic cries of ‘England’s No.1’ ring round Ewood at a keeper who flapped at everything that came his way. Harry Redknapp cuts a forlorn figure on the touchline, a bit like Paul Ince but with substitutes. They get thrown on but it makes no difference. 2-0 to the Rovers. After the game you don’t blame him for saying there’s ‘Money On My Mind’, after all he’s not just any old Sam, Smith or Harry is he? I think it’s time for this Harry to start the car.

Friday 11th April brings ‘Kids Again’ to Ewood when England Under 18’s Schoolboys entertain Scotland’s finest and they show what a shining Example of the talent there is in this country and over the border. There are no Prima Donnas here. Just an honest endeavour to show off blossoming talent. 1-1 and England win the Centenary Shield.

While Blackburn have been climbing slowly up ladders and sliding down the odd snake, the teams above them have been showing mixed form too. Reading continue to cling onto 6th place despite a very poor string of results. Cherries normally blossom in May but Bournemouth are already blooming. If any one of the chasing pack is going to sneak into the play-offs then it might be them.

Saturday 12th April and Rovers travel to play Sheffield Wednesday. It is the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. Gary Bowyer was in the Nottingham Forest end on that fateful day as a fan for the FA Cup semi-final game against Liverpool. He and Stuart Gray lay wreaths at the Leppings Lane end in front of 96 white seats, each with a red rose on them.
The match today kicks off at 3:07 and Rovers take advantage with goals from Rhodes, Conway and Keane. Unfortunately they can’t hold out and have to settle for a 3-3 draw with Nuhiu getting his 2nd and the equaliser in the 95th minute. Bowyer’s post-match team talk was probably short and to the point – ‘If you don’t like playing on Saturdays I’ve arranged a game on Friday for you. Let’s make it a Good one.’

So Friday 18th April comes with the green and white scarves of Yeovil being held aloft in the Darwen End. Junior home supporters have been warned not to look into the eyes of their scary mascot. In his pre-match interview he says “People say ‘I’m A Freak’ but I’m really just a rather nice guy.” I think we will pass on taking a ‘#Selfie’ with the Yeovil mascot and join the Chainsmokers in the toilets instead. Officially there are 14,353 inside the stadium with 347 from Yeovil but contrary to reports the Venky’s entourage are not amongst us. They choose to entertain the Queen at Ewood the day before. With the sun shining down and no snow expected they surely could have watched this game too, but perhaps they knew this would be a totally ‘Fowl’ affair. As our closest rivals slip up it would have been nice to have got 3 points. I can’t wait to see the season revue on DVD, maybe they will just have the QPR game on a continuous loop. It ends 0-0 and erased from my memory.

Monday 21st April and with Gary Bowyer’s post-match interview still ringing in their ears, players and supporters travel to Birmingham City determined to make amends. The players have had ‘We’re Not Giving Up’ tattoo’d on their heads to make it easier for identification. Now they can see each other it’s easy. 4-0 up at half time and Gary Bowyer is already working on his next interview. Ok, the home side get 2 back in the 2nd half but Rovers win 4-2.

20140713-235627-86187361.jpgSaturday 26th April. Rovers travel to Charlton to see How Green Is My Valley. Rovers decide to give every away fan a scarf with thanks for their support. News reaches home supporters and there is hope that they will get more than a novelty chicken mask at the final game against Wigan. Gestede has said ‘I Will Never Let You Down’ after his hat-trick and promptly obliges with one more to keep the boss happy. Keane and Cairney top off a very successful afternoon with Rovers winning 3-1 at The Valley.

Monday 28th April and the Daily Mail run an article designed to bolster the job prospects of Steve Kean. Apparently he doesn’t think his time at Blackburn has damaged his reputation. In typically bullish mood he tells them “I can count on one hand the number of games when we were really, really poor”. Oh Steve, I hope the therapy goes well for you.

Tuesday 29th April. Rovers don’t play but Birmingham attempt to. They allow our next and final opponents Wigan to cement their play-off place as they themselves slip quietly towards Division 1.

May 2014

Saturday 3rd May. We go into the ‘The Final Countdown’ for our chance to play in the best League in Europe. It’s been pointed out to me that it’s not over yet and that the Championship is decided on goals scored. So if Burnley beat Reading and keep a clean sheet, Brighton lose and we score at least 3 goals (or was that 7?), we go into 6th place. The stakes are high and it’s A Great Big World out there. You have to wonder if forces can fix it and ‘Say Something’ to the respective managers in order for this unlikely scenario to happen.
Thankfully, Rovers have saved the best ’till last. 45 minutes of the most exciting football Ewood has seen for years with the goals to go with it. A goal from Cairney and two from Gestede before half-time have us believing, but Wigan bring us back to earth after the break. A Rhodes goal near the end provides a fitting conclusion to the season as the game ends in a 4-3 win.
Burnley can only draw at Reading but it doesn’t matter as Brighton win at Forest to sneak into 6th place. I stand applauding the players and their children as they take a lap of honour and I can’t help thinking “what if”, but it was not to be. Two of the players youngsters that catch the eye are a young Kilgallon who looks like he could make a useful winger in the future and a mini Robinson, complete with shirt and huge gloves, who seems to have a brilliant right foot. I hope the scouts were watching.
Afterwards Gary says “I’m already looking forward to next season but there is going to be a lot of work ahead. This club needs another three windows before the squad is back where it should be.” I gather SafeStyle are doing a BOGOF deal this summer.
I suppose you have to be ‘Happy’ that we have ended up at the right end of the table this year, albeit not in a promotion place. Blackburn Rovers are definitely back and going in the right direction. The nice thing about this season was that we never had to worry about relegation. I wonder if all those songs helped?
Not long now ’till we play again.

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My thanks to:

August
To Be Loved – Michael Buble
Seriously 90’s – Various Artists
Tell Where I Lie – Fossil Collective
Thriller – Fallout Boy
Waiting All Night – Rudimental
About Time – Cassie
Mosquito – Yea Yea Yeahs
The Blue Room – The Orb
Wakin On A Pretty Day – Kurt Vile

September
Our Version Of Events
Pitch Perfect
Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor
DNA
Some Nights
The Truth About Love
Long Live A$AP

October
Night Visions
The 20/20 Experience
Unorthodox Jukebox
Random Access Memories

November
Forever – Haim
Red – Taylor Swift
Halcyon – Ellie Goulding

December
Legend – Bob Marley
Fade – Jakwob
Until Now – Swedish House Mafia
Now That’s What I Call Running – Various Artists
My Head Is An Animal – Of Monsters And Men
Unapologetic – Rihanna
This Is The Last Time – Keane

January
The North Borders – Bonobo
Dark Horse – Katy Perry
Hey Brother – Avicii
Demons – Imagine Dragons
Let It Go – Idina Menzell
Timber – Pitbull

February
Best Day Of My Life – American Authors
Rather Be – Clean Bandit
All Of Me – John Legend

March
Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – Arctic Monkeys
Into The Blue – Kylie Minogue
Magic – Coldplay
Let Go For Tonight – Foxes
Counting Stars – One Republic
Doo-Wops And Hooligans – Bruno Mars
Need U 100% – Duke Dumont
Nasty – Pixie Lott
Hey Now – London Grammar
#3 – The Script

April
Air Balloon – Lily Allen
Can’t Rely On You – Paloma Faith
Money On My Mind – Sam Smith
Kids Again – Example
#Selfie – The Chainsmokers
Not Giving Up – Saturdays
I Will Never Let You Down – Rita Ora

May
The Final Countdown – Europe
Say Something – A Great Big World
Happy – Pharrell Williams

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