1962-63 Football In The Freezer – Revisited

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I stand on the touchline watching a match that would not have been played 50 years ago. You see the thermometer is reading -2deg C and there is 4″ of snow everywhere. That is everywhere but here. This is Ewood Park and the pitch itself is green and capable of taking a stud thanks to the undersoil heating system that’s been installed.

My mind wanders and I think back to my childhood. Suddenly it’s Boxing Day 1962. I awake to a bedroom that has been rearranged into chaos, but it’s my chaos. On my bed there is a long woollen sock which yesterday contained some of the items now strewn around the room. Down at the toe end there is still an orange, a chocolate bar and some nuts. A Christmas stocking wouldn’t be complete without these items. The orange and chocolate would get eaten but the nuts I would return to the bowl downstairs. Does any 11 year old boy eat nuts? Still, it was a tradition, a ritual that my family and millions of others would perform every year. You may be poor but to get oranges, chocolates and nuts at Christmas you were a rich man indeed.

LION Comic 1963 League Ladders

LION Comic 1963 League Ladders

I glance up at the football league ladders on my wall. Reading FC are in mid table in the 3rd division. Sundays were normally the day to study the newspaper and rearrange the little cardboard names on the ladders into their rightful position in each league. League ladder charts were the best free gift you could get from a comic. The only thing that ever came close was the cardboard triangle that sounded like a gun as you snapped it through the air, annoying any adult within hearing range. Dressed, my first job would be to check the Guinea Pigs in their hutch which had been moved to the relative warmth of the garage. They, or me were unaware that this winter was going to be different. This was the winter of 1962-63.

We go for a walk ON the Thames

We go for a walk ON the Thames

My parents had memories of the winter of 1947 and the hardships that it brought with it, but for me this would be a new experience. It started snowing on 17th November 1962 and the big freeze would last until 5th March 63. In early January of that year the snow would be lifted off the fields and deposited into the lanes around our village in snowdrifts 15 foot deep. The village was cut off to the outside world. I would not go to school for 3 weeks, a young lad’s dream. Our lifeline was the village shop. A complete emporium selling everything you could ever want. From freshly sliced bacon to wonderful bread and cakes which were baked on the premises. My favourite was Berkshire Lardy Cake. A highly sugared and full fat cholesterol delight which was much prized in our household. It was only bettered by mum’s steamed ginger pudding which had to be eaten with either golden syrup or butter and sugar on top. As mum would say “Food to keep you warm, food to ‘stick to your ribs.”

This winter would devastate all sport. The racing stables of nearby Lambourne and East Ilsley would see the horses tucked up in their stalls for many weeks with no prospect of their next race and football would be almost wiped out for the next 11 weeks.

Boxing Day saw 19 of the 46 Football League games postponed, with a further 3 abandoned.

Police watch from the touchline at White Hart Lane

Police watch from the touchline at White Hart Lane

On December 29th the blizzards that had swept across Devon and Cornwall, fog covering the Midlands and the North, combined with bitterly cold temperatures down to -9deg C put paid to 26 of the 46 planned League games.

By January 5th a slight thaw which had started in Europe had reached parts of the South, West and up to the Midlands, but came too late to save all but 5 of the 32 FA Cup third-round ties.

Jimmy Armfield skates on Bloomfield Road pitch

Jimmy Armfield skates on Bloomfield Road pitch

On January 8th, the rearranged FA Cup ties would have to be postponed. The Guardian printed a wonderful photograph of Jimmy Armfield of Blackpool FC skating across the frozen pitch at Bloomfield Road. To date 145 out of 211 Cup and League matches had succumbed to the weather.

During January I would build an igloo from 12″ thick blocks of snow and ice from our front garden. The igloo would stand until early March, giving many hours of play within its icy walls.

Towards the end of January and through much of February the temperatures would fluctuate, leading to mini thaws in some parts of the country, leading to flooding. However these thaws would be short lived as blizzards would once more sweep the country and keep us all in an icy grip.

A letter from the rather aptly named J. M. Winterbottom to the Guardian published on January 28th 1963 put the blame for the Arctic conditions squarely onto the weathermen who in his words stated

“This present Arctic spell follows the arbitrary adoption of degrees centigrade by the weathermen. Things were rarely as bad when we were on the old Fahrenheit scale.”

John Samuel wrote on February 8th that 420 Cup and League games had been postponed in just under seven weeks. He estimated the total liability of the 92 clubs to be approximately £450,000, spread out in the form of overdrafts and FA and directors’ loans. Not a lot in today’s money but a small fortune in 1963.

Clearing the pitch of snow at Birmingham City

Clearing the pitch of snow at Birmingham City

Undersoil heating was already known to be an answer to the problem of frozen pitches. The surface at Murrayfield had helped men with odd shaped balls to continue to play Rugby when others would have no option but to turn to indoor sports. This was achieved by electrical wiring laid under the turf. Everton were the first football club to use this method in 1957 during ground reconstruction but had to dig them up in 1960 when further drainage work became necessary. So during the winter of 1962-63 no club had heating installed. Mr W. Dickinson, the Everton secretary at the time said it had cost them around £16,000 to install, with part of this cost down to the need to install a separate sub-station from the floodlights to carry the load. They were planning to re-install the wiring during the summer of 63.

Mr F. R. Osborne, the general manager of Fulham thought differently about undersoil heating. He said “We have three or four thousand season ticket-holders, a thousand or more over 50 years old. If we had electrical wiring, and I don’t think we can afford it, how many people would turn out in a blizzard even though the pitch was playable?”

Fulham FC also gave a financial insight on February 8th with the following facts:

Bank overdraft increased by £10,000 since December

The weekly wage bill stood at £1,200 for a staff of 50, including 40 professionals and apprentices.

£700 had been spent on attempts to clear the ground of snow.

Laundry and other incidentals would take the total outgoings above £10,000

Their only income was the £1,200 share of receipts from the Cup game with West Ham.

Some took a longer term view of the lack of income by saying that the crowds would come back in greater numbers when the matches were finally played and this would ultimately be more rewarding than trying to get supporters to come through the turnstiles in bitterly cold weather.

It would be the ninth week of this cold winter, on February 23rd, that more than half the Football League games would be played and the first time since December 28th that the football pools would operate without the help of the pools panel.

Skating at The ShayHealth & Safety nightmare?

Skating at The Shay
Health & Safety nightmare?

March 2nd brought some good news for football fans in as much as only 14 Football League matches were postponed, the best Saturday in eleven weeks. Halifax FC were one of those postponed but the Shay ground was opened to the public as an ice rink, where hundreds flocked to take part. Whilst this brought in some welcome revenue it would not prevent them from being relegated to the 4th Division at the end of the season.

The Football League ladders on the wall of my bedroom were not the only thing that failed to move during those 11 weeks. Shortly after Christmas we woke up to find that our water supply had frozen. The only option was to run a hosepipe from the house next door into our water tank in the loft. It would be March before the supply pipe could be dug up, only to find that it had been installed a mere 4″ below the surface.

If you are off to a football match in the next few days make sure you wrap up really warm. Think I might take some chocolate and an orange too, but I won’t bother with the nuts.

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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


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.

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_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=”; 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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