Blackburn Rovers: Fan Photo's #1
Have any football fans anywhere ever had to endure the following tirade of snobbish abuse which was inflicted on the Blackburn supporters by the Pall Mall Gazette: "London witnessed an incursion of Northern barbarians on Saturday, hot-blooded Lancastrians sharp of tongue, rough and ready, of uncouth garb and speech. A tribe of Sudanese Arabs let loose in the Strand would not have excited more amusement or curiosity. Strange words fell on southern ears and curious but expressive sayings filled the air." 1884 FA Cup final; it seems the hatred of Blackburn Rovers and its fans is as deeply entrenched as it is historical.
Although the wretched southern based southern biased media thinks the north of England is nothing more that a barren post apocalyptic wasteland, the truth of the matter is that this is where the game took root.
Southern football fans, particularly London fans, enjoy participating in that most English of pastimes, rank snobbery.
Rovers' fans tend to be sneered at as nothing more than the imbecilic characters from Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights; all "Ecky-Thump" and "Ee-By-Gum". Yet from the sublime to the ridiculous like Bobby Moor playing his final game in English football for Fulham at Ewood Park or Rovers’ David Wagstaffe being the first player in English football to be sent off for a red card, (later in the afternoon George Best, then at Fulham, was sent off at Southampton for swearing) Rovers fans have seen it all.
Still, even in Rovers Premier League winning team of '95 there were players that thought they were bigger than the club and
that Rovers' fans were mere upstarts or a collection of country bumpkins with no pedigree. It's a sad reality that the likes of Sherwood and Ripley in particular thought that they were 'above it
all', Shearer had a brazen arrogance and is even known for it in the north east, and to his eternal shame Kevin Gallagher branded Rovers supporters who initially protested against the destruction
of their grand old club by the Venkys as an "embarrassment" in one of the countries posh broadsheet newspapers; welcome to the new breed of millionaire footballer.
Blackburn is the cradle of English football and was one of the first industrialized towns in the world at the hub of the British Empire, it is nestled in the Pennine foothills, surrounded by some of the countries most beautiful countryside, just twenty miles from two of England's greatest cities and one of the countries most famous seaside resorts and some of the wealthiest real estate in England in the Ribble Valley to the north and Cheshire not too far to the south; yet these smirking metropolitan media hacks disregard our history with sniggering old fashioned snobbery and astonishing arrogance. More respect should be shown.
Blackburn Rovers are one of only three clubs to have been both a founder member of the Football League and the Premier League; the others being fellow Lancastrian's Everton and Warwickshire club Aston Vila.
Blackburn Rovers are the only Football Club to be founder members of the Premier League and Football League and Champions of both.
During the 1880's, the dominance of the upper-class southern public school, army and university teams came to an end as the game took root in the industrial heartlands of Lancashire and the west and north Midlands.
Even though clubs like Blackburn Rovers were formed by middle-class grammar school boys, with the participation of the working-class, both as players and spectators, the game eventually ceased to be the exclusive pursuit of the genteel middle and upper-classes and became a mass spectator sport.
The Football Association bowing to pressure from clubs like Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa and because of the heroic success of Blackburn Olympic finally recognized professionalism and the balance of power shifted decisively north.
Over a hundred years later and none of this is recognized by the contemptible BBC or SKY TV. Listen to any commentary and the pundits and commentators will garnish the viewer with detailed analysis of every bit of eye-watringly boring statistic there is about the usual self styled cosy cartel at the top of English football - Liverpool, Everton, Manchester United, Arsenal and Totenham Hotspur were the traditional 'platinum five' - in recent years Chelsea and Manchester City have gatecrashed the party but that's ok, we can now call them the 'magnificent seven' because at least they're Manchester and London clubs.
Extremely rare is any recognition of the magisterial history, tradition and decency of Blackburn Rovers; the ferocious loyalty of its fans goes unrecognized; the poetry or romance of former players and managers returning to Ewood Park to play against Rovers is simply ignored; Rovers tenacious cup history is overlooked; when Rovers beat so-called better teams excuses are trotted out about the injury crisis at that club yet any Rovers absences go unmentioned; the famous traditional blue 'n' white halves are never acknowledged; former players returning to play against Rovers when they have been a product of Rovers' Youth Academy are never mentioned; instead, players like Phil Jones at Manchester United are spoken of as if they came through United's youth ranks rather than Rovers'.
Of course there's always the obligatory comments about being in "deepest Lancashire" or the "moors above Ewood Park" or the "rain" or the "grim northern weather"; you'd think they'd come to watch a game of football in outer Mongolia.
The brazenly biased over emphasized and elaborate detailed analyses of the intricate politics and goings on at southern clubs like Queens Park Rangers, Portsmouth and of course the media darlings of West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur unashamedly persist season after season.
The match commentary and punditry is generally appalling as these over paid sofa monkeys on the TV snuggle up to one another, pat each other on the back and carefully avoid any real objective criticism of the diving by their over paid pals out on the pitch and all the other forms of cheating that is rife within the game. Surely this is a conflict of interest?
Radio listener phone-in shows are not treated as such; they are vehicles for radio presenters and footballers to tell the listening audience what to think and those that have the temerity to phone-in and critisise the jiggerypokery and shenanigans going on in football are shouted down the line at in the most disrespectful of ways.
This is a gravy train but when it came to slandering, smearing and misinforming the public about the Rovers' protest movement that sprung up in response to the insane Venkys, these chicken-hawks suddenly found their brave voices and were more than willing to spread slander and smear the decent folk that support Blackburn Rovers who were fighting for the very soul of their club; labeling them as a "disgrace" and "the worst fans in the country".
The Venkys early talk of Maradonna or Ronaldo coming to Blackburn Rovers might have had Rovers fans squirming with embarrassment but this misses the point - the only reason this was 'embarrassing' at all was because the corporate media and any football fan south of the River Mersey were belly laughing into their frothy cappuccinos. When over rated clubs like Porstmouth or bland nondescript clubs like Fulham were talking of signing these same players the southern media nodded solemnly and sagely discussed the possibility of such moves.
Good players for these small southern clubs are talked of as future England prospects, yet good players at Rovers are totally ignored. The subtext here is that if a player wants to improve his career he must leave a club like Blackburn Rovers. This makes it almost impossible for Rovers to keep hold of the likes of David Bentley as he seeks an England call up at Spurs or some other such club.
This perpetuates the cosy cartel at the top making it almost impossible for clubs like Rovers to build, develop and progress. Players allow their heads to be turned and then having once left Rovers they struggle to improve - well looked after and nurtured at Blackburn Rovers - they are small fish in big ponds elsewhere and struggle to survive.
On or off the pitch, there is a quiet determination within media to denigrate Blackburn Rovers.
The BBC always did like to film the old cobbled streets and tram lines outside Ewood Park before it was rebuilt. They'd sometimes have the soundtrack of a brass band playing in the background - all Hovis, flat caps and the land that time forgot.
Their favourite trick when interviewing Rovers fans is to usually interview old men and old women - old men with flat caps even better - in order to cement this backward, sleepy, uneducated image. We should not be ashamed of our heritage but the BBC and the rest of the corporate whore media use it to scoff; such shameful cultural stereotyping could almost be called a form of "inverse/social racism"
This harms the image of the club and the town. It might prevent players, their families and even businesses from wanting to relocate to Blackburn.
But then, that has always been the objective.
30,000 Rovers fans head to Wembley. Rovers 1 v 0 Charlton Athletic. Full Members Cup Final, Sunday, 29th March 1987.