Who are you? We’re Blackburn (for the last time this season)


This posting started out as a simple desire to maintain tradition. Stoke fans are making us sweat for later in the week, but Salut! Sunderland has managed to find an opposing fan for every forthcoming game since we launched the Who Are They? feature in the middle of last season. This season, that has meant finding five Blackburn Rovers fans, Mike Delap*, to his relief and ours, is the last one. There HAS to be a result tomorrow night. Doesn’t there? Well, yes, but there has to be a game first. If it’s called off, this preview/commentary on our two clubs will be withdrawn and wheeled out again when the time comes. Thank you, Mike, pictured (right, with his best mate Luke Johnson on the left, with his father-in-law Ian Futter), and for being a Geordie’s son who cannot stomach the Mags. Salut! Sunderland readers should check out the Vital Blackburn site, where Mike is a regular contributor. And let us hope you are right in saying we’ll be playing each other all over again next season and in the Premier…

That’s one win apiece, two draws and now there has to be a decider! At least we won’t see each other again this season – how will this one go?

Can I start by saying that I am absolutely sick of the sight of Sunderland this season! It’s not that I dislike Sunderland, in fact I have no grudges at all (for grudges please see: Hotspur, Tottenham and United, West Ham) but the fact we are about to play you for the 5th time this season is frankly crazy!

All the games have been tight tense affairs and it is a show that the teams are evenly matched this season. As for the “decider” as we are at home and I am an optimist at heart, I am going to go for a blue and white army win, if you were to hold a gun to my head (please don’t) I would say a 2-0 victory with McCarthy and Pedersen scoring.

Coventry at home. Can’t be a better incentive (excellent chance of passing to the quarter finals) for either team. See yourselves in the final?

It was a kind draw in retrospect. A home draw against a Championship side is more than we could have asked for. Both sides have had the carrot dangled in front of them. But to give credit where it is due – we lost 4-1 to Coventry City at home in the third round last season! Granted, we played a bonified second string side but it goes to show that you can’t disrespect sides of Coventry’s quality, they will punish you if you do.

Having said all that – I still feel it is a tie that will provide an excellent chance of getting to the quarter finals, if we can get past your good selves.

And will it take your mind off the league?

I hope not. I am all up for a good cup run but nothing should take away from the fact that our league status is top priority. That is the main goal this season and if it means chucking in everything else then so be it. There is another side of the coin if you were for me though.
I am a true believer that you can’t beat the habit of winning. If a team gets a good cup run going then the league form actually improves along with it. It has happened to us before and it can happen again.
However, if you asked me to choose then I would say league over cup but I am going to be greedy for once.

Come to that, will we be playing each other again at all next season? If not, that means one of us going down – which one and why?

I strongly believe that we will be seeing each other next season for all the right reasons. Sunderland are a side which have a strong backbone and a passionate support. They have the resources to keep themselves afloat. Rovers on the other hand are in a position which belies the quality of the first XI.

If Rovers went down then i would be due to two factors – 1) the damage would of been done early during the Ince days and 2) the players hadn’t performed to the standard we have seen them do before. No way should we be getting relegated with fully motivated players of the like of Benni McCarthy, Stephen Warnock, Morten Gamst Pedersen and Chris Samba – to name only a few.

If Sunderland were to go down, the only reason I can think of, and I don’t mean this as a shot at all, is that their manager reminds me of a coach not a manager. Ricky Sbragia to me – whilst very charismatic and sensible does not look to have “it”, by “it” I mean that little something extra it takes to be a consistently good manager. I could be wrong but that is my opinion.

How do you think the credit crunch is going to affect top flight football?

The main thing I can think of is that it will make European footballers from the continent more expensive for purchase. If you bought a bike from abroad now it would cost more than a year ago – the same goes for footballers.

Furthermore on a more domestic level, English clubs will be less inclined to take risks. If a club sees a promising player coming through the ranks of a rival they would be inclined to bid for him. However if they are asking too much you will see more and more clubs back off and stick to what they have.

Clubs will tighten their belts like me and you and will wait for this whole media exaggerated “credit crunch” to blow over before becoming more financially active again.

What did you make of Glen Mullan’s insistence that his boys support Wigan because that’s where they now live?

If that is Glen’s rule then that is his rule. I am certainly in no position to tell Glen what to do with his family! It is not a rule I would force on anyone in my family but then I am different. Glen is a respected, intelligent and highly regarded member of our great site and he has my respect.

I am originally a Mancunian Rovers fan so I can’t really speak frm experience anyway!

My rule when it comes to who you support is different – you support who you support for whatever reason but once you have committed to them then that is it – you stick with them through thick and thin. Kind of how most people would their women!

Unless of course you are a glory supporter in which case I wouldn’t give them the time of day (sorry my personal choice).

Blackburn’s glory seasons. Were you around for them. How much do you miss them, or what older fans have told you about them?

I most certainly was around for them and I remember it like it was yesterday. To see my team, a supposed “small club” win the big one bought a tear to my eye and I will die with those images.

I miss them because they made me happy but I don’t miss them as well because I would support Rovers if the glory days happened or not.

The one thing I would say about the glory era of 92-96 is that I feel priveliged to have been alive and witnessed what i did because I am fully aware that they may never ever happen in my life time but no-one can ever take them away from me.

Whilst we are on the subject of the glory days can I quickly take time to mention the late, great Jack Walker. Without him none of that would of ever happened and we all at Blackburn owe everything to him – he was a great man and he is still the reason we are where we are now. When people compare how he bought the title to Rovers and what Man City are trying to do and what Chelsea have done it makes me sick.

The motives behind Jack’s reasons and the City/Chelsea situations are completely different. Jack did it because he loved his club – the other two couldn’t give a hoot.

What’s your honest view of Sunderland: the club, the fans, the city, the Stadium of Light, Roker Park (assuming you are familiar with all or any or the last three)? And what about Newcastle United?

Well I must point out first that my Dad is a Geordie and a life time long Newcastle supporter – I love my Dad but I don’t love his team. He is fully aware of all of this and accepts this. I don’t really like Newcastle at all – they are like Tottenham to me in that they think they are a lot better and the world owes them something.

As for Sunderland, I don’t mind Sunderland at all. I love Niall Quinn as I think he speak a tremendous amount of sense and is articulate. That negates the fact that Keiron Richardson and Anton Ferdinand play for you – I dont like either of them as I think they are egotistical children who only care for themselves. So I guess this evens itself out.

The fans however are a great bunch, they travel in numbers and rarely cause any trouble at all which they are to be commended for.

The Stadium of Light is an excellent stadium that creates a good atmosphere. My missus is actually going there for a Take That concert in June so she can witness first hand what a nice stadium Sunderland have. (yes I know Take That are rubbish but she seems to like them.)

Who are the Rovers’ celebrity fans? Jack Straw, if being a politician makes you one, and the motorcyle racer (sorry, forgotten his name)…anyone else?

Well the only two I can think of that you haven’t mentioned are Sammy Winward from Emmerdale and Wayne Hemmingway if you call either of those celebrities. The motorbike racer you are thinking of is Carl Foggarty!

As far as players go, current players David Dunn and Matt Derbyshire are life long Rovers fans and many would consider Tugay a fan of the club as well.
And if you count Sasman from Vital Blackburn as a celeb then I guess he is one too!!!

Club v country. Who wins for you, and why?

Club all the way for me. I love being English and I love most of the people here but as my girlfriend pointed out to me the other day – people only seem to get patriotic for the football and not for anything along the lines of St.Georges Day anymore which is sad.
Rovers on the other hand are my first love and I would take another Premier League win over a World Cup win any day.

* Mike Delap on Mike Delap:
My full name is Michael Delap, I am 24 and I have lived in Sheffield for the last sixyears, after attending university here. I have a wonderful girlfriend Becky who I am extremely lucky to have as well as a great Mum and Dad, 2 brother and a sister. I work as a sales executive for a company called Holiday City (if you need a holiday just ask!) which invariably involves me working long hours but I love what I do.
I am originally from Manchester and lived there 18 years of my life before moving to Sheffield.
I started supporting Rovers around the age of 4/5 when I was invited to a game by a school friend and his Dad. I went to Ewood, fell in love with the place and never looked back. I attend matches regularly and have been through the up and down with the team ever since.
My favourite current players are Ryan Nelsen, Jason Roberts and Matt Derbyshire.
I originally joined Vital Blackburn as a member in early 2005 (Walker the boss can correct me on this if I am wrong) and after a year or so of my commitment, posts and comments I was asked by Walker to become a journalist for the site. Since then we have all worked really hard as a unit churning out the articles and columns that make the site what it is today. I really enjoy the work I do for the site and it has grown with me and the others that work with the great members we have.

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