The Blackburn ‘Who are You?’: nearly getting Zidane and wanting Martin O’Neill

Jake poses the question

We were not so much let down as ignored by a promising Blackburn Rovers candidate who – sorry to be cryptic – is important enough to have intermediaries, one of whom did his utmost to pull it off. Heroically, our old friend Mike Delap*, who runs the The Wild Blackburn Rover site overcame jet lag to do the honours, with some cracking replies, just after returning from a trip to New York …

Where does the Blackburn passion come from?

It’s just something that has developed over time, I got taken to a Rovers game back in 92 when I was a young whipper snapper by a friends Dad who knew I had mo allegiance and I never stopped.

Growing up in Manchester Rovers were not at all fashionable but I was taken in by the excellent atmosphere around the club and the excitement of backing what many would see as an underdog.

Not what many would consider to be a normal reason to start following a team but I’ve been a Rovers fan for twenty years this year and not once has my support wavered.

Jake hopes tonight's our night

Ever been tempted by “big” clubs or are you just biding your time for Rovers to become one again?

The fact Rovers are not considered “big” has no bearing on my support in the slightest.

I would support our boys if we were relegated in four consecutive seasons. It’s about being loyal and I’ve never been tempted by the seemingly easier options of the Manchester United’s of this world.

I believe being a Rovers fan makes you part of the club and like your own, actual real life family you NEVER stray, your club is your club. Women may tell you differently but size doesn’t matter.

Are you old enough to remember what was it like to be a Blackburn supporter during the years when you topped the league and represented England in Europe?

Absolutely. I was only about 10 at the time but the memory of winning the title at Anfield and having the likes of Shearer, Sutton, Hendry, Sherwood and Flowers in the side is a memory that is ageless.

We never really had a good run in Europe but I can take that little era of excellence with me to the grave.

Name one high and one low of supporting Blackburn.

High: outside of the obvious witnessing the Rovers career of the peerless Tugay on a weekly basis. So gifted and just fantastic… Loved being a Rover too.

Low: the relegation of the club back in 99 and the current demise of the club under those useless self servers who run it now.

Greatest player you’ve seen, or wish you’d seen in Blackburn colors?

Apart from the aforementioned Tugay who is THE best I really enjoyed the Rovers career of Ryan Nelsen.

He was far from the most talented player you’ll see but his attitude and desire made him one of the best.
Image: Stefano
As for a fantasy player I’d of loved to have seen Zinedine Zidane at Rovers. You may laugh but we actually turned down signing him back in the mid 90s as we ‘already had Tim Sherwood. Such a cruel near miss.

And worst?

We’ve had our fair share of stinkers – Darren Peacock, Corrado Grabbi, Christian Dailly, Ashley Ward and Bruno Berner.

But the worst for me is probably Vince Grella. Not a bad player per se but he’s been that injured for the last four years he’s robbed a living from the club.

Protests against Venky’s and Steve Kean? Righteous anger or misplaced rage?

At Kean I’d say at times it’s been over the top if not misplaced where as at Venky’s it’s like hitting a nail on the head.

The anger at Venky’s is very real and it needs to be recognised and investigated by a governing body.

Look at Pompey, Leeds and Rangers… That could be us soon.

Given, Michael Gray, Allardyce, Diouf and more: which links between our clubs stand out for you?

Difficult one because Sunderland and Blackburn don’t have many strong links but I did used to appreciate the efforts of Michael Gray.

And I know the high regard in which you hold him.

Click here for the Martin O’Neill ‘Team of all Talents’ mug: £9.50, post-free for UK buyers, from the Salut! Sunderland Shop

Do you wish you had Martin O’Neill?

Yes, next question.

Who will finish top four, in order, this season?

Man City (bias alert, my brother is a Citizen)
Man United

Hand on heart, who will go down?

Wolves, Wigan and QPR. I honestly believe we’ll stay up based on our post Christmas form.

It WILL be close but we’ve got the players to do it even if the manager is at best ordinary.

If not mentioned, where will each of our clubs finish?

Sunderland – 11th
Rovers – 17th

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Which form of cheating in football most annoys you and who is the worst culprit?

The imaginary waving of cards to try and get another player cautioned, it should be an automatic booking such is the blatant lack of professionalism involved.

And for the worst offender I’d say pick any Chelsea player.

Club versus country: which comes first and why?

Club. The country still means a lot to me but I struggle to fully back odious mercenaries like Terry and Cole.

Will you be at our game? If not how will you keep tabs? And what will be the score?

I am afraid I have only today (Monday) returned from a New York trip so I am in no fit state to make the trip such is the backlog of work I have to tackle.

I will of course stream the game and I believe it is a good time to play Sunderland in the absence of Sessegnon and with your cup commitments. Both teams score but I’ll take us to edge a five goal thriller… We do need the points more after all!!!

Interview: Colin Randall

4 thoughts on “The Blackburn ‘Who are You?’: nearly getting Zidane and wanting Martin O’Neill”

  1. Apropros nothing in particular in this piece, I really wanted Blackburn to do well this season (not tonight, obviously) if only to see the headline “Formica tops table”…………Sorry, I’ll get my coat

  2. I well remember the game you were at, Goldy. Quinny had spent the netire game making Craig Short look a complete and utter mug. The Big Man had scored two and he went off with 10 minutes to go, handing over to Kevin Kyle. He had a word with our Andy Carrol prototype and clearly told him that Short was at breaking point. Short then clattered into the former Stranraer baggage handler and was requested to leave the field by the refereee. Oh, how we laughed!!!

    • Can you remember if it was a christmas game? Am i right in thinking it was the period when Claudio Reyna used to boss games for us?

  3. Remember Kevin Gallagher scoring there as a 16 year old, me being 16 not him, obviously. An 89th minute winner after a more than decent performance by us, a summation of that 96/97 season where a less than average squad proudly showed the disgraceful management and playing staff of the 02/03 and 05/06 seasons how to conduct yourself.

    Other stand out memories of my many visits there are the 98/99 season when we turned up there for an F.A Cup game, and another year when we won 4-0.

    For the cup game we arrived flying in the second tier and we all know what a good foundation of a team we had there. We battered them on the pitch but were outdone by ex Spewcastle crater-face fiend Kieth Gillespie (I think). As an 18 year old I couldn’t afford to go to the pub so me and my mates went to the Blackburn Aldi and bought cheap wine before drinking it on the street and pestering the locals with our charver-like charm. I have changed, don’t hold it against me.

    The 4-0 one, I can’t remember the exact year, we could of had 6 and it was a christmas fixture I think. Souness said they made us look like Brazil but were far from it in his typical manner of playing the victim, smugly and arrogantly trying to dismiss the opinion of anyone who hasn’t played football at the top level. He probably learned the victim approach whilst at the hotbed for it, Liverpool. He’s probably been smug and arrogant all his life as he’s just a pr**k

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