Blackburn Rovers Football Club is an English Premier League football club based in the town of Blackburn, Lancashire. It is one of only three teams to be founder members of both the Football League and the Premier League, the others being Aston Villa and Everton.
Blackburn Rovers Football Club was established in 1875, and in 1888 became a founding member of The Football League. In 1890 Rovers moved to its permanent home at Ewood Park. Until the formation of the Premier League in 1992, the majority of the club's success was pre-1930 when they won the league and FA Cup on several occasions, and their relegation in 1966 was followed by 26 successive seasons of football outside the top flight.
In 1992, Blackburn were promoted to the new Premier League a year after being taken over by local steel baron Jack Walker, who installed Kenny Dalglish as manager. In 1995, Blackburn became league champions, having spent millions of pounds on players like Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton But the title winning team was quickly split up and, in 1999, the club were relegated. They were promoted back to the Premiership two years later, just after Walker's death, and have been in the top flight ever since. During this time they have qualified for the UEFA Cup four times; once as League Cup winners, twice as the Premiership's sixth-placed team and once via the Intertoto Cup.
The club's Latin motto "Arte et labore", which was used by the town council before the club were formed, literally translated means "by art and by labour".
The first match played by Blackburn Rovers took place in Church, Lancashire on 18 December 1875 -- and was a 1-1 draw. Although the make-up of the team was not recorded it is generally thought to be: Thomas Greenwood (goal), Jack Baldwin, Fred Birtwistle, (full-backs), Arthur Thomas, J. T. Sycelmore (half-backs), Walter Duckworth, John Lewis, Thomas Dean, Arthur Constantine, Harry Greenwood, Ed Youngson (forwards), in a 2-2-6 formation.
At the time, the club had no ground of its own and no gate receipts. The only income came from members' subscriptions, which totalled £2 8s 0d during the first season.
During the 1876–77 season, Rovers finally gained a ground of its own by renting a piece of farmland at Oozehead, on the west side of town facing Preston New Road. The ground was little more than a meadow with a pool in the middle that had to be covered with planks and turf for matches. But it did allow the club to collect gate receipts totalling 6s 6d for the season. Occasional games were also played at Pleasington Cricket Ground.
Subsequently Blackburn Rovers rented Alexandra Meadows, the home of the East Lancashire Cricket Club, for their matches. The inaugural game at Alexandra Meadows was played against Partick Thistle, the most prestigious club Rovers had played until then. The result was a 2–1 win for Blackburn, with two goals from Richard Birtwistle.
On 28 September 1878, Blackburn Rovers became one of 23 clubs to form the Lancashire Football Association. On 1 November, 1879 the club played in the F.A. Cup for the first time, beating the Tyne Association Football Club 5–1. Rovers were eventually put out of the competition in the third round after suffering a heavy 6–0 defeat by Nottingham Forest.
Controversy erupted during 1880 when the club used players not from Blackburn to fill in for unavailable team members — this violated what, at the time, was considered an important principle of the LFA. The situation became worse at the start of the 1881 season when a Darwen player transferred to Blackburn Rovers. The move caused a great deal of bitterness between the clubs and local populations. Accusations of professionalism began to fly, with Darwen accusing Blackburn Rovers of offering the player in question, Fergie Suter, improved terms. However, Suter had initially moved to Darwen from Scotland and given up his trade as stonemason to play for the club. So the professional/amateur divide was already blurred. Nevertheless, subsequent matches between Blackburn Rovers and Darwen were fractious affairs both on and off the pitch. The teams were drawn against each other in the fourth round of the Lancashire Cup, and the clubs refused to agree on a date for the match. As a result the LFA ejected both teams from the competition. This type of controversy would only be resolved five years later in 1885 with the legalisation of professionalism.
During the 1881–82 season, the club continued to rent the facilities at Alexandra Meadows, but began to look towards a move elsewhere. As the leading club in the area, it was felt that Rovers needed its own ground. A ground was leased at Leamington Street and £500 was spent on a new grandstand capable of seating 600-700 spectators. Boards were placed around the pitch to help prevent a repeat of the crowd troubles with Darwen, and a large ornate entrance arch was erected bearing the name of the club and ground.
On 25 March 1882 the club won through to the final of the F.A. Cup against the Old Etonians. Blackburn Rovers was the first provincial team to reach the final, but the result was a 1–0 defeat by the Old Etonians. There was no repeat of the previous season's success during the 1882–83 season, when Rovers suffered a bitter defeat 1–0 at the hands of Darwen in the second-round. Local rivals Blackburn Olympic went on to be the first provincial team to actually win the F.A. Cup. Rovers finally won the F.A. Cup on 29 March 1884 at the Kennington Oval, with a 2–1 victory over the Scottish team Queen's Park F.C. Had it not been for this cup success the club would have folded leaving Blackburn Olympic the primary team in Blackburn. The same teams played the F.A. Cup final again the next season, with Blackburn Rovers again emerging victorious, with a 2–0 score. Rovers repeated this success yet again the next season, winning the final against West Bromwich Albion. For this three-in-a-row of F.A. Cup victories, the club was awarded a specially commissioned silver shield and given the unique privilege of displaying the club crest on its corner flags.
The 1885–86 season was the birth of the legal professional footballer, and Blackburn Rovers spent £615 on player wages for the season. Despite the new professionalism, it was a disappointing season for the club — an unusually high number of defeats would culminate in Rovers losing its three-year grip on the F.A. Cup when it lost 2–0 in the second round to the Scottish club Renton on 4 December 1886 at the Leamington Street ground. Further defeats followed in the other major cups that season.
Blackburn Rovers again reached the F.A. Cup final on 29 March 1890 at the Kennington Oval. The club claimed the trophy, for the fourth time, by beating Sheffield Wednesday a hefty 6-1 — with left forward William Townley scoring three goals and becoming the first player to achieve a hat-trick in the F.A. Cup final. The summer of 1890 brought yet another significant event in the history of Blackburn Rovers with the decision to move again. The choice of new home was Ewood Park, and it remained the club's home for the next century or more.
Ewood Park was built in 1882, the idea of four local businessmen, and it had hosted a number of sporting events. In 1890 Blackburn Rovers purchased the ground and spent a further £1000 on refurbishments to bring it up to standard. The first match was played on 13 September 1890 against Accrington, with a 0-0 draw result.
The 1890-1891 season saw Blackburn Rovers win the F.A. Cup for fifth time against Notts County F.C. with a 3-1 victory — but this success marked beginning of a downturn in the fortunes of the club, and a long lean period would follow. During the 1896-1897 season the club stayed in the first division only as the result of a decision to increase the number of teams. The season did, however, mark the beginning of Bob Crompton's 50-year association with the club, both as a player and eventually as an F.A. Cup winning manager.
The final years of the 19th century brought little success for Blackburn Rovers and several narrow escapes from relegation.
Blackburn Rovers maintained a respectable mid-table position in the First Division until they were finally relegated (along with Aston Villa) from the top flight (for the first time since the foundation of the league) in the 1935-36 season. Their final match prior to relegation was a triumph. By the last game of the season, they were already certain to be relegated, but at Villa Park, they beat the home side, thus dragging the only other team of the original Football League who had never been relegated, Aston Villa, with them. They struggled in the second division for the next two seasons, until winning the Second Division title in the final season before the war.
When the league resumed after the war, Blackburn Rovers were relegated in their second season (1947-48) and remained in the second division for the following ten years. After promotion in 1958, they again returned to the mid-table position they had occupied in the earlier part of the century. During this time, they seldom made a serious challenge for a major trophy - although they did reach the 1960 FA Cup final when managed by Scot Dally Duncan. Rovers lost this game 3-0 to Wolverhampton Wanderers after playing most of the game with only 10 men on the field. Full back Dave Whelan was lost during the game to a broken leg, the game being played in the days before substitutes were allowed. Despite losing, cup final man of the match was future Scotland manager Ally MacLeod (left winger MacLeod scored 47 goals in 193 appearances for Rovers). During the 1960s Blackburn Rovers had several players who made it into national teams. They were again relegated from the First Division in 1966 and began a 26-year exile from the top division.
Rovers made headlines in the summer of 1992 by paying an English record fee of £3.5million for the 22-year-old Southampton and England centre forward Alan Shearer. Other expensive signings during the 1992-93 season included Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux, Middlesbrough winger Stuart Ripley and Coventry striker Kevin Gallacher. An impressive Blackburn side remained in the title challenge for most of the season before finishing fourth in the final table, that season not quite enough for UEFA Cup place. Leeds midfielder David Batty and Southampton goalkeeper Tim Flowers were two key signings who helped Blackburn progress in 1993-94 and finish Premiership runners-up to arch rivals Manchester United. Rovers broke the English transfer fee record again a few weeks later when paying Norwich City £5million for 21-year-old striker Chris Sutton. Sutton's prolific striking partnership with Alan Shearer would be dubbed the "SAS", an acronym for "Sutton and Shearer" and the elite British special forces unit the SAS. Blackburn Rovers scored the 1000th goal in Premier League history. Mike Newell was on target in April 1993 in a 3-1 win at Nottingham Forest.
Blackburn Rovers made a poor start to the 1995-96 season, and found themselves in the bottom half for most of the first half of the season. Rovers also struggled in the Champions League and finished bottom of their group with just four points. A 7-0 victory over Nottingham Forest on the day of the official opening of the redeveloped Ewood Park and a 4-1 win over Rosenborg (including a nine minute Mike Newell hat-trick, which is still the fastest hat-trick in Champions League history) were two highlights of an otherwise disappointing seasons. Alan Shearer was instrumental again, becoming the first striker to score more than 30 Premiership goals in three successive seasons. Blackburn Rovers improved as the season went on, finishing seventh in the Premiership and narrowly missing out on a UEFA Cup place.
Alan Shearer was top goalscorer at Euro 96 and was linked to domestic and international clubs. The main talk in the national media was of Shearer joining hated rivals Manchester United. However Shearer was sold to hometown club Newcastle United for a then world record fee of £15million in the summer of 1996, and Rovers were unable to find a suitable replacement.
A terrible start to the 1996-97 Premiership campaign saw Harford resign in late October with the club bottom of the division, having failed to win any of their first ten games. Relegation looked a real possibility, just two seasons after winning the league. The club immediately began the process of recruiting his replacement.
On 16 December 1996 with Rovers hovering above the relegation zone, it was announced at an Ewood Park press conference that Sven-Göran Eriksson had signed an "unconditional contract" with Rovers to take over as manager at the end of the season on 1 July 1997 when his contract with Italian Serie A club U.C. Sampdoria expired. The Swede had already visited Ewood Park and the club training facilities at Brockhall as well as sending representatives to watch Rovers' Premiership clashes on his behalf.
It was hoped that the signing of Eriksson would usher in a new era of success after the continuing difficulties following Ray Harford's disappointing tenure as manager. "Not only do I want us to be a top club in this country, I want European football to be the norm for us", said club owner Jack Walker. "If we get support as high as we want it and the public back us in every way they can then we could even consider [redeveloping] the Walkersteel Stand". Eriksson's move to Lancashire would not come to fruition, however.
However, Rovers made a poor start to the campaign and Hodgson was sacked in December less than an hour after a 2-0 home defeat to bottom side Southampton, a result that locked Rovers in the relegation zone. The £7.5m signing of young Southampton striker Kevin Davies was a disaster, with Davies only netting once, against Charlton in a rare win, in 24 games. To make matters worse, team captain and midfield enforcer Tim Sherwood was sold to Tottenham Hotspur, leaving the side without a leader. Brian Kidd, the hugely successful Manchester United assistant manager, was named as Hodgson's successor. However, he could not save them as the club slipped away, relegation was confirmed with a scoreless draw at home to Manchester United in the penultimate game of the season. So, just 4 years after lifting the Premiership title, Blackburn Rovers were now back in the second tier of English Football.
Jack Walker died just after the start of the 2000–01, and the club dedicated its promotion challenge in memory of their benefactor. Fittingly, they returned to the Premiership after a much improved season, albeit that they finished second to Fulham. Blackburn Rovers relied on the form of their young stars Matt Jansen, Damien Duff and David Dunn and on the performances of goalkeeper Brad Friedel, whom Souness had previously coached at Galatasaray and whom he signed on a free transfer when he arrived at Rovers.
In 2001–02, Blackburn record signing Andy Cole was bought in for £8million, as was Turkish playmaker Tugay Kerimoglu, Italian hotshot Corrado Grabbi and full back Lucas Neill were signed to strengthen an already solid squad. With David Dunn and Damien Duff both shining, the season was a memorable one. More significantly, Blackburn Rovers won their first-ever League Cup by beating Tottenham Hotspur 2–1 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff - where Cole proved his worth by scoring the winning goal in the 69th minute after Matt Jansen had put Rovers in front. Their cup success meant a place in the UEFA Cup for 2002-03
The following season, Souness signed Dwight Yorke from Manchester United, as Matt Jansen was involved in a motor cycle accident during pre-season that left him with serious head injuries. Blackburn Rovers progress continued as they finished sixth on the last day, with an impressive 4–0 win away at Tottenham, to qualify for the UEFA Cup for the second season running. Again it was Duff and Dunn who shone brightest, while goalkeeper Brad Friedel was one of the league's best players, However, the club had to be content with a disappointing exit from the UEFA Cup to eventual finalists Celtic, despite this, the club went into the 2003-04 with great expectations.
At the start of 2003–04 the sale of fan favourites Damien Duff and David Dunn meant that Rovers were always going to struggle to emulate the previous season's form. With transfer funds would be available, Souness replaced Duff with the highly rated Australian winger Brett Emerton from Feyenoord and Stephen Reid, while Lorenzo Amoruso, the Rangers defender, was also signed. Henning Berg was among the other departures. The season started promisingly, as newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers were defeated 5-1 at Ewood. The signing of Rangers captain Barry Ferguson for £7.5 million prompted talk of a surprise title challenge. However, results dipped, and the club began a long sequence of home defeats that left them in towards relegation danger. Souness's job was put on the line, and the club eventually were left needing a late turnaround, inspired by little known striker Jon Stead, to avoid relegation back to the English first division. 15th place was secured by a run of 4 wins from the final 6 games, sparked by a 4-3 victory at Fulham.
After qualifying for Europe, Rovers signed South African striker Benni McCarthy from Porto as a replacement for the departed Craig Bellamy. Blackburn Rovers finished top of their group and were drawn against Bayer Leverkusen; they suffered a narrow 3–2 defeat in the first leg of their tie against Bayer Leverkusen, but a 0–0 draw in the second leg saw them bow out of the competition. The club was busy during the January transfer window, signing David Dunn, Stephen Warnock, Christopher Samba and Bruno Berner. Rovers reached the Semi Final of the FA Cup in 2007, they defeated Everton, Luton, Arsenal (after replay) and Manchester City. However they would go on to be defeated by Chelsea in the semi-final, with the game going into extra time. Rovers finished the season 10th in the league, with McCarthy netting 18 league goals. The club also qualified for the Intertoto Cup, which they successfully came through.
To prepare for the 2007–08 season Rovers invested in three new players, signing Paraguay international Roque Santa Cruz from Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, Dutch under-21 star Maceo Rigters and young goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen. Blackburn would be knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Greek team Larissa, and also suffer a defeat to Coventry, in the FA Cup. Rovers confirmed an application to the following season's Intertoto competition. However, Blackburn lost 4-1 to Birmingham City on the final day of the season to deny them the Intertoto spot, which went to Aston Villa. Rovers ended in a respectable 7th. position in the Premiership, their third consecutive top half finish.
Before the start of the 2008–09 season, regular goalkeeper Brad Friedel (Aston Villa) and England international winger David Bentley (Tottenham Hotspur) left the club for a combined fee of around £19.5 million. Goalkeeper Paul Robinson then became Ince's first signing on the 25 July for a fee of £3.5 million.
In January 2008, the Dan Williams-led consortium interested in taking the club over withdrew interest. The club are prepared to sell and other groups are still interested.
On Sunday 20 April 2008, Blackburn Rovers were yet again linked with another consortium led bid. This time from new JJB Sports owner Chris Ronnie, and a Icelandic based consortium. Whether this will lead to a formal bid being presented to the Walker Trustees, is still yet to be seen.
On Sunday 8 June 2008, Blackburn Rovers were again linked to Chris Ronnie's consortium in the National Press. In which the Sunday People reported "Chris Ronnie is closing in on his takeover of Blackburn Rovers", the aritcle also went on to say "Ronnie has had four (4) meetings with Rothschilds, the financiers selling the club for the Jack Walker Trustees, and there has been 'significant progress."
However, on 6 July, it was revealed that Ronnie had pulled out of a bid to buy the club, and that Chowdery had a bid of £30 million pounds rejected.
The Rovers kit have always been fundamentally the same; two team colours split across the shirt. One sleeve and one side of the shirt would be each colour. The shorts started white and the socks dark blue. Although the sock pattern and colours would change, everything else, for the most part, hasn't been touched since 1905. Since changing to white shorts in recent years, the home kits have had dark blue shorts since 1904, when they were changed for a year, then rejected and changed back. Blackburn Rovers colours for 2007-08 as voted for by fans. For 2007-08 the traditional blue and white remains, however the away kit is a brand new idea using the existing away colours (black & red) for the first time in a halved formation.
During the 07-08 season the club were sponsored by Bet24 and their technical sponsors were Umbro. 12 March 2008 The club announced that Crown Paints would be their new club sponsor as of 2008–09, the Lancashire based company signed a three year deal with the club. For the 08/09 season, the club decided to relegate the Black and Red halved kit to being their 3rd kit, and decided to go with an all Black (shirt and shorts) kit as their away kit, with a small blue and white halved patch directly underneath the chin at the top of the shirt.
Previous shirt sponsors:
Republic of Ireland
|1884,1885,1886,1890,1891,1928||FA Cup winners|
|1882,1960||FA Cup runners-up|
|1959||FA Youth Cup winners|
|1998, 2000||FA Youth Cup runners-up|
|2002||League Cup winners|
|1987||Full Members Cup winners|
|1912||Charity Shield winners|
|Lancashire Senior Cup winners|
|1993-94||Premier League runners-up|
|1911-12, 1913-14||League division 1 (now Premier League) champions|
|2000-01||League division 1 (now the Championship) runners-up|
|1938-39||League division 2 (now the Championship) champions|
|1957-58||League division 2 runners-up|
|1974-75||League division 3 (now League One) champions|
|1979-80||League division 3 runners-up|
|Paul Ince||June 2008||Present||8||5||2||1||62.50|
|Mark Hughes||September 2004||June 2008||188||82||59||47||43.61|
|Graeme Souness||March 2000||September 2004||212||86||65||61||40.56|
|Brian Kidd||December 1998||November 1999||44||12||14||18||27.27|
|Roy Hodgson||June 1997||November 1998||62||22||22||18||35.48|
|Ray Harford||June 1995||October 1996||64||24||27||13||37.5|
|Kenny Dalglish||October 1991||June 1995||195||102||47||46||52.30|
There are also several official/non-official Rovers messageboards which are frequented by supporters from allover the world!
- http://boards.rovers.co.uk/ (official Rovers messageboard) - www.BRFCS.co.uk (unnofficial messageboard) - www.roverstalk.com
In January 2006 Blackburn Rovers Supporters Football Club (BRSFC) was formed by a group of Blackburn Rovers supporters through the clubs official message board. This team is not one of a group of breakaway teams such as FC United of Manchester (Manchester United) which was created by disgruntled fans in the wake of Malcolm Glazer's takeover at Old Trafford. BRSFC enjoys an affiliation with Blackburn Rovers Football Club and are registered with the Lancashire Football Association .
BRSFC were created for the sole purpose of playing and enjoying football with and against other supportes teams
BRSFC are currently in an Internet based supporters league called The Northern Football Supporters League (NFSL) which features similar supporter run teams. Blackburn Rovers season ticket holders Warren Wolstencroft, Andrew Berry and Michael Nuttall currently run the team.
Players of BRSFC pay a membership fee for each game that they play this covers the costs of pitches for training and matches. Fees are dependant of the length of time each player participates in the match
|1994–95||42||27||8||7||80||39||+41||89||1||UEFA Champions league|
|2001–02||38||12||10||16||55||51||+4||46||10||UEFA Cup [via League Cup win]|
|2006–07||38||15||7||16||52||54||-2||52||10||UEFA Intertoto Cup|
Derek Fazackerley, 593+3sub, 1970/71 to 1986/87
Simon Garner, 194 goals (168 league), 1978/79 to 1991/92
62,255 v Bolton Wanderers, FA Cup 6th round, 2 March 1929.
£8m to Manchester United for Andrew Cole in December 2001
£17m from Chelsea for Damien Duff in July 2003.
11-0 v Rossendale United, Ewood Park, FA Cup 1st round 13 October 1884
9-0 v Middlesbrough, Ewood Park, Division 2, 6 November 1954
8-2 v West Ham United, Division 1, 26 December 1963
0-8 v Arsenal, Division 1, 25 February 1933 0-8 v Lincoln City, Division 2, 29 August 1953
1-7 v Notts County, 14 March 1891 1-7 v Middlesbrough, 29 November 1947
13: 5-8 v Derby County, 6 September 1890
Walter Crook, 208 (1934-46)
Ted Harper, 43, Division 1, 1925/26
Tommy Briggs, 7 v Bristol Rovers, Ewood Park, Division 2, 5 February 1955
13, Jack Southworth, 1887-1893
Ronnie Clayton, 56, 1949-1969
Derek Fazackerley, 38, 1969-87
Harry Dennison, aged 16yrs and 155 days against Bristol City, Division 1, 8 April 1911
Bob Crompton, 40yrs and 150 days against Bradford, Division 1, 23 February 1920
24 games including 3 consecutive FA Cup wins, 1884-86. Still an FA Cup record
The Peter White Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player winning the goal of the season competition, which started in season 2000/01. Winners are as follows:
|2000-01||Damien Duff||Birmingham City||St. Andrews||1st Division||February 2001|
|2001-02||Damien Duff||Ipswich Town||Ewood Park||Premiership||13 March 2002|
|2002-03||Andy Cole||Liverpool||Anfield||Premiership||26 December 2002|
|2003-04||Tugay||Birmingham City||St. Andrews||Premiership||6 December 2003|
|2004-05||Morten Gamst Pedersen||Burnley||Ewood Park||FA Cup 5th Round||1 March 2005|
|2005-06||Steven Reid||Wigan Athletic||JJB Stadium||Premiership||31 December 2005|
|2006-07||Benni McCarthy||Arsenal||Ewood Park||FA Cup 5th Round||28 February 2007|
|2007-08||Tugay||Reading||Ewood Park||Premiership||20 October 2007|