22 September 2008

Football History: Blackburn Rovers (Premier League)

Blackburn Rovers were one of the founder members of the Football League, formed in 1875 by former public school old boys to challenge the southern football teams. 1878 saw them play in the first ever floodlit match and by 1886 they had won the FA Cup on three successive occasions, a feat which hasn't been matched since.

Until the advent of the Premiership, all of Blackburn's success had taken place before 1930 with two League Championships and six FA Cup wins. In the early ninties, the slumbering giant was woken by local-boy-made-millionaire Jack Walker's arrival.

The money he made available along with the appointment of former Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish as manager gave Blackburn the impetus to be promoted from the first division to become founder members of the FA Premier League. They finished in the top six in their first season before seriously challenging in Manchester United for the title in 1994, eventually finishing runners-up.

1994-1995 finally saw Walker's dream realised as the goals of Alan Shearer and a remarkable last day saw Blackburn crowned champions for the first time in over 80 years. Rovers' suffered a backlash after their amazing triumph and four disappointing seasons later they were relegated back into the first division.

Rovers suffered a great loss in 2000 when their benefactor Jack Walker lost his battle with cancer, Rovers could not have paid him a greater tribute than regaining Premiership status under the new leadership of manager Graeme Souness, and they have continued to consolidate ever since. The glory days of the mid-90s seemingly behind them, Souness jumped ship to Newcastle at the beginning of the 2004-05 season - to be replaced by Mark Hughes, who helped establish the club back in the upper half of the table.

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