Category: Blackburn Rovers

Venky’s Knocked Down By A Feather

Venky’s have not been seen at Blackburn Rovers games for ages.  Rumours in India say the family is suffering from some kind of bizarre disease, possibly a side-effect following DNA research into poultry production.

The Incredible Feathered Venky

As one of the world’s leading avian research institutions, based in India, Venky’s have always boasted of having technology to even create new species of life.  One unusual challenge they recently received was to bring the extinct Dodo back to life.  They say it could be possible using 3D bio-printing.

Venky’s claim this kind of technology was right up their street.  They believe they could also solve the age old riddle of which came first: the chicken or the egg?  They say they could manage to create an egg before a Dodo in this case.  After all, they are a hatchery and their matriarch – Mrs Desai – is known as ‘Madam’, which means Mother Hen in some Indian dialects.  Her brother Balaji is even more fearsome and is known to rule their company with a rod of iron.  No doubt they can see opportunities for feathering their nests, should these experiments succeed.

Unfortunately for the Venky’s, theory and practice do not always go like a bird in the hand and their chickens may have come home to roost on this occasion.  The Rao family have spent all their life amongst chickens and this may have made them more susceptible than most people to airborne avian infections.  Reports of the Venky’s having facial disfigurements resembling a coating of feathers have been mentioned by sources in India.

There is also a theory Venky’s’ buying Blackburn Rovers may have triggered some kind of ironic scourge upon the Rao family.  In 1965 Blackburn was hit by a polio epidemic.  This led to other football clubs refusing to play Rovers and they started their season later than everybody else.  Their backlog of matches didn’t help and led to them being relegated at the end of the 1965-66 Season.  Perhaps some kind of throwback to those troubled times has come back to haunt Venky’s.  It may become known as the Rovers’ Revenge.

While Venky’s own us, there is more chance of them bringing the Dodo back to life than Blackburn Rovers.  At least we can look forward to a day when Venky’s ownership of our club, like the life of the Dodo, will also become extinct and consigned to the history books.  Nobody will ever want to see their disastrous stewardship of Blackburn Rovers occur again.  They have taken us to the brink of extinction.  But 3D bio-printing won’t be necessary and like the fabled phoenix, Rovers will one day rise again.

Venky’s Say Stuff Rovers

Venky’s say they are sick of Blackburn Rovers fans making their lives a misery, so have come up with a scheme which almost makes death pleasurable. 

Roving Mick

Taken by Sylvia Larkin, courtesy of Blackburn Museum


They have decided to take their animal products empire forward to its logical conclusion.  From their origins as an egg hatchery, they now want to get involved in the other end of this process and set up their ultimate disposal solution of man’s best friend – pet funerals.

This idea came to the Venky’s following a recent visit they made to Blackburn Museum.  What caught the family’s imagination was a stuffed greyhound on display.  It was called ‘Bed of Stone’, a champion hare courser, who won the Waterloo Cup in 1872.  It was left to the people of Blackburn by a brother of William Briggs, who was a cotton magnate and one of Blackburn’s former MP’s.

Venky’s didn’t really understand the meaning of hare coursing, but liked the idea of creating a hare restorer – especially Balaji.  It made them want to pursue this issue further.  Someone also suggested stuffing animals – like they already do with chickens – would be a brilliant business opportunity for them.  Why bury or cremate your beloved Rover when you could keep a stuffed reminder of him in your house or garden for perpetuity?

It is also rumoured Venky’s had their first ever egg-laying hen stuffed in more ways than one.  It was freeze-dried and preserved out of gratitude for the start it gave them when they set up their own hatchery.

After their disastrous tenure at Blackburn Rovers, man’s best friend is the last thing anybody thinks of when it comes to our Indian owners.  ‘Johnny No Mates’ is probably a more appropriate label for Rovers’ absentee landlords.  Their description of our club as their ‘baby’ has also gone down badly with Rovers fans.  Many say Venky’s would be facing child abuse charges if Rovers was a real baby.  Some kind of FA Social Services is needed to take our club off them and put it up for adoption.

Venky’s have not ruled out building their own pet cemetary either.  After giving up on their plans to sell Rovers’ Brockhall training ground, other uses for it are now being explored.  Now they have almost killed off their pet football team, it looks like they might just as well leave us dead and buried in our own resting place.  Blackburn Rovers will then be well and truly stuffed.

Rovers Fans Set Up Venky’s Out Camp

Blackburn Rovers fans are trying all sorts of weird and wonderful ways of persuading Indian owners, the Venky’s to sell up and leave their beloved football club.  One of their strangest ventures has been the setting up of a protest camp on land high above Rovers’ Ewood Park football ground.camp1

This protest camp is a mixture of tents, including native American style teepees.  Chief of the protest camp and spokesman for the newly formed ‘Ewood First Nations’ is Blue Owl.  He told me he is really called Fred Grimshaw and lives on the nearby Higher Croft estate.  But for now he and his tribe have devoted themselves to the growing campaign to get rid of that other tribe of renegade Indians – the Venky’s from faraway Pune.

Blue Owl said:  “Our tribe belongs to Rovers, but they do not belong to us.  This cannot be said of current so-called owners, the Venky’s.  They may have temporary possession of our sacred club, but they do not belong and like the demons they are, their possession will one day be exorcised”.

Protest tactics to be used by the Ewood First Nations will include banging drums and doing a war dance during matches.  They will also be producing smoke signals using their barbecues.  Of course Venky’s chickens will be nowhere to be found when these barbecues are put into action.  This is one signal they don’t want to send out to the rest of the nations.

These gallant braves will also be taking part in the ritual of waiting for when the sun reaches its zenith in the sky at high noon.  When this happens they will try shining sunlight from handheld mirrors into the Ewood Park stadium.  This latter tactic is also meant to symbolically reflect back the evil medicine emanating from Venky’s, as well as sending sunlight  into their eyes and dazzling them, should they ever turn up for a Rovers match.  No doubt this act will probably remain just symbolic.

Blue Owl is expecting a long campaign before Rovers return to the happy hunting ground.  Driving the Venky’s invaders from our ancient ancestral lands will take a heap of big medicine.  But, as with the endless flow of the River Darwen below the camp, separating it from Ewood Park, their determination to take back what it theirs is like that of the salmon leaping and the hooves of the thundering herd – never ending.

Venky’s – Time To Go!

With the news that Paul Lambert is quitting Blackburn Rovers at the end of the season, where does this leave the club and its owners, the Venky’s?

Draining the lifeblood from Rovers

Draining the lifeblood from Rovers

Our Indian owners’ tenure at the club has created one disaster after another.  Their first action was to sack Sam Allardyce and replace him with the hated Steve Kean.  Further managerial appointments led to even more failures.  Now their latest one has created the unusual situation where a manager has sacked the football club.

Losses at Rovers have put the club in over £100M of debt.  Venky’s have absorbed these debts, but for how long will they keep bailing out the club?  Their shares in India have taken a pounding and the last thing they need is to keep pumping money into a loss-making football club halfway across the world.

Yet Venky’s have shown they have no interest in football.  So what is the point of them owning Blackburn Rovers?  Very few people in India care whether Rovers win the Premier League or go to the wall.  Sadly the way things are going at the club, the latter option is becoming more than just a possibility.

Nobody is really sure why Paul Lambert decided to quit Rovers, apart from the man himself and Venky’s.  Our owners’ indecision is thought to be one of the main reasons.  This may be coupled with what Lambert experienced during his tenure at Aston Villa and the probability of a similar outcome waiting round the corner at Blackburn Rovers.

There also remains the question as to what Venky’s hope to achieve from destroying Blackburn Rovers.  Fortunately for them, our club is just a small component of their business empire.  But the way we are haemorrhaging money to the tune of several millions a year, even Venky’s, with their billions, have to realise this situation can’t go on forever.  Rovers are not a bottomless pit and sooner or later the tap has got to be turned off.

Unfortunately for Rovers, we seem to be dealing with a bunch of spoilt rich kids who haven’t invested their inherited wealth very wisely in our football club.  This is confounded by a culture where being seen not to lose face means everything – regardless of what stupid decisions have been made in the past.  Sadly for the Venky’s, they don’t appear to have heard of the old British saying:  ‘When you’re in a hole – stop digging’.

Skimmy Southworth – Rovers’ Musical Goal Machine

Who was Blackburn Rovers’ greatest goalscorer? Was it Shearer, Sutton, Tommy Briggs, Simon Garner, or present day poacher, Jordan Rhodes?

Skimmy knew how to blow his own trumpet

Skimmy knew how to blow his own trumpet

Believe it or not, one former player, actually born and bred in Blackburn, is up there with the best of them when it comes to his record of scoring goals for Rovers. His strike rate is even higher than Alan Shearer’s!

Jack Southworth was born on Ainsworth Street in 1866 and baptised in what became Blackburn Cathedral. He came from a musical family and would go on to become a professional musician when his football career was ended by injury.

His brother Jim, also a musician, played alongside his sibling for Rovers. Both of them started playing with Rovers’ town rivals, Blackburn Olympic. But after earlier rejections, they were eventually lured across Corporation Park from Shear Brow to Leamington Road.

Jack quickly became a favourite with the Rovers fans, who nicknamed him ‘Skimmy’, due to his speed. He became a deadly striker, dubbed the ‘Prince of Dribblers’ and was popping them in at an important time in our history.

We become founder members of the Football League in 1888. Next came our move to Ewood Park. There was also a small matter of Rovers winning two FA Cups in 1890 & 1891. The first of these while still playing at Leamington Road and our next after the move to our current home. Jack scored in both victories. He also played three times for England, inevitably scoring in all three games.

Although we are taking about those early days of organised football, Southworth’s goals record is still incredible. He played 132 Football League and FA Cup matches for Rovers, scoring 121 goals. He scored Rovers’ first ever goal in the Football League and he still holds Blackburn Rovers’ record for the most individual hat-tricks in a season, with five in 1890–91, and the record for the aggregate individual hat-tricks with thirteen.

Sadly, Skimmy and the Rovers fell out over football’s perennial curse – money. Although Southworth had a good point in his argument about wishing to move to Everton to further his musical career. The Toffees had just moved into their new Goodison Park ground and were splashing the cash. They paid Rovers £400 and took away our first prolific goal scorer – no doubt some former fans of the then recently defunct ‘Lympic would have had a laugh at their fellow townsfolk’s loss.

The real reason for his transfer was Rovers’ developing financial problems due to the Ewood Park move and joining the Football League. But Jack was still pilloried by the local press and Rovers fans for jumping ship. At least he was given his say in a letter which they published. He explained his reasons candidly, for both financially and musically, wanting away. The latter was obviously his first love. Even at the height of his powers at Rovers, the 1891 census has him living in Inkerman Street and his occupation listed as a musician.

At Everton he was a sensation in his first season, scoring 27 goals in 22 games. It looked more of the same in his second season, with nine goals in as many games. But then he was struck by a leg injury which ended his football career. Fortunately, he had other strings to his bow in more ways than one and became a professional violinist with the Halle Orchestra. He went on to play different instruments in various famous orchestras across the north for several years.

Jack Southworth died in in Liverpool in 1956. He was nearly 90. He may not have been Rovers’ greatest striker, but he was certainly our most artistic.

You’re a Bast**d Referee!

Blackburn Rovers hold a few football records, but here is one of their funniest.

Rovers may hold the unique distinction of hosting England international matches on three different home grounds in the 19th century. These were at East Lancs Cricket Club’s Alexandra Meadows, Leamington Road, round the corner and of course our beloved current home ground of Ewood Park.

But the international match which causes most merriment was the first one at the Meadows. On the 21st of February 1881 a crowd of 4,200 gathered at Alexandra Meadows, temporary home of Blackburn Rovers, to watch England play Wales in a friendly international. Both Hargreaves brothers and James Brown from Rovers were in the England team.

The ground was covered in snow and slush, a factor which was the main reason blamed for the Welsh gaining an unexpected 1-0 victory. No doubt many disappointed England supporters would have vented their ire at the match officials, keeping up a tradition we see all the time these days.

But the match referee would have been used to the usual insult shouted in his direction. His was the wonderfully named Segar Richard Bastard, who hailed from Bow in London.

It probably wasn’t a good idea to question Segar’s parentage, he was a practising solicitor when not playing football and other sports. He also played the beautiful game at international level himself – just once for England – before refereeing. He was also in appropriate surroundings at the East Lancs ground, having played for Essex at county cricket level. Segar also liked a flutter and would be in good company with today’s footballers as he was one of the first to have owned a racehorse.

At least we can dispel the popular myth of Segar being the inspiration behind some of the chants directed towards referees. These didn’t start until well after his death in 1921. But we can say the referee of the first ever England international home match, held outside London, really was a Bastard.

Itching After Rovers

  • December 25, 2014

Turquoise Shirts And Zebras

Don't Cross Me!

Don’t Cross Me!

Rovers played out a 1-1 draw with Stoke City in our only home pre-season friendly. It was a rare visit to the Blackburn End instead of my usual Riverside seat this time. But what made things more unfamiliar was Rovers playing in their new turquoise away shirts.

Being a hot sunny afternoon, I had to blink a few times to get accustomed to this strange shade of greeny-blue. My mates and I all agreed the colour was turquoise. Reading the black letters on the shirt proved even more difficult to my waning eyesight. We all agreed red is far more effective on top of blue and white. At least there was no mistaking the new kit sponsor’s zebra.

Unfortunately zebras only come in shades of black and white. Apart from the ones who didn’t manage to escape from hungry lions. But having a red and white zebra on the shirt might not have gone down well with squeamish Rovers fans. Blue and white zebras are a strange concept and could become quite distinctive. But they might be seen as frivolous and probably not something our new kit sponsors may wish to be associated with.

But it looks like zebras might be replacing chickens as the creatures we’ve been associated with over the last few years. Our first three opponents in this new Championship season, like us, are also linked to birds and animals. Cardiff City, who we open the season with, has always been known as the Bluebirds. But their Malaysian owner not only changed their kit from blue to red, he now wants to rename the club Cardiff Dragons.

Cardiff fans have taken a lot of stick over the years due to their ‘Soul Crew’ hooligan minority. But their refusal to succumb to Vincent Tan’s attempts to destroy their club’s culture has received admiration from many fans across the football community. At the other stadium in their city, Welsh fans of the oval ball are often seen waving aloft blow-up sheep. This time they can play with blow-up zebras

A week later we trot across to the Lancashire coast for a local derby at Blackpool. We play the donkey lashers, who are going through their own tales of woe at the watering hole. Ironically, their most famous visitor came from Blackburn. He was called Albert and was swallowed by a lion. Let’s just hope it’s a good away day for us Blackburners this time and three points for Rovers. Our four legged friends keep their pyjamas on and earn their stripes at the seaside.

Itching After Rovers

  • December 25, 2014

Rovers Season Tickets

Season Tickets

Roving Mick’s Season ticket collection

It’s that time of the year again.  Another season over and a new one not so far away.  This means me having to put my hand in my pocket for a new season ticket.

As my photo illustrates, this isn’t a new experience for me, more of an annual ritual really.  I bought my first ticket in 1977 and have never missed a single season since.

For Season 1977-78, my lovely grey hard-bound Ground book of tickets was printed by local Blackburn printers: Hulme & Whitehead and cost me £13 (inclusive of V.A.T.).  It was excellent value at the time, the adult gate price was 90p.  Whereas I got to watch 21 first team league matches and it was free to watch the reserves.  Season ticket holders also got first pick with their tickets when cup ties took place.

Inside its cover was a roll of club officials, including Chairman:  WH Bancroft; Vice-Chairman:  DT Keighley.

Directors:  AL Fryars; WI Hubert; D Brown; W Fox and Dr M Jeffries.  Secretary:  JW Howarth and Manager:  JM Smith.

The actual tickets inside the booklet were also grey and 42 league and 10 cup tie tickets were originally there.  Nobody knew which ticket it would be when the games came round.  This was to stop illegal use and ticket touting.

There would be a lot more season tickets on the photo, but technology took over some years ago.  Now my electronic ticket is automatically switched on when the money is debited from my bank account.  So I’ve been using the same piece of plastic for quite a few years now and another piece of plastic was used to pay for it too.

Maybe my season ticket reflects the current state of how football is these days.  Fans like me – who actually turn up at matches – are seen as mugs and just there to be milked like cows.  Yet matches are laid out to suit viewers on TV, many who have never even been to a professional football match and probably harbour no intentions of ever attending one.

Fortunately, there are a lot of supporters around like me who still enjoy watching their local team.  I look forward to buying my 38th Blackburn Rovers season ticket in a row.  Another pre-season ritual will also be followed – my hoping the price will be as competitive as the football team.

Cyber Rovers

Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football.  Are your sure?

Can you imagine a future world, where Rovers fans only watch football on TV.  Where the growth of satellite TV and ‘streaming’ is making football more available for supporters to watch.  So the pub, computer and home telly becomes the only place fans ever see a match.

This Orwellian world is already with us (but don’t tell anyone).  So let us imagine our game’s hierarchy decide they want more of the money being paid to footballers and their agents going to them.  What’s to stop them creating their own cyber team?  Then using their football thought control to persuade us it’s a good thing.  Now they have the medium already.  Virtual teams wouldn’t need grounds, or fans inside them.  This would be great for health & safety.  No need to supply food or drink, or pay police or stewards.

Football games would become like ‘The Truman Show’.  Advertising could be taken to a new and sinister level.  Subliminal messages could be sent during play, as well as at half time.  Press your red button and you could even adjust your team’s performance or skill level.  A win, draw or even a loss could be your desired result.

And so our cyber game kicks off down the pub (behind closed doors is official FIFA newspeak – but there’s still plenty of canned noise).  After a delay to get in a few more adverts and a message from our sponsor.  It’s Rovers, with Shearer and Garner up front, playing a European game against Bayer Red Bull Philips.  These European fans seem to speak such good English:  “I’m lovin’ it” they sing.  Nobody understands this really as Rovers are already one up, with a goal by Shearer, from a Bryan Douglas cross.

While our players congratulate each other, all sorts of adverts are shown before the game kicks off again.  Several goals are scored for both sides.  But there are complaints from people watching this game about strange chants and singing changing from English into Mandarin Chinese.  A commentator apologises, saying it’s satellite interference from Shanghai Sports.  They are angry, saying Rovers broke a sponsorship agreement by not playing a Chinese player.

At the end of ninety minutes most viewers have some strange desire to eat turkey pizza and drink blueberry cola.  It came to them during a simultaneous camera flash.  But today’s match was played to a finish.  Our match ends with Rovers winning by just one goal – 7-6 – after extra time.  Today’s sponsor – Blueberry Pizzashop – was very pleased indeed.

This is fantasy football of a new kind.  Brainwashing with soap opera thrown in too.  But how would most football fans know anyway?  Do you control football?  Or does football control you?  Kick off time is when the clock strikes thirteen – anywhere in the world.  This could be football’s future.  So get down to Ewood Park instead, where the real thing isn’t just a fizzy drink.


Get them told!

Get them told!

Earlier this month, Rovers ground out a 1-0 home win over Watford.  Being a night match, I went to catch the special Outer Circle bus home after the final whistle.  I’d arranged to meet one of my mates and Quarryman’s regular, Rob MacNeall, at the bus stop.  Rob was there and so was a queue of Rovers fans, but no bus!  It was the same at the bus stop round the corner, where a sister bus travels in the opposite direction back to the depot. Rob and I waited for this elusive bus, but to no avail.  We came to the same conclusion; it wasn’t coming, so nipped for a pint in Ewood Park Workingmen’s Club.  We let the football traffic disperse and caught a taxi to the Quarryman’s.  This cost us £4.50, plus we had a pint apiece in the club and pub, costing us more loot. Now Rob and I are not unfamiliar with experiencing bus problems.  We recently teamed up to win a skirmish with the local bus operators over using our bus passes on evening services.  Both of us catch various buses to get to and from our respective workplaces.  At one point our paid-for bus passes were not accepted by certain operators when they took over certain routes at night.  This was resolved to our satisfaction after a bit of effort from Rob and me. And so we resolved to contact Transdev and complain about why tonight’s service had ducked and were these special buses still going to be laid on after Rovers night matches?  Next morning I sent a whingeing email to Transdev and tweeted my complaint to them on their Twitter site.  Rob followed suit and we both received apologies and three travel vouchers apiece.  Hopefully this was a one-off and I expect to be catching the Outer Circle home after our next night match at Ewood Park.  Maybe Rovers can grind out another result.  We certainly managed one.