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

River Blakewater – Blackburn’s Hidden Artery

Our two old and new bus station building sites in the town centre have one thing in common.  They both have the River Blakewater flowing underneath them.  This has brought out a few talking points about Blackburn’s hidden river.  The main issue is should it be open or should it remain covered as it flows through the town centre? 

Strangely enough, the Blakewater is a mysterious watercourse to many people.  It seems to be out of sight to most of us throughout its journey from a trickle at Guide to its confluence with the River Darwen at Witton Park.  Also not many Blackburners even realise a river flows through the town centre, or indeed other areas of the town.

Interestingly enough, this river – the Black Burn – which our town is named after, actually has three names.  It starts off from its source, up Guide, as the Knuzden Brook.  It skims round Shadsworth, down to Intack, where for a short stretch it is known as Abbott Clough.  But Whitebirk is where its familiar River Blakewater name comes into use.

Here is Blackburn’s other, albeit less well known, aqueduct.  Our river flows underneath the Leeds Liverpool canal on its way through Greenbank, Cob Wall, Bastwell and Brookhouse, before going underground on Brookhouse Lane itself.  From here to where it emerges on Bridge Street could be classed as one of Britain’s widest bridges.

I can remember the river flowing open to Blakewater Street, near the lowest point of what is now Barbara Castle Way.  My great aunt lived on nearby Anvil Street.  Sadly the river at the time was polluted and was used as a dumping ground by all and sundry.  Unfortunately this should prove to be a warning to those harbouring the romantic idea of opening up the river as it flows through the town centre.  Even after all the culverting and drainage work on the river, it still floods in some places.  Darwen Street traders will endorse this.

But the one place it doesn’t flood is where it has been covered over in the town centre.  Perhaps some plan could be thought up to enhance the use of the river as a tourist attraction.  A branch of the canal, incorporating the river, from Whitebirk to Witton is not as far-fetched as some of the original canal ideas.

But after exploring Liverpool’s fascinating Williamson Tunnels, maybe something could be done to try and link up the underground river and its tributaries with our town’s Victorian sewers.  Maybe then the council could organise boat trips down Blackburn’s own Tunnel of Love.

Roving Mick Joins Foster Campaign

Dave and Edith

Dave and Edith

Following my photographic debut as an ageing male model in the Adoption campaign, I’m now adorning the pages of Blackburn with Darwen’s Fostering recruitment drive literature.

I’ve been given a different name in this campaign – I’m called Dave and my fellow model is a different lady (called Edith – not her real name), than the one who was with me in the Adoption posters. This has brought a great deal of micky-taking and hilarity in my direction. I’ve been accused of adopting women, while encouraging people to adopt and foster children.

But it’s all good fun for a really important cause. More foster carers are urgently needed in our area to provide a temporary or permanent home to children who can’t live with their families, for various reasons.

Fostering is a professional role with extensive training and ongoing support. Blackburn with Darwen Council provides a generous weekly allowance plus expenses. You will be helping local children and can be sure of regular placements, especially if you’re considering fostering as an alternative to traditional employment.

Foster carers can be from any race, culture, religion or linguistic background and can be gay, straight, single, married, widowed, divorced, disabled, employed or unemployed.

There are many different types of fostering, from providing short breaks for children with disabilities to longer term placements for children from small babies to teens.

Want more information? Check out details below:

THE FOSTERING TEAM

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

Fostering Service

Floor 2, Duke Street

Blackburn, BB2 1DH

Call Freephone: 0800 328 6919 for an informal chat or

Email: familyplacement@blackburn.gov.uk

Visit the website:

http://www.letsfoster.co.uk/

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.

Bye Bye Blackburn Bouly

End of the road for Blackburn Boulevard

End of the road for Blackburn Boulevard

Work has now started on Blackburn’s new Cathedral Quarter.  It brings to an end over a century of use by Blackburn Boulevard as the town’s main bus station.  All that is left of our old bus station is a building site, surrounded by wooden boards.  But we have been told a phoenix will soon be rising from its ashes.

Station Square, as it was originally called, was actually triangular.  But this just about sums up Blackburn town centre – it’s never been known for getting its geometry right.  At least it was right in the centre though.  Even better, it was adjacent to our railway station, making Blackburn one of few large towns and cities with its own transport interchange.  Unfortunately, things were spoiled by it having a trunk road running through.  This often brought traffic to a standstill at peak times.

Our old Bouly was never a place for the faint-hearted.  I can remember it being populated by skinheads in the late 60’s.  Punk Rockers in the 1970’s and beggars and winos up to its final closure.  It also saw many a fracas between Rovers fans and visiting supporters from other football clubs.

Rowdy and violent behaviour will hopefully be a distant memory for this new cloistered enclave.  Ceremonial wine will be far more appropriate in the Cathedral Quarter than White Lightning and Frosty Jack cider.  Although the Adelphi will be keeping its eye on building work and hoping to benefit from any spin-offs from a new clerical community.

No doubt the finished product will be captured on film.  In 1905, pioneering Blackburn film makers:  Mitchell & Kenyon caught the unveiling of Queen Victoria’s statue.  This was probably much to the bemusement of WE Gladstone nearby.  His statue had already been there 6 years before her arrival.  They famously detested each other and the ‘Grand Old Man’ was subsequently shunted off to Blackburn College, before ending up in his present Blakey Moor home.  He has been climbed on many occasions over the years, having bottles and cans of beer placed in his outstretched hand and Rovers scarves draped around his neck.

Queen Vic seems to have got off lightly, only being left to the mercy of passing graffiti artists.  No doubt she would have banned the felt-tip pen and aerosol spray if they had been around in her day.  Let’s hope the new Cathedral Quarter will meet the Royal Approval and Blackburn’s people don’t end up saying:  “We are not amused!”

Virgin On The Ridiculous

More unwanted junk mail

More unwanted junk mail

Every day I when come home from work, there is usually some junk mail waiting for me in my porch.

Virgin Media are installing fibre optic cabling for their broadband service in my area.  As expected, they want to let everybody know about it.  This has led to a never-ending supply of their junk mail landing on my door mat.

At first I would chuck their letters in with my pile of other papers, leaflets and junk mail and bin them.  But after a while I saw it as a form of bullying, as well as an annoying invasion of my privacy.

I contacted Virgin’s Social Media team (socialteam@virginmedia.co.uk) and they said they would stop all marketing going to my address.  But it still continues to this very day.

After a good dig on the internet, various ways can be found of stopping some junk mail being delivered to your address.  First amongst these is the ‘Mailing Preference Service’.  They will stop most items directly addressed to you.  But those annoying ‘To the Occupier’ letters give it the slip.  This because the latter is a loophole, as it is classed as unaddressed mail.

The opposite effect comes with Royal Mail’s ‘Door-to-Door Opt Out’ scheme.  This stops items without a postal address.  But it has a legal duty to deliver all mail with a ‘delivery point’, meaning to the address, rather than the addressee – which it sees as irrelevant.  Therefore it considers ‘To the Occupier’ as addressed mail.  So you can’t win!

The big problem seems to be direct marketers are self-regulating.  They take the attitude that their industry keeps a lot of paper, printing and distribution workers in employment.  They claim their industry contributes around £20M to the UK economy.  Royal Mail gets half of its business from this source too.  So they aren’t going to be very helpful in killing the goose which lays the golden egg.

On the other side of the coin, how much does it cost to dispose of the average household’s 455 items of junk mail a year? And how does it affect recycling targets this country is obliged to meet?  It seems very irresponsible to waste so much paper on something most people clearly don’t want.  It also begs the question, what kind of service can you expect from a company which refuses to comply with the simple request to stop delivering their junk mail to your home?

What Virgin doesn’t seem to realise is their junk mail is actually not serving the purpose it was set up for.  Instead, it’s having the opposite effect.  Many disgruntled people like me are so fed up with them, we wouldn’t subscribe to their service even if it was free.  They can carry on being a virgin – they certainly won’t be touched by the hand of this man.

Roving Mick Joins Adoption Campaign

letsadopt paintMany people visiting this website won’t have met me.  But a lot of you will have seen my face in Blackburn town centre.

This is down to me being the grey-haired bloke in the latest poster being used by Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Adoption Team.  I jumped at the chance of doing my bit for the recruitment campaign and hope it will encourage some of you to consider finding out more about becoming adopters.

Every year, there are around 50 young children in Blackburn with Darwen who need adoptive parents. They range from babies and toddlers to children up to the age of 8 – and occasionally older.

The good news is that most people are able to adopt and with Blackburn with Darwen, you’ll be supported by one of the best adoption teams around.

They have introduced a quicker adoption process, which takes around six months to complete and includes training in child development, forming families and the special issues involved in adopting.

Find frequently asked questions about adoption on their website:

www.letsadopt.co.uk 

For more information or an informal chat, get in touch with their friendly and professional team.

Blackburn with Darwen Council
Children’s Services Department,
Floor 2, 10 Duke Street,
Blackburn BB2 1DH

T: 01254 666 806
E: info@letsadopt.co.uk

 

Prime Reason To Visit The Barrel House

I finally got to visit the land of my birth after half a century.Prime Barrel

Larnaca is eight miles from my Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area birthplace.  It has a pub, not to be missed by serious beer drinkers, called the Barrel House.  Located centrally down a leafy street, between the American Academy and Metro Market, it looks and feels like a genuine British pub.  It was good to see the effort they are making in here and definitely worth your support and encouragement.

Panayiotis, behind the bar, certainly spoils you for choice of beers from all around the world and he was friendly, enthusiastic about beer and very helpful.  But tonight he was the support act.  Star of the show was Loizos, the man behind Cyprus’s Prime Microbrewery.

This family owned brewery is based near Aiya Napa and is the first microbrewery in Cyprus.  Loizos said he had enjoyed beers across Europe, including real ale in Britain.  Unfortunately the hot weather of Cyprus makes the process of producing cask ale very difficult.  But he said he is working on it and will get there.

“We only use natural ingredients because we believe that beer must be a 100% natural product. Chemical and additives are not and will never be part of our beer or brewing mentality”.

Prime source their hops from Britain and New Zealand.  Which is a nice connection for me, being a Cyprus-born Brit and my sister Carole, living in New Zealand.

The main event for Sylvia, my girlfriend, and I was sampling Prime’s beer.  First up for me was their Golden Ale.  At 4.5% it was the right strength for this kind of beer.  It tasted nice and managed to avoid any tanginess.  IPA followed, very good too and I was beginning to think I was back in a pub in breezy Blighty, rather than sunny Cyprus.  Sylvia had a wheat beer, which I moved on to next.  Other punters in the Barrel House hadn’t seen a pint like this before and questioned my sanity in drinking such a cloudy drink.  But this was the real deal and those of us who enjoy wheat beers know it is cloudy and you don’t drink with your eyes.

Unfortunately for Sylvia and me, this enjoyable tasting event in the Barrel House had to come to an end.  It was refreshing, in more ways than one, to see Larnaca has a great pub waiting to be discovered.  And now the island has its own great microbrewery with a nice selection of beers waiting to be discovered too.

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.

Sally Sticky Fingers

Not this time!

We had a recent case in the news of an admin worker stealing money from the bank account of a resident of a local hostel.  The worker was in a trusted position and they abused their role over a lengthy period of time.  The resident had mental health issues, making the crime even more despicable.

Coverage in the local media was scant.  Only a small inside page column with an unidentifiable photograph.  Their article was mainly coverage used in their previous report.  There was not even a mention of this case on any of the local radio stations.

It seemed like everybody got the result they wanted.  The police, the bank and the hostel were all able to slap themselves on the back and brush this case under the carpet, saying justice had been done.  After all, a thief had been sent to prison and the victim would get back what money they all thought had probably gone missing.

Unfortunately our victim has mental health problems.  He has no idea how much money has been stolen because he put his trust in the admin worker for many years.  They will probably serve a couple of months in prison and return to their pious life and everything will soon be forgotten.

Our swindler used to be a pillar of the community.  Partaking of religion on a Sunday and praying for the kind of unfortunate souls they were to commit this heinous offence against.  Whereas our victim was despised by the community because of his circumstances.  Yet our victim has never harmed a fly and is often seen by many of us carrying out voluntary work in the town centre.

Maybe we should all shoulder some of the blame over what has happened to our victim.  We treat the mentally ill with disdain, blaming them for their own reduced circumstances.  In our area there used to be hospitals where they received professional care.  These were sold off for their land and property value, leading to many vulnerable people expelled into a society which saw them as an unwelcome burden.

Sadly we have seen terrible cases of exploitation by others, including the admin worker, currently inside.  Unscrupulous people will always home in on vulnerable people with mental health issues.  Perhaps the case of our victim is just the tip of the iceberg.  Perhaps this appalling case will make society look at exploitation of the mentally ill.  Or will everybody carry on regardless and have as much interest as the authorities have shown?