When you think of Blackburn Rovers now, you immediately think of physicality, long balls and football as ugly as their boss Sam Allardyce. But the fact remains that Rovers are only one of four sides to win the Premier League since it began in 1992.
Thanks to Jack Walker’s millions the Lancashire side were the Manchester City of the 90s, splashing the cash to bring in the likes of Alan Shearer, David Batty and Tim Flowers to a newly refurbished Ewood Park, and they would go on to win probably the tightest title race of the modern era.
The key signing came when they broke the British transfer record once again to sign Chris Sutton for £5 million from Norwich just before the 1994/95 season began. He and Shearer immediately struck up a fantastic partnership and began scoring goals for fun, netting 49 in total as Blackburn soon topped the table with champions Manchester United trailing.
It looked to finally be the season that Kenny Dalglish’s men were going to win their first league championship since 1914, especially when United’s star player Eric Cantona went all kung-fu on a Crystal Palace fan and would miss the remainder of the season, but Alex Ferguson signed Andy Cole for £7 million from Newcastle and wouldn’t give up.
Whilst United went goal-crazy, including beating Ipswich 9-0, Blackburn began to crumble. Their large lead at the top was cut dramatically and the title went down to the final day of the season where Rovers had to travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool, and United had a seemingly easier task just to beat West Ham. If United won and Rovers dropped points, the trophy would be in Ferguson’s hands for a third season in a row.
In one of the most remarkable days in Premier League history, Shearer netted his 34th goal of the season to give Blackburn the lead, and West Ham opened the scoring at Upton Park. United levelled through Brian McClair and Liverpool came back to win the game in the final minute. United though couldn’t score the crucial goal and Rovers were champions.
It would be as good as it got for Blackburn as Dalglish moved into a director of football role and they struggled the following season before Shearer left and the side started to break up. They would be relegated four seasons after their league triumph and haven’t come close to repeating it since.
But how refreshing would be it to see someone else from outside the “Big Four” actually take the championship once again? Here’s to hoping that 2010/11 is the season where a new name is carved onto the trophy.