History of Blackburn Rovers F.C.
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|Full name||Blackburn Rovers Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||Rovers, Blue and Whites|
|Ground||Ewood Park, Blackburn, Lancashire|
|Owner||Venky's London Limited|
|League||Football League Championship|
The early years
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 FA 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.
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.
Rovers won the FA Cup in 1884 with a 2–1 victory over Queens Park (Glasgow). The same teams met in the final the next season, with Blackburn Rovers winning 2–0. Rovers won the FA Cup again in 1886, defeating West Bromwich Albion after a replay.
The Football League and Ewood Park
On 2 March 1888, William McGregor, a Birmingham shopkeeper and a committee member of Aston Villa Football Club, sent a letter to five clubs — Blackburn Rovers among them — suggesting that twelve of the leading clubs should organise a series of home and away matches between themselves. With the introduction of professional players, it seemed natural that better organisation should be brought to the complex and chaotic system of friendly and competitive matches prevalent at the time. On 22 March 1888 John Birtwistle represented Blackburn Rovers at a meeting of a number of clubs at the Anderton Hotel in London. This meeting, and subsequent ones, led to the creation of the Football League, with Blackburn Rovers as part of it. Rovers finished the inaugural season of the league in fourth place, and unbeaten at home.
Early 20th century
They were league champions in 1912 and 1914, and FA Cup winners in 1928.
Mid 20th century
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.
1970s and 1980s
They won the Third Division title in 1975.
They were promoted as runners up in the Third Division in 1980. In 1988–89 they reached the Second Division playoff final in its last-ever season of the home-away two-legged format — but lost to Crystal Palace. In 1989–90 they lost in the Second Division play-off semi-finals, but the following season saw the club taken over by local steelworks owner and lifelong supporter Jack Walker.
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. They remained in the title challenge for most of the season before finishing fourth in the final table. In 1993–94, they were Premiership runners-up to 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.
Blackburn won the Premier League in 1994–95.
Alan Shearer was sold to hometown club Newcastle United for a then world record fee of £15million in the summer of 1996.
They were relegated in 1998-99.
The new millennium
They were promoted back to the Premier League in 2000–01.
After qualifying for Europe, Rovers signed South African striker Benni McCarthy from Porto as a replacement for the departed Craig Bellamy. Rovers finished top of their European group and were drawn against Bayer Leverkusen, losing 3–2 on aggregate. The club was busy during the January transfer window, signing David Dunn, Stephen Warnock, Christopher Samba and Bruno Berner. Leaving the squad were Dominic Matteo, Andy Taylor (loan), Joe Garner (loan), Lucas Neill and Jay McEveley. In cup competitions, Rovers were knocked out of the Carling Cup in the Third Round. They defeated Everton, Luton, Arsenal (after replay) and Manchester City in the FA Cup. Thereafter, they faced Chelsea for a place in the final, losing 2–1 when Michael Ballack scored Chelsea's winner in extra time.
To prepare for the 2007–08 season Rovers bought Roque Santa Cruz, Maceo Rigters and Gunnar Nielsen. In the January 2008 transfer window, Robbie Savage left for Derby in a £1.5m (rising to £2m) transfer to seek first team football. Rovers were never at any stage during the season outside the top ten and made their best start to a campaign for 10 years and Santa Cruz brilliantly shone scoring 23 goals in all competitions.
On 22 June 2008, it was announced by the club that Paul Ince had been brought in to manage Rovers after MArk Hughes left, signing a three-year deal. Ince was presented to the media on Tuesday 24 June. Ince's first job though as the Blackburn Manager is to persuade some of the players who wanted to follow Hughes or pursue other teams, to stay .
Ince's reign as Blackburn Rovers manager got off to the perfect start, with a 3–2 away win against Everton FC in the first game to the 2008–09 season. Blackburn drew 1–1 at home to Hull City before two heavy defeats to West Ham and Arsenal. They bounced back well and recorded back-to-back wins against Fulham and Newcastle United, but faded drastically: three draws and seven defeats, including five defeats in a row to saw Blackburn slip to 19th in the table after 16 games. This led to Ince coming under increasing pressure: he enjoyed some success in the Carling Cup, with wins over Everton and Sunderland. Eventually Ince paid the price for poor results, and a 3–0 defeat away to Wigan saw him sacked a few days later.
He was replaced by the former Bolton manager Sam Allardyce. Allardyce secured Premier League survival, and despite a difficult start to the 2009–10 season Rovers recovered well in the second half of the campaign to secure a comfortable 10th-place finish with 50 points — placing them 20 points clear of the relegation zone.
In November 2010, the Indian company V H Group bought Blackburn Rovers under the name of Venky's London Limited for £23 million. The new owners immediately sacked manager Sam Allardyce and replaced him with first-team coach Steve Kean, initially on a temporary basis, but by January 2011 he had been awarded a full-time contract until June 2013. Kean's appointment was shrouded in a great deal of controversy since his agent Jerome Anderson had earlier played a major role in advising Venky's during the takeover of the club in the preceding months.
In December 2011, Blackburn Rovers posted an annual pre-tax loss of £18.6m for the year ending 30 June 2011. Despite this, the owners of Blackburn Rovers provided assurances over the continued funding of the club, even if they were relegated.
At the start of the 2012-2013 season, Steve Kean, the manager in charge for the previous relegation season, was given a chance by owners to win promotion and kept his job as the manager. Ultimately though, pressure from the supporters who had been calling for the managers removal for months resulted in his resignation as manager on 29 September 2012.
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