Blackburn Rovers @ Ewood Park

Stadia

Blackburn Rovers @ Ewood Park with thanks to Above All Images/Ian Hay

This is the club of my grandparents Jimmy & Elsie Ainsworth, and the one which I picked to join in preference to Everton, Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City in 1959.

The following text is taken from the book, Football Grounds, and was written by Cassandra Wells.

Blackburn Rovers were formed in 1875 by a group of former public schoolboys.  It took the club a year before they settled at their first ground, Oozehead, to play regular matches.  The club moved a further four times before settling at Ewood Park in 1890.  During this time, they had become the first real giants of English football, winning the FA Cup three years in a row from 1884 and again in 1890.  In 1905 Laurence Cotton, a textile baron, set about transforming the ground.  Between 1905 and 1914 he spent an estimated £12,000 on players and £33,000 on ground improvements.  First came a pitched roof on the Darwen End, followed by the building of the Main Stand and the Nuttall Street Stand.  Further improvements in 1914 came after Rovers had won the League title, when the Riverside Stand was built.  By 1913 the capacity was 70,866.  Little changed at the ground until 1960, when a Cup final appearance helped fund a cantilevered roof over the Blackburn End.  In 1980 safety regulations brought the capacity at Ewood Park down to 23,400 and tough times followed.  In 1983, just 3,797 turned up to see the last game of the season.  Fire checks in 1985 saw the upper tier of the Riverside End and the terrace below closed.  In 1987 Rovers’ fortunes improved and chairman Bill Fox persuaded his friend Jack Walker to help rebuild the Riverside Stand.  This would be the start of a remarkable relationship.  In 1991 Walker decided to buy 62% share in the Rovers and spent £13 million on the team in his first 18 months.  He then drew up plans for the building of three two-tiered stands.  The building work incensed some locals, as houses and a local mill would need to be demolished.  Regardless of this, the council approved the plans and in 1993 the developments began.  When the Jack Walker Stand was opened in November 1994, the capacity was up to 31,367.”

Editor’s note: In the 1994-95 season, Rovers won the Premiership title with arch rivals Manchester United finishing runners up.  In the summer of 1996 Alan Shearer was top goalscorer at Euro 96 and was linked to domestic and international clubs. The main talk in the national media was of Shearer joining hated rivals Manchester United.  Jack Walker and the Lancashire Telegraph constantly dismissed rumors of Shearer joining Manchester United.  Local journalist Peter White stated that the club would never be forgiven should Shearer be allowed to join Manchester United.

Ultimately Shearer settled for a move to Newcastle United, the club he had supported all his life and became a folk hero in the same vein as Jackie Milburn.

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