Blackburn Vs Millwall | Blackburn VS Fulham | Worthington Cup Final
Coming soon: Worthington Cup Review
Blackburn Rovers vs Millwall Lions F.A. Cup 4th Round
Saturday 26th January, The New Den
As described by Mark
As football matches go, this was never going to have the appeal of a derby game. Nor would it ever attract as much press as a pre-match David Beckham sniffle. But when you’re a fan from the farthest reaches of the known universe, who has never seen his team play a full 90 minutes before, it becomes an occasion to savour!
Surprisingly to me, Rovers support was quite strong. Occupying the stand behind one of the goals, a brief glance around from our front-and-centre seats told me some 500 hard-core supporters had ridden the coat-tails of their beloved team all the way from Lancashire to London.
As the game approached, the dying throes of the James number ‘Sit Down’ were ignored, thousands of Millwall fans standing with their arms stretched above them to begin a spine-tingling mono-tonal ‘melody’. As the stadium echoed with this eerie sound, the significance of this ritual dawned on me: they were the Millwall Lions! Their arms raised above their heads, they imitated the mime of a child playing the role of king of the jungle. As comical as this seems, the sound issuing forth from the mouths of a sea of skinheads in the stands around us lent a primal power to their display. The closest description I can offer for this mono-tonal wail is that of a train passing through a tunnel, the sound of its motion reverberating against your eardrums in an arresting, hypnotic manner.
This display certainly seemed to unnerve the Rovers support in the early going, but as our boys on the pitch calmly controlled proceedings you could sense a growing confidence. By around half time it was still nil all, and the Millwall fans played their final card of contempt to the vocally passive Blackburn fans
If they wanted to inspire some fight in the visiting supporters they knew where to aim! Their chant of "You’re not very, you’re not very, you’re not very good" had pierced the symbol of pride hung around their Bulldog necks, and the Rovers fans suddenly broke into song: "Souness’s blue and white army!" was soon followed by "Andy Cole, Andy Cole, Andy, Andy Cole. He gets the ball, scores the goal, Andy, Andy Cole!"
Chanting such slogans as these in their broad Lancashire accents, the Rovers fans worried the Lions like a dog worries its prey. Similarly, the Rovers players began to worry their opposition off the ball, snapping at their heels with sudden zest and energy.
Then the drums sounded. The thump of the drums lent weight to the defiant voices of the blue and white army, carrying an authority that can only be sustained by the actions of your team on the pitch.
It was by now late in the game. The nil all deadlock remained, but the Rovers fans had worried the Millwall fans out of it by now, their constant chants nipping at the heels of their larger foe. All that was needed was the killer blow. 87 minutes had elapsed. Suddenly Rovers broke, the diminutive but quick Alan Mahon sprinted towards us down the left wing, ball on a string. Andy Cole made for the far post. We all sensed it. I drew my camera out and focused on the far post as the cross from Mahon split the defence and Andy made no mistake hammering the ball down and into the back of the net with authority.
The game was over. One nil to Rovers and a potent knockout blow to punctuate the fans fight back campaign after half time.
Blackburn vs Fulham, Premiership Game
Sunday the 9th February, Craven Cottage
As described by Mark
Well after the Millwall game Marta and I were raring to go, so we snapped up tickets to the Fulham game on the 9th of February. Unfortunately it was a gloomy day for a football game and after a bright spell for the first 20 mins when our Andy hit the post, the cloud cover closed in.
In the darkness one of the Fulham ruffians (I forget who) must not have noticed Tugay playing with the ball in the centre of the pitch, and ran straight through him to collect the ball. While the referee searched for his white cane in the grass, the Fulham juggernaut rolled on, squishing any resistance from our defence and bullocking the ball into the back of the net.
Our lads held out until half time, but I think they must have skipped manager Souness's pep talk during the break, substituted dopplegangers, and caught an early train home! It was a very poor performance in the second half and we never looked like pegging Fulham back. Instead the hosts eventually put us out of our misery and sealed the win 2-0. To make matters worse, Tugay picked up a yellow card and Craig Short was sent off in injury time, meaning both would miss the League Cup Final in Cardiff!
Short is an experienced defender and would have been invaluable in the Cup Final. However, the real killer was Tugay's suspension because it meant two of our three engine room players in midfield were unavailable. Club Captain Garry Flitcroft was already suspended for the final, and this left only local boy David Dunn to cover central midfield. It seemed events were conspiring against Rovers as they neared their first major Cup Final in 42 years.
Things were not looking good for Blackburn.
Worthington Cup Final (Blackburn VS Tottenham) coming soon!
Yes yes, it's been "coming soon" for the last year or so. Anyone wishing to register their complaint can email Mark personally!!
(This one's for you Graham)