Season 10 - Blackburn PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark W   
Sunday, 11 February 2018 14:28

Blackburn Rovers v Oldham Athletic – League One

Ewood Park, Blackburn

Saturday 10th February 2018, 15:00 K.O.

Blackburn 1


Football rivalries are much more complex than many seem to think. There are plenty that will never change but I suspect that most are generational. On the whole, rivalries are forged in the first 5 years tor so that you support a team. You may well grow to dislike clubs later on but I’m not convinced that your feelings will ever be as strong as those you develop in those early days. For a lot of our younger fans, Rochdale and Bury would feature high on their lists. For those a little older, Wigan and even Tranmere will be hated. For me, it’s all about three clubs… our friends from Salford, W*nky Wanderers and B*stard Rovers. When I started watching Oldham as the 80s turned into the 90s we were coming towards the end of a couple of decades where we had found ourselves competing with the men from Ewood Park. The views of those who had lived through this period certainly rubbed off on me.

My views softened a bit in 1993 when they went head to head with United for the first Premier League title. I might have strongly disliked them but I really hated United so I found myself wanting them to win. I wouldn’t go so far to say that I was cheering them on but they were certainly the lesser of two evils. When we played them earlier this season, therefore, I surprised myself with how strongly I still felt. That rivalry was definitely still there for me.

The win against Bradford last week had restored a bit of confidence that we might be able to drag ourselves away from trouble once again. I didn’t travel to Ewood with too much hope though. Our hosts were looking like strong favourites to join Wigan in the two promotion spots come the end of the season. Furthermore, I had been to Ewood on four previous occasions.

Played 4 Won 0 Drawn 0 Lost 4 Goals For 0 Goals Against 6

The last of those games had come over 16 years ago on 12 September 2001. It’s a date that sticks in the memory as the previous day the world changed as the Twin Towers fell to the floor. To this day it is one of the strangest atmospheres I have ever experienced at a football match.

Plans for this away day were made some time ago but a couple of weeks before they came to fruition, mine had to change. The mayhem of trains and city centre pubs sounded like fun but the sensible option and a day with my mum was the winner. It didn’t mean I couldn’t try out a few pubs, though, and a reasonably early start was agreed to allow us to get to the Black Bull for opening time.

I don’t think I have ever been drinking in Blackburn before with most trips being when I was still a kid and the 2001 game being a midweek cup game when I got there at the last minute. Unfortunately, therefore, I didn’t have the option to go to an ale-house I used to frequent.

Blackburn 2

What a great the Black Bull was. Attached to the 3 B’s Brewery, there was an excellent range of beers and even though we weren’t going to be there for long I maximized my tasting opportunities with a flight of some of their finest. I couldn’t fault the Doff Cocker, Pinch Noggin or Knocker Up. This will definitely be my pub of choice if we are still in the same division as each other next season.

Blackburn 3

Blackburn 4

We needed to park nearer to the ground and so it was decided to head down and move on to the Fernhurst behind the away end. What a mistake that was. Utter chaos. With having my mum with me, I’d had the foresight to book a table so we could have some food. We got in easily enough but there was no table available. We were promised one in 20 minutes so I headed to the bar. By the time the table became available, I still hadn’t been served. Never mind, I could now simply order the drinks with the food so I headed into the restaurant section only to see that food needed to be ordered at the bar. Oops.

This clearly wasn’t going to work so we opted to move on.

The sandwich shop opposite the ground provided much better grub than we would have no doubt received if we could have found a way of making it to the bar in the pub. A little further along the road we found the Ewood Park Working Men’s Club. It appears that mum and I didn’t look like your stereotypical hooligans as we were invited in. Much quieter and better beer. I think we did alright in the end. Sam Smith’s stout is always a decent tipple.

Blackburn 5

Perhaps the door policy in the club wasn’t quite as stringent as I thought as Dave, Neil and Leon soon joined us after they had given up in the town centre. It certainly sounded like we had taken over Blackburn for the day. Those trains were just as busy as I had imagined.

Eventually we made our way to the ground and stopped for the obligatory photo. These are few and far between these days. If we get one new ground a season, that is as good as it gets.

Blackburn 6

I was impressed with this. A nice touch.

Blackburn 7

“No flags” they told me as I got to the turnstile. “There are absolutely no flags today, the club has decided”. To cut a long story short, I took the flag in with me, with the full agreement of the chief steward. They can be sensible when they want to. There was no chance of putting it up, though.

If the pub had been chaos, this was on a whole new level. There are pretty strict safety rules inside football grounds. Not, it would appear, at Ewood Park. We went up the stairs into the stand and you couldn’t move. We fought our way up about 10 steps but there was no way we were getting any further. All aisles were just packed with fans who couldn’t find seats. I don’t like sitting at grounds and the mayhem really doesn’t bother me. My mum isn’t as young as she once was, though. You have a slightly different perspective on these things when you are with someone who needs some space and ideally a seat.

Blackburn 8

I don’t know how they got away with it. Photos of the away end make it very clear that there were a lot more fans than seats in our section. That’s not acceptable. What made it ten times worse was that half the stand was allocated to home fans despite there only being a handful in there. There was also a whole other tier that they didn’t deem necessary to open. People could have been seriously injured and it isn’t as though they didn’t know how many of us were coming as we had sold almost 1,900 tickets in advance.

Blackburn 9

The atmosphere was fantastic. For everything I have just said, 2,000 fans stood up singing creates quite a din. No Nay Never being sung with gusto (as an aside, I keep reading from B*stard fans that we somehow shouldn’t sing that because it is a Burnley song. I don’t quite get this. I have no idea who sung it first, it was probably Burnley, but we have definitely been singing it since before I started going almost 30 years ago).

We were superb in the first half. They were getting hammered. I have already mentioned my record at Ewood, though, and so I still didn’t believe we could actually score. Then the Duck picked up the ball just over the half way line and suddenly turned into Lionel Messi. The Darwen End went bananas. It was as good a bounce as I have experienced in some time (Chesterfield last season I guess). There was better to come, though as he only went and did it again. Two up at half time was like being in dreamland.

Blackburn 10

We hadn’t been two to the good at the break away from home since MK Dons in October. That ended well. We couldn’t possibly blow it again, especially as they had shown nothing which suggested they could get back into the game.

Of course we could. As we reached the hour mark, I still didn’t feel we were in any real trouble but a cracking free kick got them right back into it. Then, as has happened far to often this season, we panicked and found ourselves massively under the cosh. It was no surprise when the equalizer went in. For the first time all day, the atmosphere amongst the travelling hoards was muted.

It got worse when Moimbe showed his lack of experience in English football and found himself trudging off having been shown a red card. It was going to be a long final 8 minutes.

We did still have a couple of chances to win it. Holloway should have done better when the chance fell to him and the referee certainly should have done better when he decided to blow up for a non-existent foul as we robbed a defender creating a fantastic 3 on 1 opportunity.

It wasn’t to be, though and we were left to chew our nails a little more when the ref found another 8 minutes of injury time from somewhere. We hung on for what ultimately was a very good point. It certainly felt like a defeat though. I would have ripped your arm off for a point when I was leaving home yet I arrived back with exactly that outcome but feeling so downbeat.

On to MK Dons now on Tuesday and a game we really could do with winning to put ourselves in the best possible place to ensure that we can look forward to season 22 of “Oldham in League One”.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 11 February 2018 14:36