Before the Leicester City fairy tale, there was also a similar story born from England. The story of Blackburn Rovers, which was considered as a dark horse team, had eventually won the title at the end of the season.
Yes. In the 1994/95 season, the team from Lancashire shocked English and even European football. In that season, the club, which at that time was led by Kenny Dalglish, managed to come out as the English Premier League champion right in the last week of the league.
The club which at that time was still strengthened by famous names such as Colin Hendry, Tim Sherwood, Alan Shearer, and Chris Sutton, was able to stop the hegemony of Manchester United which in the previous two seasons ruled England.
Blackburn exactly won the English Premier League title on May 14, 1995, at Anfield Stadium. Playing in bright sunlight, Blackburn must recognize the superiority of Liverpool hosts with a thin score of 1-2. The defeat created sadness in the camp of Blackburn and his supporters.
But this loss was still ended with a smile. A few minutes later, there was another news from another match. Manchester United was held to a 1-1 draw by the host, West Ham United. The previous sadness became extraordinary happiness for the players and supporters of Blackburn.
In the primary league, there were 22 clubs. Among the 42 matches, Blackburn won 27 wins, 8 draws and 7 defeats. They were able to score 80 goals and conceded only 39 times with a score of 89 points, a point ahead from the Red Devils which was in second place.
What made it more interesting during their struggle in winning the title is that Blackburn lost twice to Sir Alex Ferguson’s troops, their most challenger in the season. Blackburn defeated 4-2 in the first match, then lost 1-0 early in 1995, but they remained focused and continued the rest of the season with consistent play.
The achievement of the title became sensational because it has been 81 years since their last league title in 1914. The trophy also became the first trophy after the FA trophy in 1928. Blackburn’s success even made them the first team besides MU to be able to embrace the league title with a new format, namely the Premier League.
The rare and extraordinary achievement obtained by Blackburn could not be separated from the figure of Jack Walker. Born in Lancashire, he is a wealthy businessman who is fanatical about supporting Blackburn Rovers.
In January 1991, Walker’s dream to buy his favorite club came true. But Blackburn which he bought at the time was struggling in the second division. Blackburn finished the 1990/91 season by occupying only 19th place out of 24 teams.
The next season might be regarded as the beginning of the resurgence of Blackburn Rovers. At that time, Walker brought Kenny Dalglish to coach the white and blue jersey. Walker’s decision to bring Dalglish who had success with Liverpool eventually brought a positive result.
In the 1991/92 season, Blackburn occupied the league’s 6th ladder and went on to win the play-offs to get promotion tickets to the top castes.
And after nearly three decades of absence in the primary league, Blackburn returned to the competition in the top tier of English football in the 1992/93 season.
Walker gave Dalglish the freedom to shop for star players. The opportunity was made by Dalglish by recruiting young attackers, Alan Shearer from Southampton at a cost of 3.6 million pounds or Rp. 60 billion. Aside from Shearer, Dalglish helped bring in Team Sherwood and made him captain of Blackburn Rovers that season.
In that season, Blackburn successfully became a dark horse team by being ranked fourth at the end of the standings. For a club that has just been promoted to the English top league, 4th place is a very good achievement.
The next season, the club which based in Ewood Park increasingly showed its quality as a dark horse team with 84 points bagged and finished as runners up under Manchester United.
Then, in their bid to win the league, Blackburn Rovers once again shopped big at the start of the 1994/95 season. They even made two records in the transfer market.
First, they bought a young striker, Chris Sutton from Norwich City for 5 million. Second, they recruited Southampton goalkeeper, Tim Flowers, for 2.5 million.
The presence of Chris Sutton then produced a lethal attack duo in the Premier League, the SAS duo (Shearer and Sutton), which became the most expensive duo in England at the time. In the primary league, both of them scored 49 goals in total. Shearer scored 34 goals which earned him the golden boot, while Sutton scored 15.
Thanks to the primary league trophy, Blackburn was finally able to compete in the European Champions League the following season, or rather in the 1995/96 season. They joined in group B with Rosenborg Trondheim (Norway), Spartak Moscow (Russia), and Legia Warsaw (Poland).
Seeing Blackburn rivals in the group phase, at that time their chances of advancing to the next round were actually quite large, especially since two names in the group were not too well-known, such as Rosenborg and Legia Warsaw. Plus, Blackburn’s squad was the same as the previous season.
However, what happened instead became a nightmare for Blackburn. They ended becoming a caretaker in group B, only pocketing four points from one win, one draw and the rest was a loss.
The 1995 primary league trophy seems became a memory. During the rest of the seasons, they were getting slumped. Blackburn was relegated to the Championship division in 1998/99, although they were finally able to return to the 2001/02 season.
They were again getting down in the caste in the 2011/12 season. Packing just 31 points, The Rovers finished in19th position. The difference is that in this second degradation, Blackburn never recovered. Instead of getting better and reaching the top division, they went down into the lower division which was called League One.