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Ewood you believe it!

By Lee Ryder on Dec 8, 06 12:09 PM

Trip to face Rovers is not the mouth watering prospect it once was

Once upon time a visit to Blackburn Rovers was a big deal.

Newcastle were flying high under Kevin Keegan with Andy Cole, Peter Beardsley and Lee Clark the main men for the Entertainers while moneybags Rovers were on their way to becoming the best team in the land with Alan Shearer, the late Jack Walker and Kenny Dalglish firmly steering the ship.

Any game involving Newcastle United is still a big deal - not least the need for points by both sides tomorrow - but what I mean is the Rovers from Lancashire taking on the mighty Magpies once meant as much as Chelsea v Liverpool or Arsenal v Manchester United does now.

Because even though as recently as the 1991/92 season both sides were scrapping it out in the old Second Divison - this encounter was once the clash of the titans!

Waiting to welcome both sides tomorrow will be rows of empty seats and certainly no live TV crews with the game overlooked by Sky in favour of Arsenal-Chelsea and Man U-Man City.

Indeed back in 1994, Newcastle's first Premiership visit to Ewood was a top three clash with David May's late goal taking the points for Rovers.

A year later, after Marc Hottiger and Lee Clark goals had dumped Blackburn out of the FA Cup in a third round replay, Rovers triumphed again in the Premier League.

This time a certain Alan Shearer on target in blue and white for the team poised to become champions with the Geordie scoring the only goal of the game.

But in 1996 it was United going for the title and in a crunch encounter a different Geordie boy covered himself in glory.

Unfortunately for United it was Graham Fenton whose late strikes earned a heart breaking 2-1 win.

Fenton, a boyhood Toon fan, helped ensure the title was staying in the North-West across in Old Trafford.

Since then we had a last minute winner for Chris Sutton in 1998 and Steve Harper's penalty saving heroics from Jeff Kenna in 1999 - but as a Premiership spectacle, the clash has gone down hill.

It was sparked off by Rovers relegation to the second tier of English football but things have never quite been the same in this fixture since.

It might sound negative but a quick glance at where the two teams are in the table tells us all exactly why.

4 Comments

oxboy said:

This is a big game for both clubs but I suspect that the form table is the key to the outcome. Blackburn languish at the bottom and we have moved up to the dizzy heights of ninth.
We need to win to break free of the trash at the bottom and keep in touch with that european spot for next year, Blackburn are simply desperate for anything.
We can win this, believe me but I see the key battle as Taylor / Mcarthy. Taylor tends to be caught square on to attackers and Benni will run straight at him, excitibg stuff but a rare away win for the toon.

Ian Teasdale said:

With Blackburn level on point with us this morning we go into another must win game, not to mention putting a gap between us and the smoggies.
This is a game we should win, if we stand any chance of a top half finish.
I predict 1-2 to us, with Martins getting 1 and Taylor the other.( I hope)
lets see at 4.45

oxboy said:

Ian Teasdale - did your lottery numbers come up saturday as well?

jackie w said:

Should have wrote that at 4.45 rather than 4.40 and you could have got the score right ian

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Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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