This fascinating exhibition match was organised by the BRFC Action Group . The game pitched a supporters eleven against Rovers Legends featuring club favourites such as Simon Garner, Tugay, Newell, Hendry, Ripley, Gallagher and a whole host of stars from great days gone by. An impressive and enthusiastic crowd were buzzing in a way that hasn't been seen at Ewood in a long time.
Co-Chairman of the Rovers Trust Wayne Wild captained the supporters eleven, who were always going to be in for a tough encounter against such an array of stars. The supporters eleven and ‘Wildinho’ quickly found out that the legends still had it in abundance. It was fascinating to see classic old players combining together and flowing together like a team that had played together for years although for many, it was the first time they had.
Tugay and Ripley were particularly effective, wreaking havoc down the wings. The commentator joked after the match that Tugay had broken the world record for number of touches – he wasn't far wrong. Tugay was sensational to watch in his playing days and he is one of those players that would light up any exhibition match whatever his age. The skill, comedy and vision is still there and he delighted the crowd with his flicks, touches and a goal of real beauty.
The supporters keeper made an impressive array of saves, but it did not stop the legends firing seven beauties past the supporters team with a brace from Super Atko and Craig Hignett. Simon Garner graced the field in the second half and the crowd willed him and the supporters eleven to score. Alas, Garner didn't hit the net, but the supporters Greg Paul hit a pearler past John Filan in the closing minutes to retain some pride.
All considered, a really good night and an amazing reminder of the good old days. The match highlighted just how important Blackburn Rovers is to supporters and former players, bringing optimism back to Ewood and reminding us what could be again.
Article and Photographs by Alex Fenton