09/03/2014

Rovers Lost, So What

Somebody once told me that to appreciate the beautiful game, you have to go through the bad times before you reach the good.

As a Blackburn Rovers supporter this statement is absolute. To be an active fan of this club you must accept that there are dreadfully bad times - relegation, the death of the great Jack Walker, incompetent owners who are vulnerable to incredibly bad advice, and losing a 35 year unbeaten record against arch rivals Burnley.
Arte et labore
On the other hand, as a Blackburn Rovers supporter, you experience absolutely awesome times, happenings that invite euphoria into Ewood Park provoking ecstasy amongst fans - winning the Premier League, the Worthington Cup, beating Manchester United and Arsenal, and heroic David Dunn.

Football is a dangerous sport to fall in love with. It is completely unpredictable, it is emotionally straining, and it is expensive. However, the unpredictability is the thing which completely hooks fans on the sport. You don't know what is going to happen because anything could.

Blackburn were beating Burnley for the majority of the match on Sunday, then a questionable substitution which saw David Dunn replaced by Liam Feeney spurred Burnley on to score two goals taking not only three points but bragging rights. It was absolutely gutting, utterly heart breaking and sickening.

For about 30 minutes I could not speak - I was absolutely devastated by the result, and the manner in which Rovers lost. However, after the initial reaction, I took a different approach to the result. A 35 year record had just been broken, Rovers had scuppered their final chance of making the play-offs, and we had just lost to Burnley, but part of me realised that it didn't matter - I loved my team, and I was proud to be a Blackburn Rovers fan.

Through this abysmal loss, some sort of cathartic revelation and reflection manifested itself in me. Blackburn have had a turbulent three years, but they've come so far. All the poison which has infected the club since the Venky's took over, is finally oozing out. Shebby Singh's sacking was the removal of the last shard of glass which had so harmfully penetrated the club.

Blackburn under Gary Bowyer have created a strong, hardworking side who can develop and prosper over the next couple of seasons, whatever my opinions of Bowyer's questionable tactics, I thank him for ridding the team of money grabbing free riders, and creating a team of fighting young men.

While I was thinking about this, I began reminiscing about the last ten years or so, remembering beating Manchester United 3-2 away, beating Sunderland at home to get the first back to back clean sheet all season under Steve Kean, and the first game I went to as a season ticket holder against Arsenal when we beat them 4-3 due to two own goals. I started thinking of all the memorable players that have worn blue and white halves; Matt Jansen, Tugay, Bentley, Matt Derbyshire, Santa Cruz, Craig Bellamy, Benni McCarthy, Jason Roberts, Salgado, Brett Emerton, Brad Friedel, Ryan Nelsen. Tens upon tens of players who I have loved and cherished watching.

It was at this point that I realised that despite the circumstances Blackburn were in, despite losing the biggest game of the season, and having 35 years of bragging rights taken off them by a good side, I was proud of my club and I loved them.

The epiphany I'd like to share is that I have spent so long of my football supporting time worrying about the results of matches, concerned about my club and fretting about relegation or losing a game, but really there is no point in that. Nothing I do can change the results of matches, but I can, and will, support that club until the very death of me.

Without sounding sickeningly cliched, football is a way of life and it is the longevity of a fans support that makes a football allegiance so incredibly special.

Blackburn Rovers lost a piece of history today, but they are my football club, and I love them.

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