Dedicated Rovers fan John Pittard’s long-serving loyalty has been rightfully rewarded.
John hasn’t missed a game - home or away - for the past 40 years, he has been cleaning the windows at Ewood Park for the past 30 years and he is now a worthy recipient of one of 20 Golden Tickets.
The 58-year-old, from Oswaldtwistle, was presented with the free season ticket for the 2014-15 Championship campaign by Rovers’ head groundsman and long-time friend Steve Patrick.
“I’m honoured to receive it,” said John, who was nominated for the special prize by several Rovers supporters.
“I’d like to thank Alan (Myers) – I think he’s a great bloke and from meeting him, I think he’s a good appointment. Hopefully, with Gary (Bowyer), this year we can kick on and get promotion and get back to where we belong.
“It’s a nice gesture (from the club) and hopefully they’ll be giving more away next year if we get into the Premier League!
“I’ve known Steve (Patrick) for years. Before he was groundsman here, he was groundsman down at Pleasington – the local council pitches – where Rovers used to train.
“I used to play a lot of football on a Sunday morning and Steve was always the groundsman there. He’s a larger-than-life character and a very important person, because his pitches here and down at the training ground are always immaculate.”
John has seen a lot of changes to the club – both on and off the pitch – over the past four decades, but believes Rovers are heading in the right direction under new boss Gary Bowyer.
“Ever since I was a kid, I came down here and the ground was like an old-fashioned ground – wooden stands, terraces – and then Jack Walker came along and built all the new stands and put all the executive boxes in and made it an all-seater stadium and it just changed beyond anybody’s wildest dreams,” he added.
“I was brought down by my parents when I was an infant. Before I can even remember, I used to go with my father and grandfather to away games as a little kid. I remember the old First Division, prior to the relegation in 1966.
“Basically I just love football. Whenever there’s a game, we just decide that’s it, we’re going. Everything’s planned out, I go with a group of lads and we just never miss a match.”
John’s Rovers obsession even saw him take his wife on their honeymoon to Sweden.
“I took the wife to Sweden for a pre-season tour and we took six matches in,” he added. “She’s not a football fan as such, but she knew several of the players and she enjoyed it.”
Rovers’ Golden Ticket giveaway is in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Rovers lifting the Premiership trophy, but John insists that the title triumph isn’t his all-time highlight.
“My best memory, I think would be 1987 when they won the Full Members’ Cup, because it was the first thing they’d ever won in my lifetime.
“I know 1995 was great, but to win the Full Members’ Cup and go to Wembley, which in those days was just for the FA Cup and League Cup finals, and in only the second year of the competition, was great.
“I think if the season had gone on for a few more weeks, with the team we had, we probably would have made the play-offs easily and I thought we were the form team in the league going into the play-offs. I think with the squad that Gary Bowyer’s assembled and to be honest I think he’s worked miracles in assembling this squad, I’ve got every confidence in him.
“After my wife, Blackburn Rovers means everything to me! It’s a healthy obsession. I’ve been all over the world watching them and met a lot of people – here, there and everywhere – all over the world, who I still keep in contact with.”
Steve Patrick, who last season celebrated his 25th year at the club, added: “I’ve known John for a long time – probably 30 years or more – and he’s certainly the biggest Rovers fan I’ve ever come across.
“I was in India a couple of years ago with the owners and John made the trip across. He’s been to America, all over Europe and the guy deserves everything he gets, because he must spend an awful lot of money per season.
“As a Blackburn fan, he’s as big as they come. All of his family are involved as well, so all credit to the guy, he’s Blackburn through and through. He loves the club.”