This season we're looking back on that memorable and historic achievement of 1994-95, 25 years on, with a member of that legendary squad.
Jason Wilcox was next to take a trip down memory lane for our programme against Brentford to reflect on some magical times...
Jason, can you quite believe that we’re approaching 25 years since Rovers lifted the Premiership trophy?
No, not really. I can remember it like it was yesterday. Not specifically every game, but just moments throughout the season and in particular that last day at Anfield, which was just amazing for everybody. It doesn’t seem like 25 years at all, it was just an unbelievable experience for everybody at that time. Those three years that we had together were just incredible. I’m sure everyone has said the same, I just feel extremely lucky to have played in that team and being managed by Kenny Dalglish, Ray Harford, Tony Parkes and the other staff. It was a big team effort and an amazing experience.
What was it like for you in particular, who had been at the club for a number of years leading up to that historic campaign?
I don’t think it was necessarily any more special for me than the other players. To win a Premier League, at that moment in time, with the dominance from the other clubs, was just an unbelievable experience and an unbelievable achievement for Blackburn Rovers at that time. A small club, competing with arguably some of the biggest clubs in Europe. It was just an amazing achievement. So I probably felt the same sense of pride as everybody else connected with the club at that time. To come through the ranks was a dream come true and to be managed by an idol was a surreal experience as well, so I’ll always be very, very grateful for what Blackburn Rovers did for me as a young kid and will always remember the memories that we had in 1994-95, but the four years prior to that were amazing as well. It was an amazing journey.
Did you get a sense when Kenny Dalglish and some high-profile players arrived that it was building up to something very special?
We obviously got promoted in the first year and then we finished fourth in our first year in the Premier League. The year after we finished second and went toe-to-toe with Manchester United, and we just felt as though we were on the brink of something. And then we took it on to the next stage the year after and managed to win it. Surreal moments and experiences, but no-one can ever take it away. The most disappointing thing is the fact that we didn’t carry on winning. Naively, I just thought we were going to continue challenging for the Premier League, but it’s a tough competition to win and we just took our foot off the gas. The manager left and then Alan Shearer left shortly after, so it was always going to be a tough ask. It was just a shame that we didn’t continue the progress that we’d made.
How good and tight-knit were the group of players and what was it like to be involved with such a group?
Extremely tight-knit. I think that was one of our strengths. I think we had a lot of good players, we obviously had the best striker in Europe and arguably the world at that time, but Alan was a humble guy who put the team before himself. Like every good number nine, he wanted to score as many goals as possible and we were just there to provide the opportunities and every single player got the best out of his team-mates. We had no selfish individuals, everybody put the team first. We had squad players who didn’t play as many games as others, but they were great team-mates as well. So that level of camaraderie and team spirit goes a long way and it’s something I feel very privileged to have played in a dressing room of that level of person and player.
What was Kenny Dalglish like to work under and did he bring the best out of each player?
He managed everyone in different ways. I think he managed me with a little bit of fear to be honest. When I let him down, he was tough on me and that’s what I needed. Ray Harford took a softer approach and they were a really good combination. And then you had Tony Parkes in there, he was a really important cog in the coaching department. Kenny was always there on training days, giving you little hints and tips, which were just incredible snippets of information. And then his team-talks and what he said at half-time and what he said after the game, how he managed the group, was just amazing.
What was Jack Walker like and how special was it for him that his dream of bringing the Premiership trophy to Blackburn became a reality?
Jack was such a humble, really nice guy. He was just a normal person, who would come in the dressing room, but would never lay down the law to any of the players. He trusted us and the manager 100% and he was fully supportive of what we were doing. So to win it for him, after the investment that he’d made, both in monetary value and also investing in people, was just an incredible experience for the fans, the families, the people who had worked at the football club for many years. It was just a life-changing journey and will live with everyone forever.
What was the day at Anfield and the celebrations afterwards like?
I had a mixed day actually. I was injured, because I had done my ACL in April, so I missed the last six games of the run-in, which was extremely frustrating for myself. I was so pleased that we’d managed to win it, but I think at the time on the pitch I felt that I didn’t want a medal, because I was full of emotion and the manager got a grip of me and said ‘don’t be so bloody stupid’. But that was how I felt at the time. I was highly emotional and there was probably a hint of jealousy as well, because I didn’t feel part of it, even though I’d played a lot of league games. Overall, they were amazing scenes. I was a Liverpool supporter as a kid, so to go there and win the Premier League title, managed by my idol when I was a young kid, it was unbelievable. It was perfect.
Does Blackburn Rovers still hold a special place in your heart and do you still keep track of the club’s results?
Absolutely. A couple of the directors are godparents of mine, when I go back I’ve always got fond memories and I always say to everyone that Blackburn Rovers was my club. I went to Leeds United and Leicester City, but Blackburn Rovers was my football club and I’ll never forget the journey that I went on and the people that I worked with and alongside in the 15 years I was there. I’m forever grateful because it’s an amazing football club.