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.
Colin Hendry was next to take a trip down memory lane for our programme against Sheffield Wednesday to reflect on some magical times...
Colin, does it seem like only yesterday or does it feel like 25 years since Rovers lifted the Premiership crown?
I’ll be honest, it doesn’t feel like 25 years. A lot of things that happened that season are still very vivid in my mind and certain things stick out in the period leading up to winning it. I think the most defining statistic of the lot was that we improved every season from the beginning of the Premiership. We were accused of buying it, but I dispute that wholeheartedly. In Jack Walker’s wisdom, he invested, he paid the big bucks, but he sold the players and invested it back into the club and the stadium, gave the club back to the fans with the Premiership title and it’s a club that the fans and the people of Blackburn are extremely proud of.
What was the secret to Rovers’ success?
It was a proper 4-4-2 and there were no hiding places. Everybody knew their jobs, the full-backs supported the wingers – and to be fair, Stuart Ripley and Jason Wilcox supported the full-backs by getting back in front as a shield for the two full-backs and making life difficult for the teams we were playing against – and generally, we were a really, really hard team to beat. We were well supported and aided in several positions. Mark Atkins played a hell of a part in it and then you’ve got other players like Graeme Le Saux and Henning Berg. I’ve got to say that without the likes of Alan Shearer we probably wouldn’t have won it, but everybody did their bit. And that also includes the people in the background, like Colin Lancaster, the masseur, and Sylvia Berry, who worked in the kitchen. It was a real family-run club and to be fair to Kenny Dalglish and Ray Harford, the focal point for the club during that period was keeping everybody’s feet on the ground.
How did you find Kenny Dalglish to work under?
He was very uncomplicated, he was ably assisted by probably the best coach I had in my career in Ray Harford, he was an absolute gentleman, he could mix it with you if he had to and he let you know in no uncertain terms if you weren’t producing what was expected from the ability from that said individual. He pushed every player to the limit of their ability.
They were a great partnership and one of the major reasons why Rovers won the Premiership. Were there any defining moments for you throughout the season?
Yes, there was two games back-to-back for me. We played Everton on the Saturday, we were 2-0 up within 15 minutes – Shearer and Sutton – we conceded before half-time, we won the game 2-1, but it was like the Alamo! Then on the Tuesday night, we went to QPR and won 1-0 – Sutton scored – and it was a similar game. But the week prior to that, I played in Russia for Scotland and against QPR at half-time, Ray Harford said to me ‘you need to get your act together and you need to play better’ and I remember saying to him ‘I’ve got nothing in the tank’ because it was on the back of the Everton game and also drawing 0-0 in Russia, which was a big point for us qualifying for Euro 96.
What was it like to finally get over the line and experience that final day drama at Anfield?
Manchester United could so easily have scored. Ludek Miklosko was given the man-of-the-match. When I talk about the Alamo at Goodison Park, when we won 2-1, it was very similar when Man United went to Upton Park. If they had won, they would have won the league. It was that close. Really, it was taken out of our hands completely by Jamie Redknapp and John Barnes scoring. I think the United fans thought Liverpool would just sit back and let Blackburn Rovers win the league at Anfield because Kenny was there, but it couldn’t have gone any more wrong for Blackburn, other than United not winning at Upton Park. It was absolutely surreal! It was ridiculous! We were trying to work out what was going on by looking across to the players on the sideline and then the fans started celebrating. We did it, we crept over the line.
For the club and the fans and for Jack Walker in particular, how special was it for him to realise that dream and bring the Premiership trophy back to Blackburn?
As I understand it as a player at that time, there a five-year plan, when we got promoted, to get into Europe. Nothing more than to get into Europe. So within three years, to win it, was beyond expectation. We won the Premiership on the Sunday, we then had 30,000 at Ewood Park on the Monday and from the stadium we went into the centre of Blackburn, before ending up in The Lord Nelson in Langho and as we were getting driven through Blackburn it was crazy! People wanted a piece of you and I remember one lad saying to me ‘if I die tomorrow, I’ll die the happiest man ever’ because never in his lifetime did he think Blackburn Rovers would win the Premiership. And I think a lot of people still stand by that.
Finally, out of everything you achieved in your career, where does the title win with Rovers rank?
I do a lot of after dinner speaking and when I’m in England, I always say that the greatest honour I’ve got is winning the Premiership and when I’m in Scotland I say it’s winning the treble and captaining my country at a World Cup. But really, you’ve got to say that winning the Premiership is the pinnacle. It’s unbeatable. Especially when you look now at the calibre of person and player you need in your team to win it.
And when you talk about the characters needed, did we have a squad full of them?
From the goalie, Tim Flowers, Graeme Le Saux was so strong-minded, a bit like myself, characters in Stuart Ripley and Jason Wilcox, Tim Sherwood was a big plus for us because he was the captain and he really did put extra shifts in in the middle of the park at times, aided by Mark Atkins, who was underrated but very much an achiever and then you look at the four boys up front. Everybody did their bit.