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Champions: Mark Atkins

We're marking the 25-year anniversary of our club's greatest ever season

10 September 2019

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.

Mark Atkins was next to take a trip down memory lane for our programme against Cardiff City to reflect on some magical times...

Mark, can you quite believe that it's 25 years since the historic 1994-95 title-winning season? 

No, not really. It sounds a long time, but it only feels like you can remember everything about that season, especially the final few weeks, which were a bit hair-raising at times, wondering whether we were going to get over the line. But it was a fantastic season and it doesn't seem like it was 25 years ago! 

How did your move to Rovers initially come about? 

It came out of the blue really. At the end of the season, I was out of contract at Scunthorpe in 1988 and I was all set to sign for Barnsley, for my old manager Allan Clarke, and when I got home from that meeting, my phone rang and it was Tony Parkes asking me to go to Blackburn. I went for talks and I signed on the day that I went, because it was a great opportunity for me and I never looked back. 

In general, how much did you enjoy your time at the club? 

I loved my time. I had seven or eight great seasons. The first few seasons we did really well, getting in the play-offs. We should have got promotion in the first year, when we got beat by Crystal Palace in the play-off final, after being 3-1 up after the first leg. We should have seen that through, but it never happened for us. It just took that extra bit of momentum with Jack Walker being on board and bringing Kenny Dalglish and Ray Harford in, and the signings that they made pushed us forward. 

As you said, there was a lot of investment and a lot of new players brought in, but how nice was it for you to play such a big part in the title-winning season, alongside Tim Sherwood in midfield? 

It was fantastic. It got to a stage when Jack was putting the money in and Kenny was signing players, and every Thursday you would look around and there'd be another £1m player in the ranks, but he was very good to me. He was very honest with me and if I did my job and did what he wanted me to do, I stayed in the team, and that's what happened. So it was great to be part of that winning team and the squad altogether, because we had a great squad, a great team spirit and those are memories that you'll never forget. 

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You popped up with quite a few important goals also. How pleasing was that? 

I always had an eye for a goal. I always used to practice finishing a lot, especially after training. There were a few important goals in there, which was good. When you have Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, you're not really expected to get that many, you just needed to chip in every now and again. 

Just how good were Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton as a strike force? 

They were just outstanding. They were the best partnership going at that time. They worked off each other. Chris Sutton did all the running, Alan did all the hard work inside the box, getting amongst people, and as a partnership they just linked so well together. To be fair, you can't think of many opportunities that either of them missed that season. Every time they had a chance, it was usually in the back of the net. 

How nice was it for Jack Walker to realise his dream and bring glory to the town? 

Jack was a fan. When I signed, I met him fairly early on in my time at the club in the late 80s and he was a big fan of the club. He used to sponsor games and things like that. And when he took over, you knew that he was going to put everything into there, because he just loved the football club and loved the town. It was great for him, when we won the league, for him to be there and lift the trophy on the pitch at Anfield. It was just fantastic for him and it was great for all the fans, because they really got behind us that season and really pushed us on when we needed it. I lived in Darwen at the time and it was just a great place to live. 

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Were the celebrations good too? 

Yeah, we had a good couple of weeks! It went on for quite a while. I can't remember much about the first couple of nights, but I kept going! You still keep in touch with the club and attend games on a regular basis, working for BBC Radio Lancashire.

How pleased are you to see the club doing well under Tony Mowbray? 

It's nice to see them being in a better place than they were three or four years ago. They seem to have turned it round. Tony Mowbray has done a great job, getting the team to where it is now. It's always nice to come back and working for the local radio has been good, being able to see a lot of games and a lot of people who still work for the club, and the fans. The club is going in the right direction now, they've got a good squad of players and I think they've got a good chance of doing something this season, if they can get a bit of luck behind them.


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