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.
Tony Gale was next to take a trip down memory lane for our programme against Millwall to reflect on some magical times...
Tony, can you quite believe that it’s 25 years since that historic 1994-95 title-winning season?
No, not really. I’m 60 in November, but I was the oldest player in the squad. I was signed for my experience. Kenny Dalglish and Ray Harford signed me at the end of my contract at West Ham. So I was the experienced one in a squad, which despite their tender ages, they were an experienced bunch of lads as well.
Did you enjoy that role, being the older head and more experienced member of the group?
Yes, I did. My room partner at the time was Chris Sutton. He’d just signed from Norwich and I’d just signed from West Ham. So the oldest player in the side was put with one of the youngest. And I enjoyed that role a lot.
When you arrived, did you get a sense that something special was happening at the club?
Yes, I did. I knew that they went close the season before. When I signed, I did mention to the then Chairman, Robert Coar, that I’ve got a feeling that this is going to be your year. Or our year, because I’d just signed. Everybody wanted to under play it, but I had a look around that squad and I really thought it could be our year.
What was it like being involved and playing a part in that season?
I know it’s a long time ago, but it seemed to fly past. As the season went on, the pressure got more and more. We were helped by the fact that it was the season that Eric Cantona jumped into the crowd at Crystal Palace and got suspended for a period of time. Everybody goes on about maybe Manchester United threw it away, but I think that’s harsh on us, because we lost twice against Manchester United and we were the victims of bad decisions. Tim Sherwood equalised against Man United at Old Trafford and that was disallowed. And we had Henning Berg sent off when we were 2-1 up at Ewood Park and we lost 4-2. So, in effect, that’s a 12-point swing. So we didn’t really get the credit that we deserved.
In terms of your career, how highly does that rank in the list of achievements?
In the list of achievements, it’s at the top obviously. I’d gone close once at West Ham, in 1985-86. We finished third, behind Liverpool and Everton. In terms of winning things, it’s right at the very top.
What was the togetherness and team spirit like within the group and did that play as big a part in the success as the quality within the squad?
The quality was certainly there within the group, but there was some good professionals within that squad, who didn’t really get a lot of credit for what they did that season. The likes of Mark Atkins, Robbie Slater, Bobby Mimms, Paul Warhurst, David Batty – they didn’t get a lot of the credit and I think they deserved a lot more than what people gave them.
Do you still keep in touch or try to keep in touch with some of those players today?
I see a few of them out and about on the circuit. The ones I’ve probably kept in touch with the most are Chris Sutton and Ian Pearce. But I see all the other boys out on the circuit. I play a game of golf every now and again. Tim Sherwood I’ve seen quite a bit. It’s not really like that in football, but when we do meet up, it feels like it was just yesterday and we’ve obviously got a lot of great memories.
What was Kenny Dalglish like to work under?
He was brilliant. I think he was the best player of his generation, so when Kenny said anything to do with football, everybody stood up and listened. That’s when you could understand him of course, because he was very hard to understand with that Scottish accent of his! He had a very soft voice and it was Glaswegian as well, so when people ask me about his team talks, I say ‘they were great, but I didn’t understand anything!’
For Jack Walker and the people of Blackburn, how special was it for the town to be crowned champions of England?
I’ve never known an Owner be so proud of a team, because Jack Walker was Blackburn through and through. He was Mr Blackburn. Jack had a great affiliation with the manager and all the players, but he knew everyone within the ground and around the ground as well. I think Jack enjoyed that league title experience more than anyone. And more than anyone, he deserves to be remembered for it.
Do you still look back at your time at Rovers fondly and keep an eye out for our results?
Yes, I do. I don’t tend to get up there that often, because working for Sky I tend to get a lot of the southern games, so if I get to watch Blackburn, it’s generally when they’re playing one of the London teams, so I haven’t done a lot of them in the last few seasons. There’s not a lot of people who are still at the club from my days, although we did attend a 20th anniversary function and it was great to see the boys then and all the staff in and around it, so I can’t wait until they do another one!