Today marks 20 years since Jack Walker, the man who oversaw our 1994-95 triumph with his foresight and finances, sadly passed away.
A local businessman with Blackburn Rovers in his blood, Uncle Jack took control of the club in 1991 with one aim – to bring pride and the ultimate prize in English football to the town.
And, on May 14th 1995, his dream became a reality, as the group of gifted players he had assembled, led by King Kenny, were crowned Premiership champions.
Now just over twenty five years on, those title-winning stars have all paid tribute to the man who would have appreciated the achievement more than most.
Here’s what some of them had to say about the late, great Uncle Jack...
“When I watched it back and the camera panned to him in the crowd, for someone who had put in so much effort and so much work and so much time into the club that he loved, if it wasn’t for him then none of it would have happened. So that’s how big an impact he had. For me, when I was there as a young lad, he was always such a nice, warm man. He would come down and speak in the changing room, he always had a kind word to say and you knew that it just meant so much to him. Like I said, when the camera panned to him in the crowd and you could see him getting upset – and enjoying it – it just topped it off really. I was so happy that we could do that for him.”
“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.”
“Jack was Blackburn Rovers and what he gave the town in terms of hope and investment in the football club, he did what he said he would do – he won the Premier League title for Blackburn Rovers. He always used to come into the dressing room before the game. Not that he would advise you about football in any capacity, but he would come in and wish you luck, and after the game he would come in and shake your hand, win lose or draw. It was a family club when I signed, all the Directors were local and Jack was the leader. There was a really good feeling about the whole place and it proved to be a good decision for me to move to Blackburn.”
“He was very good. He was very open, he would chat with the players, he had a good sense of humour, he liked football, he liked the players, he liked the coaches. He created a good atmosphere. He also made everybody feel welcome and trusted and confident, with the way he worked and the way he handled being the Owner.”
“He was a lovely fella and it was fantastic, because it all happened so quick. I don’t even think Jack could have dreamed that it would have happened and that they would have won the league. As I said, nothing would have been possible without the funding that Jack put in place and the stadium that he built, but I don’t even think Jack would have expected to win the Premier League in such a short space of time.”
“He would come into the changing room before and after games, and would speak to everyone. He wouldn’t just sit down with the big boys, he’d sit next to me and say ‘what do you think today Nick, are we going to win?’ He was just one of us. He wanted the best for Blackburn and he knew that getting the best in the changing room or in that team was the best for Blackburn and that’s all he really cared about.”
“Jack was a great guy. He put his money where his mouth is and invested in his hometown club and he got the benefits of that. Clearly, a team like Blackburn Rovers wouldn’t have been able to win the Premier League without Jack Walker.”
“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.”
“I think it meant the world to him. I don’t think you can put it into words to be honest. He used to come into the changing room after games and you could just see around the place. Everything clicked and if you’re going to win Premier League titles, that’s what you need to happen.”
“He was just a very humble man. You wouldn’t know that he’d done what he’d done, but it didn’t surprise you that he had managed to achieve what he had achieved in his lifetime because he worked so hard. He always made a point of coming over and saying hello to you and saying hello to your family. He was a real gentleman and without his investment, I don’t think the club would have got to where it got to.”
“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.”
“This was his football club. He wanted it to be at the top and he got it there. That was his dream and that’s what he told me. When I first spoke to him, when I came from Southampton, that’s what he wanted to do – he wanted to put Blackburn Rovers right at the very top – and he did that.”
“Jack had a dream and obviously had a lot of money as well, which helped, but he had a plan. He decided that Kenny was going to be his man and Kenny decided that Ray Harford was going to be integral to that team. He kept Tony Parkes here – he was here a long time before any of us and a long time after as well. So we had the coaching team there, we had the core and we had the nucleus of a good side.”