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Champions: Nicky Marker

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

26 February 2020

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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.

Nicky Marker was next to take a trip down memory lane for our programme against Fulham to reflect on some magical times...

Nicky, if you can take us back to 1992, how did your move from Plymouth to Rovers come about?

I found out about it on the coach on the way back to Plymouth from Fulham. I was asked would I be interested and I said I would jump at the chance. It was a chance to play in the Premier League, so I jumped at the chance and that was it. It took a few days to sort out, because Keith Hill and Craig Skinner coming down this way, but in the end everything was sorted out and I moved my family up to Blackburn. You always try to play at the highest level possible and that was my chance to play in the Premier League, so it was great.

When a manager likes Kenny Dalglish comes calling, presumably you don’t need much persuading?

That was it. I didn’t even have to think about it. ‘Would you be prepared to … yes I’m there! I’ll pack my bags and walk it!’ It was my opportunity and to have a boss like Kenny, who was the best boss I ever had, it was really good. He was a top man.

What was it about Kenny that made him so special?

His knowledge about football was second to none. He just knew everything about the opposition and how to win games of football. And his man-management. I remember one time, when my daughter was ill, he said ‘family comes first’. And he was a man of his word, so to me, you couldn’t get any better than that.

In Ray Harford and Tony Parkes, how good was Kenny’s backroom team?

Ray did a lot of the work and the coaching on the training ground. He would set the team out in order to get the results. It was new to us, but it was something that other teams hadn’t come across and it was helping us to win games. And a lot of that was down to Ray and his knowledge. Tony was Blackburn through and through. Mr Blackburn Rovers. He would do anything for the club and do anything for you and was a great guy. He was just so enthusiastic that you wanted to go and train.

What was the group of players like to be involved with at that time?

It was brilliant. At most clubs, you usually get a good set of lads and you’re all pulling in the same direction, because you’re in the same team, but for me, coming up from the South West, there were stars there. Players I never thought I’d have the opportunity to play with. And to play with them, to be associated with them and to be on a par with them, was absolutely brilliant. I loved every moment of it. There were no big-time charlies at the club, everyone was the same, they’d do anything for you and you’d do anything for them. It was a really good and fun time to train and to be up there.

You played over 50 Premier League games for the club. What does that mean to you?

It’s great. It’s not like now where they’re making a fortune out of it, but I’ve got memories. I have to go into work every day now, but people still talk to me about it and I’ve got the memories. People can’t take that away from me. I played in the Premier League, I played in the Champions League, I’ve scored a Premier League goal. When I was 16 years old at Exeter City, if someone had come up and said to me ‘that’s going to be your career’, I would have said ‘thank you, brilliant, love it!’

That Premier League goal against Tottenham Hotspur … talk us through it?

I remember the ball coming in and I’ve headed it back across the goal and it’s gone in the net. I’ve then got all excited and my celebration was absolutely atrocious! But I’m pretty sure in that game, Alan Shearer scored his 100th Premier League goal, so all the headlines in the paper were all about Alan scoring his 100th Premier League and then a bit at the bottom ‘and also Nick Marker scored’. So my one goal and I was just a side-show of it all!

Alan Shearer probably over-shadowed a lot of people during his time at Rovers. What was he like to play with?

Alan was Alan. He used to score some goals and had it been anyone else you would have jumped on them and you would have been so amazed it would have been unbelievable, but when Alan scored you were just like ‘well done Al’ and you would walk back, because the goals he scored were amazing. Yes, he scored the ordinary centre-forward goals, but some of the goals he scored, no-one else could score them. But he could somehow. I don’t know how he managed to do it, but that’s why his record is still as good as it is, because he could score goals and no matter what teams did, they couldn’t stop him.

At the opposite end of the pitch, what were players like Colin Hendry and Henning Berg like to train and play with?

Brilliant. Colin was a lovely bloke anyway, but when you watched him train, he used to block things and you’d think ‘god, he’s lucky there’, but he did it so many times, it wasn’t luck. The way he used to chuck his body in the way of the ball to stop the ball from going in, that was just a desire from Colin and an art, and he was very good at it. He would do anything to stop the ball from going in the net. Henning was the same. He came across before the real foreign legion came across from all around the world. I was always told as a kid ‘the ball may pass, the man may pass, but both of them can’t’. Well, Henning took that really literally. He would stick his leg out to stop the ball and if not, he would be very strong and the man wouldn’t get through. He was very good at that and that was an art that he brought from Norway, where he was brought up to defend.

In terms of the title-winning season, you didn’t feature in any of the games, but what are your memories of it?

Unfortunately, I snapped my cruciate, so I was on rehab for most of the season and just trying to get myself fit. The biggest memory that I have got from it, because I was going into training every day, at Christmas time, it was so noisy and lively, the team was buzzing and the atmosphere around the place was brilliant. And then when it came to the end of February/March, closer to the end, it was getting quieter and quieter in the changing room. In training during the week, I’m not saying it was like a morgue, but you could feel the pressure on the lads just to get over that line. The games couldn’t come quick enough, for them to play, to get over the line. Saturday to Saturday became a long time and that’s the one thing I really remember. People say that there’s pressure at the bottom, but the biggest pressure in football is winning games and the lads handled it.

Were you at Anfield on the final day?

No, I wasn’t, because I didn’t want to jinx it. So I stayed away and I listened to it and thankfully they got over the line. Happy days!

What was Jack Walker like as a person and how nice was it for him to see the Premiership trophy come to Blackburn?

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.

Finally, do you still follow Rovers’ results and keep an eye out for the club’s fortunes?

Oh yes. To be fair, all of the clubs I played for I want them all to do well. I was absolutely gutted to see Blackburn when they started to fall away. It was very disappointing, especially after what Jack and Mr Coar and Kenny had done for that club and got it where it was. But like all things, hopefully it will come back again.

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