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.
Richard Brown was next to take a trip down memory lane for our programme against Birmingham City to reflect on some magical times...
Richard, how did your move to Rovers come about?
Weirdly enough, I was playing for Kettering Town at the time, but I was on loan at Cheltenham and I played three of my best games consecutively ever and Rovers came to watch a 20-year-old. I was 23 at the time and they took me instead of him. So my career progressed, but then I was curtailed by quite a few injuries and come the 1994-95 season I was getting released, but the club said that they’d look after me until I got myself fit. So in my first training session back after 16 months, I pulled my thigh muscle. So that took me into October, when I was going to play my first Reserve game – my first game of football in 18 months – and in the training session in the morning, prior to the game in the evening, I tore my medial ligament. To be fair to the club, they really looked after me. When it got to March, they said ‘we can’t keep paying you, we’re going to release you and Stockport want you to go and play for them’. So I went to Stockport, played one game, got injured again, so they said ‘we can’t continue your contract, we’ll let you go back to Blackburn to do your rehab there’. By this time, I’d watched virtually every Rovers game and in every game I’d watched, Rovers had never got beat. I was really close friends with Jason Wilcox, so Kenny Dalglish asked Jason to ask me whether I’d come to the game at Anfield, because apparently I’d become his lucky mascot! And then the rest is history.
With all of the injuries and setbacks you had, how frustrating and mentally tough was it for you?
Absolutely. I’d pretty much retired from the professional game at 27. It’s always great in hindsight, but I can remember Ray Harford saying to me that season ‘listen, we’re going to release you, just take the insurance money because you’ve had too many injuries and how do you know your body is going to last?’ and I thought, I’m only 26-27, I’ve got to keep going. So I tried to get myself fit and keep playing.
What was Ray Harford like to work with?
He taught me the game. He was a great man, a great personality and I loved him to bits. Especially when I compare him to some other coaches, who weren’t for me, but Ray is the person who I owe a lot to, purely because I learnt the game through him as a kid. Kenny Dalglish was very much a man manager, very tactically astute and tactically aware, but Ray was my man if I’m being honest.
Was the move from playing non-league football to joining a club like Rovers a big opportunity for you?
It was a massive opportunity for me and one where I actually ended up earning less money. I wanted to be a pro and I wanted to have a legacy of actually playing. Incidentally, I went on loan to Maidstone United for a month and that’s where I made my professional debut. And then when Kenny came in, I was already playing in the first team and he continued to play me in the first team, before we got promoted.
You played a number of games during the 1991-92 promotion season. What was that like?
Fantastic. The camaraderie of the lads was magnificent and I think that’s what got us through more than anything.
Was it a really special group to be a part of?
It was. There were no big-timers, everyone just mucked in together. There was no animosity around the place and it was just a really, really good time to be at the club.
Even though you didn’t feature in the 1994-95 season, what was it like to be in and around the club, to watch the game and to ultimately see Rovers crowned champions?
Interesting enough, when all the players were brought in, again, there was no big-timers. Kenny kept a lid on everything. No-one could step out of line, even the big players. No-one stepped out of line, It was a real team effort. Alan (Shearer) got all of the plaudits, because he was a top striker, but in the main there were no big issues.
What was that historic day at Anfield like?
It was weird because everybody was nervous, all day. And then when the game kicked off, there were still a lot of nerves on display, but they always believed. The weirdest thing, for me, is that everybody always believed that they’d win it. Whether it be winning the game or United losing it. I can’t explain the feeling, but it just felt like our name was on it!
How do you look back on your time at the club now
?Really fondly. You don’t miss the money, you miss the camaraderie, the day-to-day, the stories, the fun, the banter, the togetherness of the players.
And are you still involved in the game now?
Yes. I was at Manchester City for 10 years and then I left to become an intermediary, which I’ve done for the past 18 months.