Blackburn Rovers’ senior management team from the historic 1994-95 Premiership title-winning era were welcomed back to Ewood Park, where they were inducted into the Blackburn Rovers Hall of Fame, in association with Blackburn Rovers Former Players Association.
The Walker family joined Sir Kenny Dalglish MBE, Tony Parkes and Tim Sherwood in attending the special Hall of Fame dinner, which welcomed 350 guests to raise funds for the Blackburn Rovers Former Players Association to support former players and their families in times of need.
The second annual event saw the following Rovers legends inducted and honoured:
- Jack Walker (posthumous award)
- Ray Harford (posthumous award)
- Tim Sherwood
- Tony Parkes
- Sir Kenny Dalglish
It was a very special evening, where guests were guided through a tour of the history behind Jack Walker’s involvement with Blackburn Rovers, from dedicated fan to Owner, which ultimately led to Kenny Dalglish joining as manager and building the foundations that resulted in the Premiership title triumph 25 years ago.
The strength and dedication of the backroom coaching staff over many years during this era was abundant, as guests heard stories about the relationship between the manager and his assistant Ray Harford and ‘Mr Blackburn Rovers’ himself, Tony Parkes.
The guests were delighted to see former captain Tim Sherwood parade the Premiership trophy into the Premier Suite and were entertained by many tales from the dressing room!
Former referee Kevin Lynch hosted the event and BBC journalist Andy Bayes interviewed the inductees/representatives, before they were anointed into the Hall of Fame and presented with a commemorative trophy and framed biography to mark the occasion.
The event included a three-course meal provided by Rovers Events, plus fundraising activities including an auction featuring kindly donated football memorabilia and special signed copies of the inductees’ biographies.
The guests also contributed, along with match funding from Blackburn Rovers and Blackburn Rovers Former Players Association, in raising in the region of £800 for Sporting Memories Foundation, who have been a fantastic support for Tony Parkes and his family following his recent Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.
Ken Beamish, chairman of the BRFPA committee, said: “What a wonderful evening! It has been quite humbling to receive such great support over recent years to our Former Players Association events and to have a full house at our second Hall of Fame dinner is something special.
“These dinners really are becoming something that every Blackburn Rovers fan wants to attend. Kenny Dalglish and Tim Sherwood entertained us royally, but the evening belonged to Tony Parkes and I am absolutely delighted that we raised almost £800 for Sporting Memories, who do such a wonderful job in helping Alzheimer’s sufferers. We also raised over £10,000 for our own charity for former players, so a huge thank you to everyone who attended and helped to make this possible.”
Rovers chief executive Steve Waggott commented: “It was always going to take something special to compare to last year’s inaugural Hall of Fame dinner, which was an overwhelming success, but last week’s event was equally enjoyable and another great triumph for all involved.
“It was fantastic to see the rich history of the club being celebrated and a fitting tribute to Rovers’ Premiership title win 25 years ago. Not many clubs could compete with the calibre of the inductees and special guests in attendance, and we wait in expectation for next year’s event.”
Former Rovers manager Sir Kenny Dalglish said: “Everything that happened at this football club wouldn’t have been possible if it hadn’t been for Uncle Jack!
“It’s always great to come back. I had a fantastic time here. It was like a Cinderella story for everybody and that includes the players. We had a fantastic time. Everybody made a contribution because it was such a good dressing room.”
Title-winning captain Tim Sherwood added: “It’s a great honour for me to be inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside some of the greats of the 1994-95 season.
“I’m just thankful that Kenny (Dalglish) decided that I was going to be one of his players to bring into the club. To be part of it all was something I’ll never forget. Blackburn Rovers is my club, a family club and where I had my biggest success.”
Paul Harford, son of the late Ray Harford, said:“When dad first drove to Blackburn and back down to London again – he thought he’d made the biggest mistake of his life. It turned out to be the best decision he ever made!
“He loved working with Kenny (Dalglish), Tony (Parkes) and all of the players. As a family, we are truly honoured for dad’s time at the club to be recognised like this.”
Richard Matthewman, former vice-chairman of Blackburn Rovers and Jack Walker’s son-in-law, said:“I remember driving Jack (Walker) back to the airport through the snow after a 3-1 defeat at Hull in December 1990 and he said ‘I need to do something about this.’
“Jack’s favourite times during that period were spent with the players and staff before and after matches. He’d love nothing more than spending time with them, win, lose or draw. Our family have travelled a long way to be here tonight – we were delighted to do so on such a special night.”
Former Rovers chairman Rob Coar commented: “I remember Tim (Sherwood) and the players urging Jack (Walker) to go and celebrate on the pitch at Anfield in 1995. He didn’t make his way from the Directors Box internally, he was helped down through the main stand!
“To serve as chairman during that period of time was the busiest and the most rewarding time of my 40 years on the board.”
Former Rovers player, coach and caretaker manager Tony Parkes added: “It doesn’t seem like it’s nearly 50 years since I moved to Blackburn. I don’t know where the time has gone!
“Kenny (Dalglish) and Ray (Harford) were players’ people – they loved working with the lads. They were great times. Blackburn Rovers is my football club – and it always will be.”
Blackburn Rovers Former Players Association was formed in 2008 with the aim of providing support to former players and their families and have so far helped a number of former players in need in both financial and practical ways.
Previous events over the past 10 years include Champion Dinners such as the 20th anniversary of the Premiership title win and the inaugural Hall of Fame dinner in 2019.
The headline sponsor was once again Peter Street, on behalf of East Lancashire Hospice. The Cardboard Box Company, who designed and produced the staging/event materials, and Peter Jackson the Jeweller, long-standing sponsor of the club, who provided the trophies that were presented to each inductee, also sponsored the event.
For more information about the association and to subscribe to be first to hear about future events, please visit www.brfpa.co.uk