Blackburn Betting

In November of 1875, old boys of the Shrewsbury School and Blackburn Grammar School me to form a football club that would play under Association Rules. They called themselves the Blackburn Rovers and established a piece of grazing land at Oozehead on Preston New Road as their home ground. The result of their very first match played at Church the following month was a 1-1 draw.

By 1878, the exploits of the Rovers were being covered by the local press. They had relocated from the cow pasture, first to Pleasington Cricket Ground and then to the East Lancashire Cricket Club’s ground at Alexandra Meadows in the centre of the town. By 1881, a private venue featuring a purpose-built stadium was secured at Leamington Road with a grandstand capacity of 700.

The very next year, Blackburn made a fine showing, winning their first Lancashire Senior Cup and making it all the way to the finals of the FA Cup. A second Senior Cup victory followed in 1883, providing the springboard for what would become one of the greatest feats in British football history to date—an FA Cup hat trick.

During the six-game run-up to the 1884 FA Cup Final, Blackburn gave up only a single goal. Nonetheless, they took the field at the Kennington Oval as a heavy underdog facing the famous Scottish side Queen’s Park F.C. It was a contest marred by disputes over offside rules, but the Rovers eventually prevailed by a score of 2-1, sending the Scots home empty handed.

A year later, the same two clubs would meet again in the Final, with Blackburn taking the day by a score of 2-0. Then, at the close of the 1885-86 season, when the Rovers made it to the last stage once again, West Bromwich Albion were waiting for them and the foes battled to a scoreless draw. In the replay held a week later, Blackburn found their stride and carried off their third consecutive FA Cup by a score of 2-0.

The 1880s were a decade of dominance for the Rovers. They won the Lancashire Senior Cup three more times in a row in 1884-86 and became a founding member of the new Football League in 1888. They finished fourth on the table in their first league season and then went on to capture their fourth FA Cup in 1889-90, defeating Sheffield by an impressive six goals to nil.

In the fall of 1890, the Rovers settled in on the banks of the River Darwen at Ewood Park, an all purpose sporting venue established in 1882. Ewood has served as Blackburn’s ground ever since, making it the oldest consecutive home of a Premier League team.

The first half of the 20th century would launch with a continuance of the achievements Blackburn had experienced since its founding. Six Lancashire Senior Cup wins between 1901 and 1911 got things started off right. Next came two League Division One Championship titles in the seasons of 1911-12 and 1913-14. And then crowning glory was realized in 1928 in the form of the Club’s fifth FA Cup, courtesy of Huddersfield Town, who bowed to the Rovers 3-1 at Wembley.

Success such as this, maintained for so long, was bound to hit a bump in the road eventually. It came in 1935-36, when the Rovers were relegated to Division Two. A second-tier championship in 1938-39 assured promotion, but World War II caused the suspension of League play. The Blackburn side that rejoined Division One in 1946-47 was not the same powerhouse, and a season later they slid back down to Division Two status.

The Rovers’ exile lasted for a decade. They returned to Division One in 1958-59 and got all the way to the FA Cup Final in 1960, before being denied by the Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0. Blackburn’s revival had come to an end. Relegation in 1966 launched a 26-year banishment to the lower levels, which included two stops in Division Three before a Division Two playoff win in 1991-92 would return them to the top flight.

The impetus for the Rovers’ rise was an influx of new money, thanks to new ownership by steelworks magnate Jack Walker (1926-2000). As the Premiership got under way in the early 1990s, Walker’s leadership had a dramatically positive effect on the fortunes of the team, not the least of which was the signing of centre forward Alan Shearer for an English record fee of £3.5 million.

In 1993-94, Blackburn finished right behind the League Champions, Manchester United. A year later, the tables were turned and the Rovers lifted their first-ever Premiership trophy, beating Man Utd for the title by a single point.

In the years that followed that singular triumph, Blackburn dropped back briefly to Division Two, but rebounded in 2001. Then, they captured the Football League Cup in 2002. Settling in at mid-table for the past decade, the Rovers have clung to their place in the Premiership and can be expected to do all it takes in the season ahead. And look for them to put up a fight in FA Cup competition—the one trophy they have always coveted above all others.

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