Scott Anthony looks back on Blackburn Rovers' Premier League triumph

The long-term significance
Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn Rovers remain the only club outside the current Big Four to win the English title since the 1992 breakaway of the old First Division. Arsenal and Chelsea not only finished below Tottenham, Newcastle and Nottingham Forest, but also QPR, Southampton and Wimbledon.

Rovers’ time in the sun was to be short. Ray Harford took control of the first team at Ewood Park the following season and by the turn of the 21st century Blackburn, along with Forest, QPR and Wimbledon, had been relegated as the Premier League reduced in size. None of the Big Four has since finished outside of the top six.

Story of the season
Despite a faltering end to the campaign which saw them lose three of their last five games, Blackburn won their only League title when Manchester United failed to beat West Ham on the final day of the season. Fed from the wings by Stuart Ripley and Jason Wilcox, Rovers’ success rested on prolific strikers Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer (aka “The SAS”) who scored 49 of their 80 League goals. A mixture of journeymen such as Mark Atkins and Robbie Slater, and big money British buys – Sutton was a then record £5 million signing from Norwich – Blackburn’s side was of a kind that the 1995 Bosman ruling and expansion of the Champions League would soon render as antiquated as audio cassettes.

While finishing 11 points behind the top two, Nottingham Forest made an impressive return to the top flight. Stan Collymore and Bryan Roy provided the attacking presence that lifted Frank Clark’s team to third spot. Notable results included a 7-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday and a 2‑1 win at Old Trafford. The Forest-supporting chancellor Ken Clarke attracted press criticism for attending their game against QPR at the end of February rather than dealing with the crisis engulfing Barings bank.

At the bottom of the table George Burley’s Ipswich Town endured a miserable season, losing 29 times while conceding 93 goals. Their worst day came at Old Trafford in March with the home side’s £7m recruit Andy Cole scoring five times in a 9-0 win. A 3-2 loss to Newcastle on the final day made Crystal Palace the fourth club to be relegated as the Premier League shrank from 22 teams to 20. Nonetheless, Palace reached the semi-finals of both cup competitions, losing in the League Cup to eventual winners Liverpool and to Man Utd in an FA Cup replay. United’s League visit to Selhurst Park in January led to Eric Cantona being banned for nine months for attacking an abusive spectator.

For the record books
Alan Shearer of Blackburn was top scorer with 34 goals. Having made their worst-ever start to a season with no wins in their first 12 games, Everton ended it by winning the FA Cup, Paul Rideout’s goal beating Man Utd. In February 1995 Palace striker Chris Armstrong became the first top-flight player to fail a drugs test.

Same place today
Ten of the 22 clubs from the 1994-95 season are currently in the Premier League.

Moved furthest away
Leeds, Norwich and Southampton began this season in League One, Southampton with a ten point deduction as a result of entering administration. AFC Wimbledon play in the Blue Square Premier.

From WSC 276 February 2010

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