On This Day


Saturday, 30 March 2024

On this day in 1996, Garry Flitcroft was sent off on his debut against Everton at Ewood…

Despite the departures of David Batty and Mark Atkins in the 1995/96 season, Rovers were well-stocked for central midfielders with skipper Tim Sherwood, the impressive Lars Bohinen and tenacious Scot Billy McKinlay now in the squad. However, Rovers made a transfer deadline raid on relegation-bound Manchester City and took 23-year-old Garry Flitcroft for a bumper £3.5 million. 

The England Under 21s international immediately made his mark for Rovers… on Everton's Tony Grant. Within seconds Duncan Ferguson had joined the resulting fracas. Flitcroft set a club record for the fastest ever sending off by a debutant when Jeff Winter showed him red after just three minutes. 

“It took a while to get over that to be honest,” Flitcroft reflected. “I had just joined the club, I was desperate to make an impression and did no more than challenge for a loose ball. I used my elbows for leverage but the referee reckoned I had used them unfairly and off I went. It really floored me. I put myself about and enjoy tackling, but I am in no way a dirty player. I’ve had a few bookings, for being competitive, but that was a first for me and I don’t want any repeats.” 

Ah, famous last words. After decent early seasons for the club, Flitcroft suffered repeated injury problems which saw him absent for most of the disastrous 1998/99 and 1999/2000 campaigns. Graeme Souness then appointed him captain and his tenaciousness and leadership was a key part in the subsequent revival. 

Regrettably though, the recklessness which cost him on his debut in 1996 occasionally returned. Flitcroft missed the League Cup final in 2002 through suspension after a wild lunge in the semi-final against Sheffield Wednesday saw him receive another red.  


The above piece is taken from Issue 111 of 4,000 Holes, which provides a light-hearted review of the nineties – ORDER VIA THIS LINK.

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