Thursday, 26 January 2023

Thank you very much to Ryan Jacobs, a Sports Journalism student at UCLAN in Preston who's sent in this article telling us about how he’s found watching his first Rovers games this season, even if he's not fully converted yet. You can follow Ryan on Twitter.

In September of last year, I moved from Shropshire to go to the University of Central Lancashire to study sports journalism. As my local club was Shrewsbury Town, the closest I got to watching lower-league football was through them. Having seen clips of iconic Championship moments over the years with famous last-minute goals and wonder strikes from a distance, the Championship was always something I wanted to experience in person. 

After speaking to a few people and getting to know Matt Grimshaw, he introduced me to Blackburn Rovers. Telling me about previous seasons and getting close to the playoffs, there is always a buzz around the new season, and with a new manager, things looked to be positive for the club. The first match I got the opportunity to go to would be the three-nil win over Rotherham, with the superstar Ben Brereton-Diaz scoring two while Sammie Szmodics scored the third. I could not have asked for a better first game to go to than that. 

Hearing so much about Diaz and how he is such a special player for Blackburn, I finally got to see why. His finishing ability is superb, but his ability to go quiet in a game and then produce that moment of magic is something few players can do. He reminded me of Eden Hazard when he was at Chelsea in terms of the effect he can have on a game and how vital he is to this Rovers team. If he leaves at the end of the season for free, it will be such a significant loss for the club, and he will be a ridiculously hard player to replace.

The next opportunity to visit Ewood came with the home win against Huddersfield; not the same as the big three-goal win against Rotherham but a competitive game of football, albeit a scrappy affair. Dominating from the moment Rovers kicked off till the full-time whistle, the Blackburn fans were incredible; singing songs about how much they hate Burnley and having to stand up every five minutes was something I thought was great. The home atmosphere at Ewood Park is incredible when the team needs them most, the fans are always there to pick them up, and in such a cagey affair against Huddersfield, it was required then. Having an incredible view to see Harry Pickering play an outrageous ball to put Diaz through on goal with work still to do, you just knew that Ben Brereton-Diaz was going to finish it, he duly did.

As well as this, I had the opportunity to go to the Under 21s game in the World Cup break when Rovers took on Porto B and yet again, the turnout from the community was something to be applauded, selling a significant number of tickets and getting to see a fantastic game of football, Blackburn have an exceptional group of young players coming through.

What I can take from these experiences at Blackburn and its fans has been exceptional. The results may not always go how they should, but the fans are always there and in their numbers. I have become a fan of the club and hope that Tomasson can get Blackburn promoted this season, although it will be a very tough task considering just how tight this league is this season.


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