In the third of our five-part series charting Rovers’ 1992 Division Two promotion season 25 years on, Simon Garner tells ALEX JAMES about the changing times at Ewood.

AHEAD of the 1991-92 season Simon Garner could justifiably claim to know how things operated at Blackburn Rovers.

He had been there for 13 seasons, scored close to 200 goals, and endeared himself to the Ewood faithful.

No-one had scored more for the club than Garner, who had helped fire Rovers to three play-off campaigns in the previous four seasons scoring crucial goals in the process.

The then 32-year-old could have expected more of the same heading into pre-season in 1991 as Rovers looked to bounce back from finishing a lowly 19th the previous season.

But Jack Walker’s millions and the October appointment of ex-Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish changed everything.

“Kenny came in and started to buy all these big players,” said Garner.

“We probably started that season with 14 or 15 players and then Kenny came in and started signing players left, right and centre.

“It became clear that I wasn’t going to be first choice and then he brought Mike Newell in for over a million and I think Roy Wegerle came in for a similar amount.

“When you see those kind of players coming in you know it is going to be tough to get in the team.”

Dalglish arrived ahead of a home game against Plymouth Argyle and Garner, unsurprisingly, remembers it well.

“We couldn’t believe he was coming in, he was one of the biggest names in management,” Garner added.

“I scored two in his first game and I thought I would be certain to keep my place but then he dropped me!”

Garner made only 11 more starts under Dalglish that season, with a further six appearances coming off the bench, as Rovers put together a strong run of form before stumbling into the play-offs in the sixth and final spot before beating Derby County and Leicester City and sealing a Premier League spot.

“I scored a few goals and like to think I played my part,” said Garner of the second half of that campaign.

“I like to think that when I got my chance I took it and scored a few goals but Kenny was very honest with me and said I wasn’t going to be in his first choice team.

“But I didn’t sulk, I just wanted to play football.

“Kenny spent well and brought quality players in but despite that we had a really good camaraderie.

“Some people might think that we had a lot of big time Charlie’s but we didn’t, there was a great team spirit and some great characters.

“Jack Walker had put the money in and was paying to get them in to the Premier League.

“We stumbled over the line a little bit in the end, we had a bad run at the end of the season but we were always confident of getting through in the play-offs.

“We had a lot of good players and in the end it all clicked for us.

“There is no better way to get promoted than through the play-offs if you win them and it was a great day.”

And Garner, who ended that year with five goals, recalls the play-off final victory over the Foxes with fondness, despite not being involved.

“Kenny was brilliant with me, especially when it came to the play-off final,” Garner added.

“There was only space for so many players on the bench at Wembley who were not in the squad and he made sure that I was there. That was a great gesture and he didn’t need to do that.

“I think it was harder work watching that game than playing but it was a great day.”

Garner returned ahead of the 1992-93 season but found himself further down the striking pecking order after Alan Shearer arrived from Southampton for a then English-record £3.3m.

“In the summer Kenny brought in Alan Shearer and soon after that I left, I wasn’t going to get in ahead of him!” recalls Garner.

“Kenny said to me that I could stay and fight for my place, he didn’t force me out. But I just wanted to play football. I had a good chat with him and said I wanted to be playing games.

“So I went to West Brom who were in the third tier and we ended up going up through the play-offs.

“Then when I went on to Wycombe and we ended up going through the play-offs again so they were certainly kind to me.

“But for me to finish at Wembley with Blackburn was fantastic.”