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Mimms: I shed a tear at Rovers exit
THE 2012/13 season produced many casualties at Blackburn Rovers, and none felt the impact of it more than Bobby Mimms.
Having helped Rovers to both promotion and then onwards to the Premier League title as a player, Mimms had returned to spend four-and-a-half years as a trusty and popular member of the club’s backroom staff.
Paul Robinson and Jake Kean, had been among those who consistently spoken of their appreciation for the work of Rovers’ goalkeeping coach.
But just as the campaign saw managers Steve Kean, Henning Berg and Michael Appleton depart Ewood Park, Mimms too was shown the door.
His exit came only two days after Christmas, with the 49-year-old dismissed along with Berg, assistant manager Eric Black and first-team coach Iain Brunskill.
“I was very disappointed to leave the club, I shed a tear to be honest,” Mimms admits.
“It is the first time that football has really bit me in the bum.
“Blackburn Rovers has been a big part of my life. I love the club and I’d love to come back at some point further down the line.
“That’s probably not possible at the moment, but hopefully it can happen at some point.”
The terms of Mimms’ exit mean he cannot speak about exactly what happened when he departed.
Speculation had leaked into the press for around a fortnight beforehand that his job was under threat, together with those of Black and Brunskill.
A change of backroom staff was one of the plans seriously considered to turn around poor form, before it was eventually decided that Berg should go too.
But Mimms still wishes Rovers well and was relieved to see former colleague Gary Bowyer rescue them from relegation in the final weeks of the season.
The son of former European Cup winner Ian Bowyer, it was his second spell as caretaker boss and looks set to earn him the job on a permanent basis.
“I’m glad the club is safe,” said Mimms, who remains in regular contact with Bowyer.
“It would have been hard to see them go down to the old Third Division.
“I’m pleased for Gary who did really well and came in and steadied the ship. I worked with Gary for four-and-a-half years and he managed the reserve team and did a good job with them.
“I did think he would become a manager to be honest, he’s had a very good grounding in the game obviously with his dad. He’s never flustered and I hope he does that opportunity now to lay claim to the job going forward.”
Mimms saw Kean take over in goal from former England international Robinson in his final weeks at the club.
It was a position Kean made his own before being missing the end of the seasn with injury.
He will return for pre-season but Robinson is expected to miss the start of the next campaign, having suffered a blood clot in his lung following an operation on a long-standing back problem.
Mimms, though, will be intrigued to watch the battle for the goalkeeper’s jersey when both are fully fit. Greg Sandomierski also impressed when stepping in at the end of the season – although his future is still unclear with his loan now expiring.
"It was difficult for Greg going to a foreign country but he took on board the work we did with him," Mimms said.
"I was at the Sheffield Wednesday game and I thought he did well in that game. I spoke to Gary and I think he was pleased with him.
"I always felt Jake would be a good keeper when I brought him in after he had been released by Derby.
"At that time we needed a young keeper to be number three, because we had Paul Robinson and Mark Bunn. Jake was exactly what we were looking for.
"He took everything in and has worked really hard, and he did that because he wanted to be number one.
"He’s developed into a very good Championship keeper and I think he can certainly go on and be a Premier League keeper.
"He’s played in the Premier League already of course in the last game of last season, at Chelsea when he was man of the match.
"I don’t think that was a flash in the pan, I think he can do that week in week out.
"There hasn’t really been a fair fight for the shirt between Jake and Paul yet.
"When Jake came into the team Paul hadn’t been 100 per cent fit for a while, he’d been struggling with the back injury and playing on with it because he wanted to help the club. No-one loves the club more than Paul.
"I saw the news about Paul’s blood clot on the television like most people and of course you fear the worst when you hear about something like that.
"But I went round to see him after that and I think he’s all right.
"It will be a slow recovery because he has to follow the medical advice, so I don’t think he will be competing for a place from the start of pre-season.
"There hasn’t been a point yet when the battle has been on between the two of them, but it will happen at some point and it will be a good battle."
Mimms hopes Rovers can soon find a way of turning around their fortunes and emulating promotion to the top flight in 1992, when he was the club’s regular keeper under manager Kenny Dalglish.
"It was quite a strange season because we had a difficult start and unfortunately it cost Don Mackay his job," he recalled.
"Tony Parkes came in and did well, and then Kenny came in and every Thursday it seemed like another new player came through the door.
"We did really well to get to top of the league but then we almost blew it and missed out on the play-offs.
"Even in the play-offs we went 2-0 down after 15 minutes in the first leg at home to Derby but turned it round to win 4-2 and then got through on away goals.
"Before the final at Wembley I’d never seen such a nervous bunch of players in the dressing room.
"It was normally a very noisy dressing room, but it was just so quiet and nervy.
"But we went out and got the job done against Leicester.
"Kenny did try to bring some players in for the next level but he had to go back to the other players at the end of that season when we started to struggle.
"Sometimes you need the players for that level, even if they might not be the ones for the Premier League and you might have to strengthen the squad if you get there.
"You look at Cardiff and they didn’t really have any big stars apart from Craig Bellamy, who was a different situation because it was the place where he was from.
"To get promoted you need men. Blackburn have had a lot of young players and they have done well, but you do need men to get promoted.
"You need a strong mentality and sometimes you have to grind games out even if it’s not pretty, which is something Cardiff did at times.
Now Mimms is seeking employment elsewhere after a very brief spell in Malta helping out Brunskill, who had been in charge of Floriana but will soon start a job in a coaches’ development role with the FA.
But the affection shown to him by Rovers fans over the years is one of the reasons why he would relish a return to Ewood one day.
That affection was something that was apparent to him when he had to play second fiddle to Tim Flowers as Rovers won the Premier League title in 1995, making only four league appearances that season.
"Winning the league was bittersweet," he said.
"Tim Flowers was brought in and I wasn’t number one, which was difficult.
"But Kenny was great with me, he handled the situation really well and the fans were really good to me too.
"I do understand the feelings of the fans at the moment because I think it has been a very confusing situation for them over the last couple of years, and of course dropping out of the Premier League was a bitter blow for everyone "I think the owners will have learned from the last two years, or that’s certainly my hope.
"The fans have always have been great to me, when I came back to the club a lot of people said kind things to me.
"That’s why I would like to come back some day, because people do seem to appreciate me.
"I’m really thankful for that."
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