Comment: The aimlessly stumbling chicken that said it all about the state of Blackburn Rovers (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Comment: The aimlessly stumbling chicken that said it all about the state of Blackburn Rovers
IT was the most unwitting protester of the night, but somehow the chicken that darted on to the Ewood Park pitch draped in a Blackburn Rovers flag said it all.
No further words were required. It had come to this. Eighteen months of frustration under Venky’s rule summed up as the chicken stumbled around aimlessly, clearly bewildered and unsure of its surroundings.
Fans cheered that symbolic gesture, after the chicken had been smuggled into the ground and released from the Darwen End early in last night’s match against Wigan Athletic, but by the end any humour remaining had gone.
Only anger was left, at both Venky’s and manager Steve Kean, as relegation from the Premier League was confirmed.
For supporters, this is their club and their town, and with top flight status went part of Blackburn’s identity, following a 1-0 defeat. Eleven years in the top flight had come crashing down in such unnecessary fashion.
Rarely has the gulf between fans and club felt quite so wide.
The pre-match warm-up was greeted by the drone of a plane circling overhead with the message ‘In Venky’s We Trust – Burnley SU’.
The plane had been hired by Burnley fans, 21 years after Rovers supporters had sent a mocking message to Turf Moor via the same method when their rivals missed out on promotion in the Fourth Division play-offs.
Chants of ‘Kean out, Venky’s out’ came before kick-off from the home supporters in the Darwen End, who also held banners in protest.
The chants against Kean intensified as the match started, while many rose to their feet as fans sang ‘Stand up if you hate Venky’s’. Kean stood unmoved on the touchline.
Only six minutes had elapsed when the chicken made its entry – the second time such a protest had taken place this season.
Swift work was required from Yakubu and Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi to remove it from the pitch.
“We’re only here for the chicken,” fans sung, before chanting the name of Jack Walker.
There was clear frustration from the stands as Rovers struggled to keep possession, with chants for Sam Allardyce – controversially sacked as manager soon after the arrival of Venky’s – as well as sidelined Michel Salgado and the now departed Ryan Nelsen. Frozen out, Salgado had decided not to attend the game.
The half time whistle brought boos of dissatisfaction, while the start of the second half was greeted by a supporter running on to the pitch from the Darwen End and throwing his season ticket in the direction of the dug-outs.
“We want our Rovers back,” fans sung.
The protests against Venky’s and Kean did not relent, and by the hour mark most of the 26,144 crowd was joining in.
Fans got behind their team late on, as they sought the winner that would have kept their faint survival hopes alive.
But it did not come and the ‘Kean out’ chants returned before Antolin Alcaraz’s 86th-minute goal effectively sealed Rovers’ fate.
Many just got up and left, others continued their protests against Kean and Venky’s.
As relegation was confirmed at the final whistle, some threw tennis balls on to the pitch bearing the words ‘Kean out’ and around 30 protesters rushed on to the playing surface and towards the Rovers boss.
Kean lingered for a few seconds, ignoring the advice of security, before disappearing down the tunnel.
Many had seen this coming. One of the worst nights in the club’s recent history had arrived.
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