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Parkes life and time at Ewood
AS Tim Sherwood lifted the Premier League trophy at Anfield, ‘Mr Blackburn Rovers’ Tony Parkes could not help but feel he was in a fairytale.
The man who spent more than 30 years at Ewood, enjoying 392 appearances as a player, six stints as caretaker manager and spells as assistant manager and on the coaching staff, had seen the club transformed.
Now, more than a decade on, he reflects on Rovers’ drop into the Championship from afar and fears the end of a ‘golden era’ in the club’s history – but insists the memories will never be taken away.
Promotion into the Premier League, a Worthington Cup final win and some incredible personal memories will always be fondly remembered by Parkes – but none of them will top that afternoon at Anfield in May 1995, when Rovers were crowned Premier League champions.
He said: “I remember the day as though it was yesterday. It was a fantastic ending to the season. We were behind, we were in front.
“The fans didn’t know when Redknapp scored that free kick that we were okay, the fans thought we had lost the Championship.
“The Manchester United game had finished at Upton Park, they battered them but only drew. Kenny Dalglish got out of the dug out and him and Ray Harford were dancing on the side of the pitch and the game was still going on.
“It was like a fairytale. Jack’s era was a fairytale. You had to pinch yourselves sometimes and ask is this the same club.
“We have had some good times. We have always been an up and down club. The first season I came in the 1970s we got relegated. Then three years later we came back.
“The club has been badly run now. Alright you might not have liked Sam’s football but do you like Blackburn’s football now they have been relegated?”
Parkes had been through darker days during his Rovers career, suffering relegation in the 1970s and play-off defeats.
It was all a far cry from that day when Rovers were crowned England’s champions and Parkes no one was going to ruin it – no matter how hard they tried.
“We got into the Premier League and for three seasons we finished fourth, second and then we won it. We were pushing Manchester United all the time,” he said.
“When we actually won the Premier League, people were saying we bought the Championship but Im not accepting that – any more than any other team buys success.
“They were jealous. There was a lot of jealousy around because we were a small town club and small town clubs are not supposed to win the Premier League.
“People started to say we were a long ball team and knocked us for that. Fine, we were a long ball if that means getting crosses in to Alan Shearer. Who wouldn’t do that?
“If long balls were getting crosses in for Shearer to score then we were a long ball team. There was jealousy from within the game and it didn’t go down very well with us.
“We got on with it and we had a great day ay Liverpool. It was a fantastic day.”