FORMER Blackburn Rovers legend Fred Pickering died at the weekend, age 78.

Bygones looks back at the history of a player who was one of the British game’s most expensive footballers when he signed for Everton in 1964.

Mr Pickering was born in Blackburn on January 19, 1941, and went to St Mary’s RC School in Blackburn. His footballing promise was shown as he represented Blackburn Schoolboys and also Lancashire Schoolboys.

He joined Rovers in May 1956 on a non-contract basis before signing for the club in January 1958.

Mr Pickering was skipper of the Rovers’ FA Youth Cup-winning side of 1959, playing at left back.

He made three appearances for the senior team in 1959 but it was the next year when he made an impact in the first team.

While playing in the second-string side, manager Jack Marshall decided to try him in the centre-forward position.

After a hat-trick against Newcastle United he was rewarded with a first-team slot.

He led the line in the First Division against Manchester City in a 4-1 win in March 1961 and it paid off with two goals.

The next campaign he picked up form with 23 goals in 36 league matches.

Working well with Bryan Douglas, the 5ft 11in forward proved to be a strong target man.

In the 1963-64 season, he was the ideal foil for Andy McEvoy, but he left for Merseyside in 1964 when Everton smashed the British domestic transfer record, paying Rovers £85,000 for his services.

He was capped three times by England but injuries disrupted his career and he joined Birmingham in 1967, and then after a spell at Blackpool he returned to Rovers in March 1971.

He was released by the club in February 1972 and later found work as a driver in Blackburn.