WHEN former Rovers full-back Mick "Basil" Rathbone is asked for his abiding memory of his Ewood career he instantly recalls a moment few fans will forget - and it was hardly his finest hour.

It is the measure of the man that he is not shy about an incident that many players would simply choose to eradicate from their memories.

His nadir came in an FA Cup fifth round tie against Manchester United at Ewood Park in 1985, unfortunately in front of a crowd of 22,692 and live television cameras which in those days were a rarity at football grounds.

Rathbone's slip-up saw him stand on the ball as he came out of defence and it gifted possession to United's Gordon Strachan who raced away to put the ball in the net.

"It was the one event, a highlight that's really a lowlight, that summed up a lot of what happened to me in my time at Blackburn," said Rathbone, who is now in his sixth year as physio at Rovers' first division rivals Preston North End.

"It was one of those moments when time stood still and all I could think of as Gordon Strachan ran off was my Mum at home in Birmingham sat in front of the telly choking on her Milk Tray.

"After the game one of the first comments the manager, Bobby Saxton, made to the cameras was that at least two million people in south east Asia, courtesy of live television, now knew the name of Mick Rathbone. "At the time I had a long-haired Alsatian named Max and we both got in the national papers the day after under the headline 'In the dog house'.

"But the strange thing was that people killed me with kindness afterwards, no one had a go at all. In fact at our next game the Rovers fans gave me a standing ovation when I managed to chest a ball down and pass it back to the keeper successfully."

And "Basil" is not allowed to forget that moment either.

"Preston played Coventry in the Worthington Cup this season and I met Gordon Strachan," explained Rathbone.

"It was the first time we had met face to face, previously I had only seen his back, and he brought up that incident and thanked me because he had been having a nightmare prior to that.

"And the lads at Preston are really good because they keep insisting on doing a 'Phoenix from the ashes' re-run of the moment in training."

Born in Birmingham in 1958, Rathbone made Blackburn his home away from home after starting his career with the Blues in his home city.

Having been an England youth international Rathbone quickly made the transition from a Blues junior to the first team, but by the time Rovers came in for him in 1979, paying £40,000 for his services, he was glad to get away.

"Birmingham didn't want to sell me, but it can be hard playing in your home town in front of your family and friends," explained Rathbone.

"When you are playing well it is fine but if your form slipped, and I can tell you my form did slip, there is a lot of pressure."

A loan spell convinced Rovers boss John Pickering that Rathbone was just the man he need for a second division relegation fight and City boss Jim Smith reluctantly agreed to let the full-back make his move.

Pickering's reign was to be shortlived and Rathbone then struggled to find a regular slot before making left back his own under Saxton.

It was all a labour of love for the Rovers players at the time reckons Rathbone who contends: "It really was all done on a shoestring, but they had this knack of keeping us all happy on terrible wages.

"I am making ten times as much now as a physio as I ever did as a player and that is only 20 years ago, but to be honest at the time we didn't really seem to bother.

"I remember at the end of one season we were all waiting to hear what our new deals would be for the following year when the chairman Bill Fox wandered in with a case of beer. He told us that the wages were staying the same but the beer was free - and we were all happy with that!" A broken leg sustained against Sheffield Wednesday in October 1983 was a setback Rathbone shook off, but a string of other injuries pre-empted the end of his Ewood stay.

"The broken leg was just one of those occupational hazards but the biggest blow was, having been an ever present, was a hamstring injury that I got against Chelsea in the Full Members Cup," said Rathbone.

"To miss the Wembley final because of that was hard and I feel that was the point at which I knew I was moving on."

It was then that Rathbone first moved to Deepdale as a player under John McGrath and a string of freak injuries, including a broken arm and a cheekbone fracture, left him thinking about the future.

Time on the treatment table led to him feeling that the position of physiotherapist, and taking a new approach to that role within a club, appealed greatly.

Having hung up his boots Rathbone embarked on a degree course at Salford University and then came another link with McGrath, who offered him the chance to be a hands on physio with Halifax Town which also afforded the opportunity to study outside working hours. In the end life at the Shay became more complex.

Rathbone became manager as Town slipped into the Conference and then even returned as a player in the non-League, holding the unique job description of assistant manager- player-physio under John Bird, before cutting his ties to return to Deepdale.