In part two of his Rovers feature, TOM SCHOFIELD, speaks to Colin Hendry and Alan Shearer about the title winning season...


In October 1991 a now Jack Walker owned Rovers made a move to hire former Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish as their new manager.

His goal was simple. Ensure promotion from Division Two, so that they would be part of the newly formed Premier League.

Dalglish was successful in doing that as despite a poor run of formm Rovers recovered to finish just inside the play-offs. They would first beat third place Derby 5-4 on aggregate in the semi-final.

That set up an encounter against Leicester at Wembley, where a Mike Newell penalty was the difference, as a Mike Newell penalty secured a play-off final win over Leicester and a place in the Premier League’s maiden season.

Full Members’ Cup goal scoring hero, Colin Hendry, made his return to the club in November of 1991 as one of Kenny Dalglish’s first bits of business and he played a major part in the promotion win.

“I’ve been there three times now, twice as a player and once as a coach, and I’ve never ever regretted it,” he said. “For me as well to go back to the club, you could tell that things were happening.

“Jack had a plan to get the club into Europe within six years, so to get promotion at Wembley in my first season back was great.”

Hendry feels he improved even more at Rovers, largely in part to Dalglish’s assistant, Ray Harford.

Harford is often lauded by Rovers fans and players as a vital cog in the Rovers machine and though he didn’t replicate that success as a manager, is still well respected.

Hendry continued: “The combination between them (Dalglish and Harford) was perfect, Ray was probably as good a coach in the country as anyone.

“He did go on to be a number one, he was always a coach rather than a manager and that is no disrespect to him he was a great coach.”

Alan Shearer was Rovers marquee signing in the summer after promotion from Division Two, signing for a then record fee, £3.7m.

Manchester United were also interested in the Southampton prospect, but the pull of working with Dalglish and Harford proved to be too much for Shearer.

The Premier League’s all-time top scorer said of his decision to join Rovers: “It was a lot of things, including Ray Harford.

“We had three very successful men [Dalglish, Harford, Walker] in their own right and a promising team trying to win.

“So add that to hard work then I knew we would have a great chance of achieving something.”

His first season playing in blue and white wasn’t plain sailing though, suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Leeds United. What was evident however, was Shearer’s prolific nature, as the striker would score 16 goals in the 21 games he was to feature in.

Shearer said: “I was devastated because it had been going so well.

“To be honest, any injury would have been hard to take but a serious knee injury was difficult.

“Knowing that I was going to be out for six or seven months was very hard to take.”

Rovers broke the British transfer record again in 1994, signing Chris Sutton from Norwich for £5m. Along with Shearer, he would go on to form one half of one of the Premier League’s most lethal duos, the SAS.

Of his strike partners at Rovers, Shearer said: “The best partnerships, I felt, were the ones I didn’t have to work hard at.

“With both Mike Newell and Chris Sutton that was the case.

“We just had a great understanding of each other’s game and we also played in a very attacking system that suited our games.”

As the end of the 1994/95 season approached Rovers’ form fell off. A win against Newcastle in the penultimate game of the season meant that Rovers fate remained in their own hands as they headed to Kenny Dalglish’s old stomping ground, Anfield.

Manchester United had to travel to Upton Park knowing that if they were to better Rovers’ result, they would complete a hat-trick of Premier League titles.

Shearer handed Rovers an early lead, but goals from John Barnes and a last minute free-kick from Jamie Redknapp meant that Shearer’s side were relying on West Ham.

United had bombarded West Ham’s goal but an inspired goalkeeping performance from Luděk Mikloško meant that the title would be heading to Ewood Park.

For Shearer though, the final day was the culmination of a seasons hard work and was thoroughly deserved.

He said: “It was a crazy day that ended in victory, it was all very nerve-wracking.

“We won it over the season not just the last day, that being said I still love West Ham for helping us out.”

Hendry describes it in a similar light, knowing that whilst the title was in Rovers hands, they faced an incredibly tough test against a Liverpool side.

He said: “I think prior to the games kicking off, United at West Ham and us Liverpool, you’d say the advantage was with United.

“For Liverpool they had a day where they couldn’t lose. Everybody in Anfield wanted Blackburn to win the league.”

It was a matter of seconds after Rovers had gone behind that news began to filter through that it was full time at Upton Park.

Hendry continued: “So it got towards the end of the game, the game was still going on and it’s just after Liverpool scored.

“We look over though and Ray is just all over Kenny, Kenny is jumping up and down.

“We saw that and thought that’s it. We have either won the league, or West Ham have scored.

“Either way we have probably won the league.

“The game is still going on, but it’s just bypassing us, it really was flying past us.

“At that minute in time, it didn’t matter what the score was at Anfield, we have won it.”

One of the major criticisms of that Rovers side is the suggestion that Rovers bought the league. Interestingly enough, when the cost of Rovers starting 11 is compared to that of United’s, it cost £5m less.

Similarly the likes of Leeds spent more money on Carlton Palmer than Rovers did across the entire midfield four.

On those accusations, Hendry said: “I will always have an argument over buying the league,  Blackburn Rovers didn’t buy the league, we bought Shearer for £3.5m and sold him for £15m.

“We bought Christ Sutton for £5m and sold him for £10m. In real terms I cost the club £25,000, because they bought me back for what I was sold for, then I went for £3m to Rangers.

“They made profit on everyone, you can’t say that’s the same as it is now.”