ASK any Blackburn Rovers fan for their favourite Bryan Douglas stories and it won’t be long before the name Ronnie Clayton starts to crop up in the conversation.

Just like Morecambe and Wise, Shearer and Sutton, and fish and chips go together, Douglas and Clayton have become synonymous with each other in tales about Rovers past.

Even today you will find the great double act, still with blue and white blood seaping through their veins, walking the corridors of Ewood Park as they entertain guests and sponsors on match days in the VIP lounge named after them.

Born within a couple of months of each other, the pair have become firm friends after adventures with Rovers and England that have seen them experience World Cups, relegation, promotion and FA Cup final defeat together.

It was not always the case though, with tough-tackling midfielder Clayton breaking onto the first team scene at Ewood some three years earlier than Douglas - although ‘Dougie’ insists he has his pal to thank for his initial breakthrough.

“Indirectly I got my chance because of Ronnie,” said Douglas. “When I started coming to Rovers I was invited to come to jobs" target= "_blank">training on Thursday nights. The person that was running it that time, Harry Wydette, he said we are thinking about next year for the B team for you.

“A couple of weeks later the season was starting and they were playing Harrisons gym in a pre-season friendly. He said ‘if you want to come down we will give you 15 minutes’.

“I went down on my bike, with my boots round my neck, and just about five minutes before kick off he said ‘get stripped one of the players hasn’t come’.

“I scored the goal and we got beat 4-1. He said ‘I have changed my mind, I want you to sign amateur forms and you can play a few games in the B team.

“The team went up and I was reserve for a game over at Rishton. Again about 10 minutes before the game we are one short. Again I played and at half time the lad who hadn’t turned up, turned up. It was Clayton. Indirectly I got the game and my chance because he was late.”

Between the two of them, Douglas and Clayton made well over 1000 appearances for Rovers, sharing the highest and lowest points at the club in the 1950s and 1960s.

They also represented their country numerous times together, including the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, before bowing out of the game together at non league Great Harwood.

“When we played here, he wasn’t my best pal,” said Douglas. “But when I got picked for England he was like a big brother. He looked after me, he introduced me to all the players and made me feel at home.

“I will always thank him for that. Since we finished playing our families got very friendly as well and we went on holiday together. We have become very close friends. People associate us together, we are a bit of a double act.

“He was very instrumental when I got into the England side and made me feel very comfortable. For example he arranged for me to travel down to the first match.

“We went down on the Monday, came home on Wednesday and on Thursday we travelled down to Porthcawl. We played Wales and Ronnie arranged for us to travel with Tom Finney.

“I couldn’t believe it, here I was travelling to my first international with Tom Finney. I had to keep pinching myself. He is a fantastic man.”

Having played with the likes of Finney and Duncan Edwards, Douglas has no shortage of talent to recollect when he thinks about the days gone by.

But, as far as he is concerned, Clayton deserves his place on any list of ‘greats’ - alongside some of the game’s favourite names.

Douglas said: “Ronnie was a solid midfield player. He did not dribble or anything but he stopped the opposition. He was a ball winner and when he got it he would pass it.

“He was very fit. He was not like a Gerrard, I suppose if he was playing today he would be a holding midfield player.

"Nobody had a good game against him. He read the game very well and he didn’t try to be very fancy.

“I kid him about all the goals he never scored but he did score one or two and the ones he did score were pretty useful.

"I used to joke he needed a passport to get into the opponents penalty area.

But when he was needed he was around.”