Blackburn Rovers boycott? I can’t do it

It won’t have escaped many people’s attention that there is something of a circus going on at Blackburn Rovers Football Club. Not an actual and literal circus of course, we’re a little short of elephants, ringmasters and trapeze artists for that sort of extravaganza. Although we’ve certainly got enough clowns for one.

And we’d probably take that sort of entertainment and light hearted tomfoolery over the metaphorical equivalent the fans of the club are currently suffering and have continued to endure over the course of the last 22 months.

If you’re a football fan you’ve probably seen the unfolding developments at Blackburn Rovers, the club I support, by now – Foreign chicken and pharmaceutical giants buy football club, promise the earth, deliver a fraction of this, sack respected manager, replace him with slightly less respected manager, he promises the earth, delivers a fraction of this, Ronaldinho and David Beckham are touted as signings, David Goodwillie and Radosav Petrovic are bought in as actual signings, best players are sold, untruths are told, relegation is suffered, tears are shed, and throughout, fans are up in arms at being led a merry dance and not having a proper explanation for the mess created.

Even worse, the fans are held up as a scapegoat for sending the club down whilst the real villains use the media to play the victims.

And with a new season brings a new problem. Once loyal fans and die hards are no longer coming to see their team. Those who once committed their precious time and limited funds to follow a cause they believed in have become so sick and tired of the people running the club that they stay away. They’d rather not give any further money to fund an operation they see as a farce and that’s why you’ll see Rovers with quite a comparatively large away following this season – they’re going to the away games as a way around giving the owners money.

Even the more casual and elderly fan no longer comes to support the Rovers because the fun has been sucked out of the experience. The atmosphere at Ewood Park last season was horrendous and the negativity on all four sides of the ground was tangible and very noticeable. Why would you go to the game? Where is the enjoyment in seeing truck loads of abuse and an increasingly poor standard of management/football generating a cauldron of hate?

They’ve seen worse days – back when we were languishing in the Old Divison Three. It’s not the relegation and the lack of glamour that’s a problem to them, it’s the lack of trust they can extend to the people in charge and the overriding fear of another Saturday listening to disgruntled fans barrack a manager who just doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.

Blackburn Rovers first two home games of the Championship season produced gates of sub-14,000 attendees. That’s the two lowest gates in over 20 years and even back then that was when half the ground was being rebuilt under Jack Walker’s dream. For a club that normally attracts attendances of around 20,000-23,000 it’s a sign of unrest and of mass exodus.

Right now there doesn’t appear to be a sensible way out of this mess. We could end up being Pompey version 2.0, or we could end up being passed to another owner who’s sole interest is themselves after having the funds and the assets withdrawn from us. We could even end up back in the Premier League with a proper club infrastructure and a manger who doesn’t sit there tooting the company horn without the action following to back it up, but that seems a stretch of the imagination I can’t fathom right now.

The evidence of this carefully thought out, individual choice boycott is plain and easy to see. I’ve read two articles in the recent past which clearly underline the thinking behind the “boycott” – one from Football 365’s Matthew Stanger and one from lifetime Rovers fan Michael Taylor on the Marple Leaf Blog, both clarifying their unhappiness and disgust at the way Venky’s run the club and the atmosphere that is generated as a bi-product of that. The useless bullshit machine that is Steve Kean is still manager, the club has fractions in administration and on the training ground, there is just no light at the end of the tunnel. Why should these likeable and thought conscience people go to Ewood Park?

I respect their views and they have my support as every fan of our club does. The problem in my own head is that I just can’t do it, I can’t stay away. I’m a Blackburn Rovers addict and I intend to stay strong no matter how bad the situation gets.

I believe in backing my team and I’ll continue to do so even against what a lot of straight thinking people would call better judgement, my stance has a lot of holes and pitfalls in it, I accept that, but my love for my team overrides all of the nagging doubts and principles that come with supporting the boycott.

I’ll still buy my tickets and my shirt and go to the games on match days because I want to watch my team play, I still enjoy the banter and I live in hope that the good days will return. I’m not talking about a Premier League trophy or a glorious European run, I’m talking about a time in the future where fans of Rovers can stand in the pub on a Saturday or weekday night and talk about football.

Like many other Rovers fans, I’ve taken a heap load of criticism and abuse from fans of other teams. I’ve even sat by and seen my club ripped apart whilst trying to keep a straight face and an objective view, many have buckled and I don’t blame them for a second but I’ll still keep going. I don’t believe in quitting just because things are hard. I’m born of the train of thought that you only get one football team in this life and I’ll stick with mine until the bitter end.

I guess you could call this riding the storm out, I’ll go to games, I’ll support the players and the team like I always have done because in my own head I know what’s going on at Ewood Park is wrong. I shouldn’t be endorsing or even be seen to be abiding by a regime that doesn’t give a damn about me.

But my mindset is that I’ll be here for many years to come, long after Venky’s and their propaganda producing backers have gone. You’ll see me in the stands this season and that stance won’t change, it’s the type of stoic loyalty that only some would understand. Am I right to feel this way? That’s down you I guess.

As my Father-in-Law once said to me sat in the car park, freezing and unable to feel my feet after a 0-2 loss to Stoke on Boxing Day two seasons ago, “I signed up for the life ticket.” And he’s right. Foolishly, I did as well.

16 Comments on "Blackburn Rovers boycott? I can’t do it"

  1. Ronnie hildersley | August 29, 2012 at 9:16 am | Reply

    I share the sentiments. Tho we’ve never been in div 4!

  2. Old division 4. I think not.

  3. Rovers have never played in the ‘old division 4″. Lowest point they reached was the old division3.

    • Out of all that all u picked up on was we weren’t in div 4 negativity that I see every week on the stands we scored on sat against leicester and a bloke behind me as we sat down said “were never gonna win” wtf!! Brfc till I die!!

  4. I dont recall blackburn rovers ever being in the old div four.

  5. I have just read your article and you describe the current situation well, albeit we (Rovers) have never played in the 4th Div.

    As a supporter of some 45 years, I too have known highs and lows, but none of those come even close to the situation we find ourselves in now. Bad managers and board rooms we have had a plenty and, like yourself, I have taken it on the chin, shrugged my shoulders and continued going week in week out, in the knowledge that eventually things will/might change and the sun will shine again. Its a drug, as you say, its in my head and heart and I will never stop supporting my Rovers.

    But, and you knew there was going to be one of those lurking there sooner are later, this is somehow different, very different. This current episode in the Rovers history, I believe in the future, will be looked upon as a cancer in the club. A cancer that has to be stopped, one way or another.

    I hate, and that isn’t too strong a word, not going to the home games. I was like a bear with a sore head last Wed and Sat and could have caved in quite easily. I resent and despise the current Ewood incumbents for putting me in this position and spoiling my leisure time.

    In conclusion, I, again like you, have gone through the “well it wont matter whether I go or not, so I’ll go” routine, but then I remember the analogy that I drew up in my mind when I made my decision to boycott the home games. If I had a child, that I had loved dearly and supported for many years and that child came to me with a heroin problem …… what would I do to help that child? I would want the child to stop the drug taking, obviously, and to do that certain restrictions would have to be observed. Much pain and hurt would be poured onto that child, by myself, in order to rid us of the problem. That pain would not only be felt by the child but equally by myself, but in the knowledge it was for the greater good. Of course there is another scenario, I could feed/fund the child and support the drug problem …… easier option?

    Thats how I view it, I’m not trying to encourage yourself or others to boycott, as we are all in this together and we have to deal with stuff the way we need too.


    • Dave, I fully accept your position and indeed it saddens me that a follow fan like yourself has to make this choice. We will disagree on the approach that we have both taken but both have Rovers at our hearts.

      Hopefully, one day soon, whatever the solution you will feel once again taht you can be back at Ewood.

  6. As always Mikey, you put your very valida points together in sensible way, like you I can’t stay away or not go to away games, it’s too big a part of my life.

    And despite what I may have been accused of in the past by others, I have never stopped anyone voiceing their own opinion or protest.

    Having said that, we are were we are, Venkys are our Owners – they don’t look like they are going anywhere – and seemingly Kean The Unsackable appears to be goign nowhere (unfortunately we have a “man” in charge with no moral fibre or sense of decency)

    There is a more pressing concern, at Ipswich there were a number of Rovers fans that turned on each other this is happening more frequently, but what was not excusable was that some “fans” turned to the stewards with accusations of physical abuse and got other rovers fans evicted. The police investigated but found from CCTV that the ejected fans had no case to answer. This is all heresay, am I am not able to provide confirmation of what actually happened and who was involved but it is worrying that this form of false accusation can be made.

  7. An excellent article as ever.

    For me the big lack at Ewood at the moment and it applies to the Board, the manager, the players and, by extension, to the fans – is pride.

    We no longer have anything to be proud of.

    When we were declining in the Premier League, as we inevitably had to do following our lifting of the trophy in 1995, we could always say that we were “punching above our weight”. No longer can we say that.

    By sticking with a very poor manager last season we threw away our Premier League status which should have been the catalyst for the sacking of the man in charge.

    Football is a sport not an entertainment; it is not, as Mikey points out, an ‘actual’ circus at Ewood. The fans want to see their team win games. An enjoyable style of play is secondary. Kean has a statistically appalling record of games won and yet remains in his job. That is not a cause for pride Venkys.

    It is difficult for fans who work damned hard each day, not to get a renewed and improved contract, but merely to improve their chances of keeping their job, to pay to watch someone who is so appallingly bad at his job that he has become the subject of vicious abuse from otherwise notably passive fans.

    How many times do we have to ask the rhetorical question ‘how long is the nightmare going to go on’? When will sanity return and the owners appoint a manager who has a proven track-record of successfully managing a football club?

    Thank goodness there are enough others, like myself and like Mikey, who take a stubborn pride in knowing that we will see this through and will deal with these hard times without caving in and walking away.

    There’s that word again – ‘pride’. Find some Venkys.

  8. Thanks for your feedback guys, sorry I did mean div 3 not 4! It’s now been amended!

  9. I feel your pain…..keep the faith!

  10. I love your passion and share it also! Wish there was more fans who shared the same drive n passion to stand there every week and watch those 11 men on that pitch n forget about background noncence n jus cheer for the boys in blue n not shout abuse to the manager! That must hav a negative effect on the players and I for 1 can notice it in the players body language !! Bring on the dingles!!

  11. Could you not put aside your selfish justifications and boycott just one game to give a loud and clear message to Kean, Venkys, the media and the rest of the footballing panoply?

    Maybe then those of us who are “stoicly” boycotting can come back and start to reclaim and feel part of OUR club again.

    By a 74/75 Glory Hunter.

    • My thoughts exactly Bob, boycotting one game might not sound much but in terms of the publicity that it would generate, not only in the footballing world, it would be enormous.

      I imagine, on a business front, for Venkys it could be catastrophic.

      Unity is a powerful weapon.

  12. The exodus is down to many reasons. Some people have undoubtedly had enough of the terrible atmosphere, Football after all is a game of entertainment, ie for enjoyment, and there is nothing enjoyable about sitting in the cold and rain, feeling your heart sink at seeing your team relegated and having an utter hatred to the pit of your stomach for a man you have never even met. It makes no sense, why get yourself down for days on end for a cause that, at the end of the day, does not matter. Im as big of a supporter as anybody, I love Blackburn Rovers and always will do, And I too have an obsession, but there comes a time when your just think enough is enough. When it starts to effect your actual life,you have to take a step back and have a reality check. Theres a nasty air to Ewood on a saturday afternoon, something I have never experienced before, and its very sad. So that is why I stay away, and I assume many others will be in the exact same boat.

  13. By boycotting games we are sending a message not just to Steve Kean or Venky’s but hopefully to anybody thinking of buying a football club.

    I mean if I was a greedy millionaire thinking of a way to make even more cash, this is what I would do… I would buy a product(rovers), strip it down to make it alot lot worse than it originally was, because no matter how bad my product is, dedicated people (fans) will still put money in my pocket. Now that’s laughing all the way to the bank!

    This is the wrong message we as football fans should be sending!!

    Therefore as boycotter’s we refuse to finance these already over wealthy asset strippers, and we do this unselfishly for the greater good. This so that our children’s children can enjoy the future things that a better well run football club will bring.

    We must hold our clubs interests above any, including the team. If the club is on stable ground the team will always improve. It is not in the best interests of our club to put money in it’s accounts, only for them to be pilfered away.

    In my opinion those who chose to go, including members of my own family, are only doing so for their own selfish needs. Your team can survive without you but your club will be ruined with you! In other words you have to be cruel to be kind! STEVE KEAN OUT!

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