Blackburn Rovers – A fan’s response to a desperate situation

Blackburn Rovers Goal Celebrations

As part of our HITC Sport 92 series, Vincent Ralph looks at Blackburn Rovers...and the efforts of one fan in particular.

YouTube is synonymous with quick-fix entertainment. But for all the daredevil pets and tone-deaf songstresses, there are some hidden gems to be found. Among the videos we swiftly forget are those we would do well to remember.

This article is about one such video.

Two months ago, I wrote a piece about Blackburn’s then-caretaker manager Gary Bowyer, a piece that said he was too good for them. Not too good for the club but too good for the owners, who appeared from my perspective to be redefining my understanding of “ridiculous”.

A man who has behaved so impeccably in the midst of such absurdity would be better served in an environment where football is understood; and where men such as Bowyer are championed, not used as stop-gaps.’

That was what I wrote at the time. But I didn’t have the whole picture. At least not until Blackburn fan Rishi Sikka got in touch with me. In so doing, he ultimately brought my attention to the real situation at Ewood Park, and showed me why men like Bowyer are vital to the club’s future.

Sikka’s new documentary – Venky’s - The Fall of Blackburn Rovers – is a must-watch both for fans of the club and for those who wish to learn more about how this once-great team have fallen from grace.

Made in the summer of 2012, the film explores the impact Venky’s have had on both the club and the community. Because if one thing is clear from watching the documentary, it is that Rovers is very much a community club.

Including interviews with former players Derek Fazackerley, Glenn Keeley, Simon Garner and Mick Rathbone, along with supporters’ groups and council members, Sikka has put together an impressive investigation of the feeling of those close to the club.

With input from PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor it is clear the concern for the plight of Rovers stretches far beyond the local area. And because every good film needs some comedy, Sikka also managed to secure an interview with Blackburn’s Global Advisor Shebby Singh.

When I asked the director/producer how he managed to arrange such an impressive array of interviews he said, “My range of contacts snowballed from the very first phone call I made, and I was very fortunate that these people were concerned about the situation enough to participate.”

A fan since the age of four, Sikka was inspired to make the film following Blackburn’s 2-1 defeat to Bolton in December 2011.

I saw the anger on the fans’ faces and I wanted to find out what was happening at the football club,” he said.

The fans were incredibly upset but it wasn’t because we had just lost 2-1…there was something else.”

That “something else” is explored in great detail throughout the documentary.

For all his efforts, Sikka was unable to secure an interview with Venky’s. But if he had, I asked, what would he say?

Listen to the fans, they know the club. Get to know the local community and employ an experienced director. Oh, and keep Jordan Rhodes.”

It is excellent advice, and Rovers fans can only hope the owners are listening.

Having watched the film, the underlying feeling is one of fan frustration; frustration of the unknown, of the mystery in which the club is now shrouded.

And once the credits had rolled, I wondered what else supporters had done in the name of their team, what other creative ventures were out there having been prompted by a club’s misfortune or mismanagement.

Next time you go on YouTube, you would do well to look for them. It is not solely the place for a quick laugh. There are some important things hidden amongst the silliness.

To see the documentary, click below:

 To find out more about the HITC Sport 92 project, and to get involved, click here.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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