x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Blackburn Rovers fans finally have reason to cheer after Arsenal victory

After a miserable couple of years, Blackburn Rovers supporters deserved the chance to celebrate after their FA Cup victory over Arsenal, writes Richard Jolly.

Colin Kazim-Richards's goal against Arsenal in the FA Cup brought much-needed joy to Blackburn fans. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images
Colin Kazim-Richards's goal against Arsenal in the FA Cup brought much-needed joy to Blackburn fans. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

Supporting a particular football club can sometimes become a joyless experience. Think of Coventry City for most of the past dozen years or Portsmouth over the past four, for instance.

There is the public fall from grace, the loss of status that accompanies relegation from the Premier League and, in some cases, the recognition that top-flight football may not return for many years, if at all.

It is particularly painful when private grief is interrupted by public castigation or mockery, when prefixes such as "crisis club" and "joke club" are attached in every description.

Claims that some fans deserve success ought to be taken with a pinch of salt; are, say, Manchester United's followers that much better than their counterparts at AFC Wimbledon? Every single one of them?

But, certainly, occasions arise when an entire fan base merits a little respite from the misery.

There was one such on Saturday. Since Blackburn Rovers were bought by Venky's in November 2010, they had seen relegation and resignations, the loss of a hugely competent manager, in Sam Allardyce, as well as stalwarts of the side, such as Ryan Nelsen and Christopher Samba, and their brightest young talents, in Phil Jones and Junior Hoilett.

They had witnessed the departures of the men who made up the fabric of the club, occupying the key administrative positions behind the scenes, and, from the dugout to the boardroom, the appointments of many who were utterly unsuitable for their roles.

They had protested about the damage done to the club and found themselves vilified by outsiders who did not understand events at Ewood Park.

So Saturday's FA Cup win at Emirates Stadium was a reward for the long suffering. Beating Arsenal does not undo two years of often disastrous decision making, and progress may ultimately hamper Rovers' play-off push in the Championship, but it was a match to savour for Blackburn, a rare occasion when the headlines were wholly positive and, from the acrobatics of the goalkeeper Jake Kean to the goal scored by the forward Colin Kazim-Richards, they had plenty to celebrate on the pitch.

And one day, when the full story of Steve Kean's managerial reign and the agent Jerome Anderson's involvement at Ewood Park is told, as it must be, Blackburn supporters will be owed many an apology.

In the meantime, with Rovers in the FA Cup quarter-finals and seeming on the up again, they can console themselves with that most precious of emotions: hope.

 

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