Daniel Ainsworth talks to Rovers’ all-time record appearance holder Derek Fazackerley about his time at Ewood Park and his coaching career.
Fazackerley spent 18 years playing for Rovers, and in his time at the Blue and White halves, he made 671 appearances – a record for Rovers.
The record still stands to this day, and it is likely that it won’t be broken.
Fazackerley went on to feature for Chester City, York City, Bury and Finnish side Kuusankosken Kumu, before turning his hand to coaching – and has coached at several clubs including Rovers, Birmingham City and Oxford United.
We talked to Derek about his time at Rovers and his coaching career.
What are your favourite memories of your 18 year Rovers career?
“I’ve many, many, happy memories of my time at the Rovers, all be it was many years ago now.
“I was extremely privileged to play under some fantastic managers, Bobby Saxton, Jim Smith, Gordon Lee and Howard Kendall to name but a few. Of course, I remember the promotion teams I played in very fondly, and the camaraderie you built up over the years with the players involved, some of which I’m still in touch with to this day.
“My debut against Hull away was an occasion I will never forget, along with some of the big cup ties we were involved with against the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Southampton and Aston Villa. all clubs we competed against at various times.”
How does it feel to hold the record for appearances at Rovers, with 671 appearances, and do you think it’ll ever be broken?
“I’m very proud of my appearance record at Blackburn and the status that it has given me in and around the town. To beat the record of the late great Ronnie Clayton was a very humbling occasion, as he was a player I knew as he was at the club when I started as a player.
“I would be very surprised if it ever did get beaten, though it is not impossible, there is far too much money involved in the game today, that makes it less likely for someone to stay at one club that long.”
How was it working at Rovers?
“My return to Rovers as a coach after they won the Premier League was difficult.
“The team had not started the following season well at all. I think the club had lost its way a little and I’m sad to say that it wasn’t one of my best periods at the club. Though, when I look back keeping the team in the Premier League alongside Tony Parkes when Ray Harford left was a great achievement.
“I don’t think supporters understand how difficult a task that was over such a length of time without a permanent manager, before the arrival of Roy Hodgson in the following summer.”
For those who don’t know, you are currently the assistant manager at Rovers’ League One counterparts Oxford United. How much are you enjoying the role?
“I’m enjoying my role at Oxford United, along with the progress that the club had made.
“Achieving promotion in our second season, along with two Wembley appearances in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and Checkatrade Trophy finals, along with the success we’ve enjoyed in the other cup competitions. Our aim this year is to close the four point gap we had last year when we missed out on the playoffs, and hopefully, we can achieve at least that this season.”
What are your thoughts on Rovers’ summer transfer window?
“In all honesty, I’ve not taken too much notice of Rovers’ transfer activity this summer, far too busy trying to look after our own at Oxford, though I fully expect Rovers to be competing in the top half of our division against us, and being one of our main competitors.”
What are your hopes for Rovers this season?
“My primary focus and concern are to be promoted with Oxford and to continue the progress we’ve made over the last three years, firstly with Michael Appleton and now with Pep Clotet.
“But as a person who still lives in the area and watches them whenever possible, I would like to see them do well, but not at Oxford’s expense.”
This interview was originally published in September 2017.