This is going to be a difficult article for me to write without either writing too much or going over the top. Alan Shearer is the legend of my era of being a Blackburn Rovers fan.
Signed by Kenny Dalglish with Jack Walker’s money from Southampton in 1992 for what was then a British transfer record fee of £3.3million, Shearer was already an England international centre forward. With Gary Lineker retiring from England duty, Shearer was keen to hit the ground running for his new club to prove to Graham Taylor that he was the best #9 in the country.
It would be an underestimation to say that he managed to do this. From his Premier League debut against Crystal Palace, where he scored two superb goals from outside the area, Shearer’s goalscoring form was outstanding in the 92/93 season until a very serious knee injury sustained at Leeds in December kept him out for the rest of the campaign.
There were concerns that he may not be the same player on his return in the 93/94 season, but those fears were quickly dismissed as he rattled in 31 Premier League goals to fire Rovers to 2nd place behind Manchester United, the club he turned down to come to Ewood in the first place. That season he was named Football Writers’ Player of the Year, the only Blackburn Rovers player to ever be awarded this accolade.
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Then came the season of his life, the season of quite a lot of our lives too, 1994/95 will forever be indelibly seared onto my brain as Blackburn Rovers became Premier League champions for the first time (I couldn’t bring myself to say “only” time, let’s be optimistic!). Alan Shearer scored 34 goals in that campaign, in which he was assisted by another British record transfer purchase in the £5m Chris Sutton, forming the now legendary SAS strike partnership. Players such as Stuart Ripley and Jason Wilcox were tasked with providing the ammunition for the feared duo, whilst Colin Hendry, Ian Pearce and Henning Berg shored up the defensive line ahead of record goalkeeper signing Tim Flowers. Shearer scored so many pivotal goals in this campaign, including scoring on the fateful final day against Liverpool, and had memorable hat-tricks against QPR, West Ham and Ipswich.
He remained Rovers’ #9 for the following season, but changes that went on around him, such as Kenny Dalglish’s decision to move upstairs meant that the team were unable to mount a strong defence of their title. However, he did have his first taste of Champions League football, but this was probably the only time he disappointed in his Rovers career. His only goal in the campaign was a penalty in a 4-1 win at home to Rosenborg, which in itself was a sideshow to Mike Newell’s remarkable hat-trick in that game.
Despite these disappointments Shearer again scored over 30 Premier League goals, this time in a 38 match campaign, to be the league’s leading scorer once more. This would be his final season for the club as, after a successful Euro 96 campaign that saw him finish as the tournament’s leading scorer, the club reluctantly accepted a World record transfer fee of £15 million pounds from Shearer’s hometown club, Newcastle United. The club apparently wouldn’t accept a bid from Manchester United, and reported interest from the likes of Juventus and Barcelona were unpalatable to Shearer, who didn’t want to uproot his family.
Shearer left Blackburn Rovers having scored a remarkable 130 goals in 171 matches, 112 goals in 138 games in the Premier League. He won the club’s Player of the Year award twice in succession in 1995 and 1996, and is the only Blackburn player to win the Player’s Player of the Year award, achieved in 1995.
After leaving Ewood, Shearer went on to play for Newcastle and England and cement himself as a legend for both teams. He captained both his hometown club and his country, scoring 206 times in 405 appearances for Newcastle (148 in 303 in the Premier League) and 30 goals in 63 caps for England, making him the joint sixth-highest scorer for England. He never won another piece of silverware in his career after he left Blackburn.
He still holds a number of records, some of which were helped by his time with Blackburn:
– Highest Premier League scorer with 260 goals
– Most goals in a 42 game Premier League season with 34
– Most Premier League hat-tricks with 11
– Most Premier League penalties with 56
– Most Premier League goals scored inside the box with 227
– Most goals scored in a Premier League match with 5 (jointly held)
I spoke to Luke Rewaj, Blackburn End season ticket holder since 1994/95 and Tony Avino, a Jack Walker Stand season ticket holder from the early 1990s about the impact that Alan Shearer had on them as fans.
What was it like watching Shearer live?
Avino: “Whenever he played, it was more of a surprise if he didn’t score. 5 yards, 15 yards, 30 yards, you know he’d hit the target. I don’t think I’ll ever see a more natural goalscorer, and it was a privilege to see him at the top of his game”.
Rewaj: “I was only young then, my first season ticket was in 1994/95, so watching him was always exciting. I thought he was going to score every game, and he did most times to be fair”.
What has been Shearer’s legacy at the club?
Avino: “He’s become a benchmark against which all future Rovers strikers are measured against. Garner may well have scored more, but Shearer managed it consistently against a better class of opposition in what was arguably the most successful period of the club’s history”.
Rewaj: “No striker we have had since comes close really. Arguably the greatest ever Premier League striker. Made his name with Rovers and won the Premier League title with us – need I say more?”
What was his most legendary moment at Rovers?
Avino: “Sounds obvious, but lifting the Premier League trophy. Unless I’m mistaken, the only major trophy in his career”.
Rewaj: “Has to be the Premier League title, he was the major factor in us winning the league that year”.
Whilst I agree 100% with the guys, I would be more specific and say that the one moment I believe crowned him in Rovers’ folklore was the goal he scored against Newcastle at home on 8th May 1995. Rising at the back post to meet a floated Graeme Le Saux cross, it was the goal that won that pivotal match in the run-in and meant that we only needed to better Man Utd’s result on the final day to become champions.
Thanks for reading.