Today marks the anniversary of one of the most significant days in the club’s history, with Rovers lifting the Worthington Cup on this day in 2002.
Goals from Matt Jansen and Andy Cole helped underdogs Rovers lift the League Cup trophy in Cardiff, their first cup trophy since the Full Members’ Cup win in 1987.
We’ve had the privilege and honour to speak to four members of the 2001-02 squad on the 1875 Podcast.
Below are the words of Craig Short (who was suspended for the final), John Curtis (who was on the bench on that day), Nils-Eric Johannson and Brad Friedel (both of whom who started the match).
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The full links to the episodes will be linked below each name, so feel free to check them out.
Full Episode with John Curtis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Rl-Lfew5Fk&list=PLYP9PMJ44veHIAQi-Y5G0Y3ZABcLraH3w&index=9
“We were underdogs. We could have, on our day, beaten anybody and we proved it there. Matty (Jansen) was on fire, Coley (Andy Cole) as well was going to be a threat against anybody. We was quietly confident.”
Speaking of being on the bench, Curtis said: “I still felt part of it. It was disappointing when I found out I wasn’t starting because I think I played in every game in the League Cup that season and I was on the bench in the final.
“But, by time the final comes around, you realise you’re there for something bigger than yourself. You’re always there to try and help the club as much as you possibly can. I’ve got to do a job and that’s the focus. Fortunately, everything went well and we came away with the trophy.”
Full Episode with Nils-Eric Johansson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtZPyt4vAQU&list=PLYP9PMJ44veHIAQi-Y5G0Y3ZABcLraH3w&index=2
“I didn’t really have that much knowledge about the League Cup. The big teams didn’t really use their best players but the closer you get to the final, teams realise it’s an easier way into Europe.
“Obviously, Wembley was being built so we had to play in Cardiff, and with the national anthem and the full stadium, it was amazing. We felt very confident. We played against a good Tottenham team with experienced players like Sherwood and Sheringham.
“We played Mark Hughes in midfield and he was amazing. He loved to compete did Sparky – he loved a tackle. Andy Cole had come in earlier in the year and we had Matty [Jansen] and Coley. Matty worked really hard – I can’t say Coley did!
“It was a pretty amazing first year [at Rovers]”Embed from Getty Images
Full Episode with Craig Short: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0o0etH9E0Y&list=PLYP9PMJ44veHIAQi-Y5G0Y3ZABcLraH3w&index=6
Speaking about missing the final through suspension, Short said: “It was stupid. I was sent off against Manchester United, then I got sent off against Sunderland and then at Fulham. I put my arm up to protect myself and caught Steve Marlet. As soon as the red card was shown, I knew I was going to miss the cup and I was in tears after the game. Hughes came over and chatted to me. The journey I’d been on from non-league, I was never going to get the chance to play in the cup. It’s my biggest regret missing that game.
“Graeme made us part of the squad. We weren’t favourites, we were underdogs. Sparky played in midfield because Tugay wasn’t there. He was outstanding, he was physical. The goal that Coley [Andy Cole] was instinctive, it was a lovely goal.
“[It was] a wonderful day for Blackburn, and having the stadium closed was great – it added to the atmosphere!”
Full Episode with Brad Friedel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XywEeHiHBlI&list=PLYP9PMJ44veHIAQi-Y5G0Y3ZABcLraH3w&index=7
“I always felt with anyone that was in our team that we had the ability to win, we had a good squad. Mark Hughes was the type of player that you could put in any position, it wasn’t going to faze him. I don’t think any of us walking out there thought we’d lose. Even if we weren’t having a great game, we had guys who could score goals out of nothing then you always have a chance. At the time, we had a lot of pressure on us.
“It’s up there with one of the highlights in my career.”
We are hosting a special live stream on Tuesday 27 July to raise some much needed funds for our charity partner 'Sporting Minds UK', who provide much needed mental health support for sportspeople.
There are plenty of prizes up for grabs, including a signed pair of boots from Elliott Bennett and signed shirts from John Buckley and Joe Rothwell.
To donate, please visit rcdonate.com and give whatever you can to help support this wonderful cause. Thank you.