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BORO v Blackburn
 

BORO v Blackburn

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BORO v Blackburn Rovers (The Riverside, Sat 16th March 2024, ko 3pm).

No rest for the wicked! As soon as QPR v BORO and then Birmingham v BORO are disposed of, a third game within 8 days sneaks up almost unuspected: BORO's home game against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday 16th March. So, what can we say about Blackburn? That if its roads reflect the transport realities in the rest of the UK, its previous 4,000 holes must now be ten times that number? Perhaps, with some poetic licence, that its famous son, panellist Lee Mack from "Would I lie to you?", thinks its football team is a joke that even Bob Mortimer would find it hard to match? Though, to be fair, Bob would hardly be a neutral commentator on this matter. Let's see....

Blackburn, the town in the midst of a football hotbed in Lancashire, is in the centre of several football towns so close they can almost smell each others' breath. Take the route travelling a mere 6.5 miles to the east of Blackburn and we find Accrington. In another 3.5 miles from there we arrive at Burnley. To those who prefer Napoleonic measures, that 10 miles from Blackburn to Burnley approximates to 16km. Going in the opposite direction, westwards from Blackburn, we arrive at Preston in 10 miles and Blackpool in 26.5 miles. Forget for a moment the thicket of football clubs in the southern part of the historic County of Lancashire (the Manchester clubs, Bolton, Rochdale, Liverpool, Everton and Tranmere...), this is an area close to the roots of Association Football and, indeed, the Football League.

A long story which I will cut short, but I once shared a house with 3 other lads when at college in Chester: an interloper from Leicester plus one lad from Accrington and another from Burnley. And to top it off, the lad who was on my "2nd floor staircase" for 3 years at University was from just outside Preston. Those folk from Blackburn/Preston/Accrington/Burnley REALLY don't like their neighbouring clubs. Apparently the derby matches, when played between Blackburn and Burnley are known as "el Lanclassico". Probably only by a few local journalists on the sports pages, though (as and when that derby is part of the fixture list). And why anyone would use the term the "Cotton Mills Derby" for the game between Blackburn and Burnley is a mystery as the Lancashire mills were devastated by the availability of cheaper products from India and the far east throughout the 20th Century and now hardly exist.

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, but the sort of football nicknames you imagine would have been used by John Motson when commenting on FA Cup games, are sometimes even used by the clubs' own websites! Lincoln City's (club podcast: "We are Imps") website gives its team results, for example "9th March 2024: Barnsley 1 Imps 5". And for good measure the Northampton Town website refers to an Open Forum Report meeting hosted by the "It's All Cobblers To Me" Podcast at the Sixfields ground.

To those of us who may hark back to older times, Blackburn Rovers won the 3rd ever Premier League title (1994-95) and Leicester City won it in 2015-16 - they are the only 2 Premier League winners no longer in the EPL. So at least this Saturday's opponents once offered a fleeting glimpse of what the world of English foootball might look like if the Big City Clubs occasionally took their eyes off the ball. Out of the 31 completed seasons so far those Big Beasts of Manchester United (with 13), Manchester City (7 and counting), Chelsea (5) and Arsenal (3 wins, but "hopeful") have won the title 28 times out of the 31, with the only winner not so far mentioned being Liverpool with a measly one (so, maybe not such Big Beasts from Merseyside after all?). At least Blackburn has climbed to the top of football's highest peak but at present the Lancashire team lies 18th in the Championship and therefore rather further away from repeating that past glory than BORO (currently in 9th position in the Championship).

It feels almost like going back into pre-history, but the heyday of Blackburn Rovers was, in fact, long before SkyTV and its EPL coverage was even a glint in John Logie Baird's eye. Founded a year before Middlesbrough, Blackburn Rovers won the FA Cup in 1884, 1885, 1886 (I wonder if they were allowed to keep the trophy?), 1890 and 1891, and then again for the 6th time in 1928. The team also won the League title in 1911-12 and 1913-14 so clearly Blackburn Rovers was a giant of a club in the early decades of English football. To fast-forward through several decades, however, after winning the Premier League title in 1994-95 (referred to in the previous paragraph) Blackburn was relegated 4 seasons later, promoted again to the Premier League in 2000-01 and won the League Cup in 2002 but were then relegated to the Championship again in 2012 and then further relegated to Division One (the third tier) in 2017. Although promoted back to the Championship the following year (2017-18) where the team remains, it will be seen that in recent decades Blackburn has had quite a few "downs" to go with the historic "ups".

We all know BORO's form - set out in the Starter I posted a few days ago for the Birmingham match, to which we only need add that game's result (a 0-1 BORO away win!) - but Blackburn's form has been almost beneath the Earth's crust in recent weeks. The last league games for Blackburn were:

20th Feb      Cardiff 0-0 Blackburn
24th Feb      B'burn 1-1 Norwich
2nd March   Swans 2-1 B'burn
5th March   B'burn 1-1 Millwall
13th March  B'burn 1-1 Plymouth

SO in summary - W0, D 4, L1. Blackburn: the Draw specialists. Four points out of the last 15 on offer. You'd think that was hardly a haul sufficient to put the fear of God into Boro's management, players or supporters, but you wonder whether a draw has already been pre-ordained for this match.

Blackburn's place in popular music may well be secured by those Lennon & McCartney lines, but does its team have 4,000 holes in its defence, for BORO to exploit? A quick check with the tables shows that from 37 games the Lancashire team has scored only 42 but has conceded the full Heinz quotient of 57 league goals so far, and the team lies 18th in The Championship with 41 points. Rovers fans are currently looking anxiously over the shoulder to teams at the bottom, being only 3 points ahead of 2nd bottom Sheffield Wednesday (the long "already-destined-to-relegation" club now on 38 points). BORO on the other hand, with the help of the 0-1 win at Birmingham last night, has scored 53 and conceded 52. We are in positive goal difference territory! And currently boasting 9th place in the table with 53 points.

After 3 successive wins, I think we might be venturing tentatively into @OFB's foam-handed territory of 3 points and 3 goals scored. If that were to become a reality on Saturday, I think we could guarantee that A Day In The Life of your average Diasborian would be deliriously happy, however many potholes he could find in the road. Frankly 1-0 would do the job although it would be nice if OFB's favourite score line offered BORO a comfortable safety margin in the 2nd half for once. Let's see what you think....

 

Forever Dormo      13.03.24


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Forever Dormo, thank you for another excellent opener but could I correct you on one small point, it will be Boro’s 3rd game in 7 days (QPR Sat 9 Mar, Birmingham Tue 12 Mar, Blackburn Sat 16 Mar) when Boro played Birmingham it was their 3rd match in 6 days (Norwich Wed 6 Mar, QPR Sat 9 Mar, Birmingham Tue 12 Mar) so if any of the Boro players were looking a bit tired towards the end of last night’s match it is understandable. By the end of the home game with Blackburn, it will have been 4 games in 10 days and it is also worth noting that Howson and Lath have just returned from injury, McGree himself is still trying to get back to 100% after long time out, at least the players will have least 3/4 days rest before facing Blackburn, then they will be grateful for the international break.

Come on BORO.


jarkko
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I read the news today, oh boy

4 000 words above about Blackburn

And though the words were rather nice

We had to count them all

Now we know how many goals it takes to fill the Riverside

I'd love to turn you on

Fantastic starter, Dormo. From the Beatles to early days of football. And another team managed by the great Mowbray - our Mogga. Thanks for the words, Ray.

 

Up the Boro

This post was modified 2 months ago by jarkko

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Forever Dormo,

Thanks for that read, lovely stuff. Although your itemising of Blackburn's current form sent a shiver began to suggest a 'Typical Boro' scenario to me. Perish the thought. Some lovely references though, well done.

Best wishes to everyone.

UTB,

John 

PS Didn't Billy Shears play for Blackburn or am I getting mixed up with Alan Shearer? Another for those lovers of that LP.


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Just watched Bournemouth v Luton, Luton dominated the first half scoring 3 goals to lead at halftime but the second half Bournemouth scored 4 to win 4-3, what a game.

Come on BORO.


   
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@exmil - If Boro got to Half-Time 3-0 up against Blackburn Rovers, I'd be more than devastated to lose the game.


   
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Forever Dormo

A great opening post (again!)

Have you ever thought about doing this full time. Oh sorry you have been doing it full time !

Seriously many thanks another well written and informative post and yes my forecast for this game is …….

 

Boro3 the rest 0

 

OFB


   
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Martin Bellamy
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@forever-dormo A well composed starter about an area I know pretty well from my days living on the dark side. 
I’ve been to Ewood Park on several occasions, both to watch Boro (my memory is struggling to remember many wins, although I was there when Juninho accidentally broke Graham Le Saux’s leg), and as a corporate guest of Royal & Sun Alliance who had a box there. 
They’ve always struggled to fill the ground, maybe because they’re so close to so many other clubs, with the draw of Premiership club’s just a little south. 
I’m going for a 2-0 win, which will probably bring Typical Boro to the yard. 


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@original-fat-bob - I knew you wouldn't disappoint on the  "BORO 3" front!


   
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@martin-bellamy -  I would certainly take a 2-0 win.  That would be four wins on the trot and suddenly the world is our oyster.  Yet only a few weeks ago we were all doom-and-gloom!   Football supporters, eh?


   
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Another great opener FD and exactly what we have come to expect from you et al, all of whom have the intellect and bravery to take up the challenge of Leader writing for which we are ever grateful. 

A win, any win will do for me but I am just a bit wary that no matter where Blackburn are in the league we often manage to come a cropper against them; not this Saturday please, as I would like to enjoy the international break basking in the glow of four wins on the bounce which must be some sort of Boro record if we manage it. 😎


   
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jarkko
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Posted by: @forever-dormo

@martin-bellamy -  I would certainly take a 2-0 win.  That would be four wins on the trot and suddenly the world is our oyster.  Yet only a few weeks ago we were all doom-and-gloom!   Football supporters, eh?

I just hope Howson, O'Brien, McGree and Latte Lath will keep fit until the summer! If they keep fit, they will get fitter and more dangerous attacking wise by every match.

Marcus Forss was chosen to play for Finland at Wales in an Euro Championship Qualifier. If Finland won in Wales, there will be another qualifying match in Helsinki against winners of Poland vs. Estonia, too.

Fingers crosses that Forss will come back to Boro without any injuries. 

I hope Finland and Estonia will play against each other - both countries have the same National Anthem but different words. Estonian is the only language related to ours (+ Hungarian very, very distantly). So it would be a family derby with our neighboring country.

Up the Boro! 

 

This post was modified 2 months ago by jarkko

   
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jarkko
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Our next game after the International break is on Friday 29th March. Then we will play at Southampton at 15:00 GMT. I wonder if Marcus Forss will be available for the match, though.

After the Wales match, Finland will play again on Tuesday 26th March. The home match in Helsinki will be against Poland or Estonia. The match will be played as a qualifier or a practice match depending on the result at Wales and Poland a few days before.

So Marcus Forss will travel back from Helsinki on Wednesday. So he will be available at Southampton on Friday. But there is no time to train at Boro as I presume Boro will travel down to Sounthampton on Thursday already.

Up the Boro!


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You will all have had to take steps to renew Season Tickets by that (Southampton game) weekend, if it is intended to take advantage of the extended Early Bird window. Not sure whether it extends now to 29th or 30th March but I'd do it a few days or so early in case there are any technical glitches, which there sometimes are when I and IT mix.  It's usuallly "hold your breath that this works...."  At least if there is a problem, I could nip to the Ticket Office in person.

Come on, Wales!  (He He!!).

This post was modified 2 months ago by Forever Dormo

   
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Clive Hurren
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Another amazing starter, Dormo! 

Can I tentatively correct some statistics ? FootyStats appears to suggest that Rovers have scored 51 league goals this season and that they have conceded 64. That would account for their -13 goal difference. 

I think this game could be a potential banana skin, and maybe a more challenging game than we might be led to believe by the form tables. Rovers may be short of points and wins, but they do have John Eustace. He was doing a brilliant job at Birmingham before the idiot owners sacked him and brought in Rooney. He started off well at Blackburn, too, and I suspect he will have made them more solid. And they do have their secret weapon, Sammy Szmodics, who has scored nearly half of their goals - a total of 21 in the League and 6 more in the Cups. He must be in contention for the golden boot. 

Let’s not forget, too, that Rovers took the Toon to penalties in their FA Cup 5th round game. They certainly gave the Barcodes a nasty fright. 

We’ve won 3 on the bounce, of course, but we weren’t at all convincing against Norwich or Birmingham. Tiredness may be affecting some of the lads, I suspect, with some still getting back to full fitness, and Carrick may be tempted to freshen it up. I hope, if he does, that that won’t mean a reversion to 4 at the back. I also hope he gives Isaiah a run-out. 

The form guide says we should win this, on paper. But we haven’t been able to rely on our home form this year, and I’m not convinced that the Norwich win necessarily proves we’ve turned the corner. So Boro need to be wary and ruthless. My heart says we’ll win 2-1 or even 2-0; my head, on the other hand, wouldn’t be surprised by a draw. 


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@clive-hurren - It's a fair cop, Gov! I'd read it through a few times before pressing "send" but I guess my eyes were just glossing over the mistake so, the more I read, the less I saw!

This post was modified 2 months ago by Forever Dormo

   
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jarkko
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All three aussies were selected for their country. Up the Boro!


 


   
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Thanks Dormo for a brilliant and comprehensive opener, especially as it was composed at such short notice after your excellent Birmingham piece.

I'll go for a Boro win on Saturday.  Anything less would be a great disappointment. A win might even result in exmil having to think about sharpening his pencil for the run in.


Pedro de Espana
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@forever-dormo    Excellent Headliner delivered in a short term window. Well done and thank you for the time given.

No predictions as usual from me. I just hope that we "up" our performance level somewhat. Despite three wins in a row, we have not been convincing, more of a "grind a result out". As Clive posted, Szmodics could be a concern, so an extra defender in a back three may help. However the midfield really need to be on their toes.


Pedro de Espana
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@forever-dormo    I renewed my ST earlier this week. Have I already posted that. However in my small circle of known season ticket holders, around 7/8 have said they will definitely NOT renew. 

Almost to a one, they said they will pick and choose their games, depending if MC is still here, as some of the better players and a rather decent transfer window from MFC and Scott. 


   
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@jarkko 

I think that it is unlikely that the three would be able to start at Southampton. They play on the Tuesday night and would arrive back in the UK early Thursday morning after a 24 hour flight. 


   
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The closer we get to this game and the more reports I read the more nervous I am becoming as to the outcome.

Rovers have not won under Eustace after seven games, they have lost two and drawn five and have the leagues’ top scorer.  They have had a full week to recover and train whilst we had another gruelling game on Tuesday so what could go wrong! 

At the Riverside there have been 21 games between the sides with 6 wins to Boro, 8 to Blackburn and 7 draws, so the odds on a Boro win do not look favourable.

Hopefully I am being overly pessimistic and our run of wins will continue 🤞😎 CoB.

This post was modified 2 months ago by K P in Spain

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@lenmasterman and @pedro - Thank you, gentlemen. It's sort of fun doing the Starters but back in the day, when Werder, RedcarRed, Bob were doing them (or match reports) week after week, it must have been a bit of a chore for them!


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@k-p-in-spain - The question is: "How Untypical can BORO be?" You wouldn't put it beyond them, but maybe after 3 successive wins some self-belief might have begun to flow in the players' veins, despite rather than because of Rovers' recent lack-of-form...


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Who missed out AndyR...?


Pedro de Espana
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@forever-dormo     Yes, we have missed Andy recently and his thought provoking posts, whether you agree or not. I hope all is well with him.

What we do have here are sensible and professionally delivered posts. All good in their own way. It is also good that there are at times different views and approaches to the issues at hand. Variety is the spice off life!! Or different posts and views in our case.  😊


jarkko
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@forever-dormo, AndyR was here recently. He commented on the Birmingham match lead on Wednesday March 13, 2024 3:01 pm. So I think he is OK. Up the Boro!


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@jarkko - So he did!  And I read that post of his and liked it, as several others did.  I must be going around the bend... (When I typed that first, I said I must be going around the BED.  That would be something!  There is a wall only inches behind the headboard to my bed.  It would be a real struggle to get between them).


   
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It's almost Saturday again and another game is rapidly approaching. I said earlier about the portents for typical Boro to show up so I won't make myself all anxious and worried again, well no more than I already am.

I have a soft spot for Blackburn because of their strip, those blue and white halves are so distinctive but I've no doubt it will be a change strip tomorrow. I remember seeing it first on a bubble gum card and Brian Douglas was the player who was featured, a winger I believe. Then around that period Blackburn thrashed Boro by seven or eight goals so I went off them a little at that point, it must have been the late fifties or early sixties.

Anyway don't lose tomorrow Borro and don't concede.

I suppose it's the back of the couch again. Four in a row?

All the best everyone.

UTB,

John


   
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jarkko
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I have been to Ewood Park only once but I have never seen Blackburn playing there. I tavelled with my wife to the Blackburn-Boro match one boxing day via Manchester Airport. AV - our original blog master - was supposed to bring me tickets to the sold-out away end. Those tickets were arranged by Gary Gill I know after the late Ali Browlee had introduced me to Gary at Rockcliffe many moons ago.

Well the match was postponed while we were travelling from Finland. But we found it out only when we arrived to the empty stadium with a rental car. We had no plan B, so we spent the rainy Boxing Day in a hotel in Preston. It was very, very wet in Lancastershire.

Luckily we did see a couple of Boro matches later that week. What I saw of the town itself, I think it was much poorer than Middlesbrough as a town. But of course both towns - but especially Boro with North York(shire) Moors - have nicer surroundings. But still Middlesbrough wins hands down for me!

So again a match with a strong Mogga connection. I bet both sets of fans will chant Mogga's name together. At least the Blackburn fans - what is their nick name? - will have some nice memories after seeing a 3-0 defeat for their favourite team today.

Up the Boro!


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