by Trevor Freeman
With the San Francisco 49ers out of the playoff hunt in October for another season and college basketball still a couple weeks away, I figured it was time to talk about my newest sporting love. The Blackburn Rovers. That’s right, not only have I not written for our site for over a month, but when I do I am hopping in on the topic of English Premier League Football. I have officially shifted gears to become the Vinnie Chase of our site. I am only writing articles that satisfy my own creative/sports needs.
Now I know the question is going to be asked, how did you settle on the Blackburn Rovers again? When did this happen? Why wouldn’t you pick Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea? To recap, these were the four main factors when I became a Rovers fan.
- Blackburn has an American playing a key role. Brad Friedel is Blackburn’s goalie and is probably one of the five best in the Premiership. Friedel was electrifying yesterday against Tottenham.
- They aren’t a big-money team. There is nothing more aggravating than foreigners moving to America and instantly becoming New York Yankees fans. I’m not going to be “that guy” and hop on the bandwagon of a team like that. I want a blue-collar team with no money that has a history of being a little chippy. Blackburn fits that role perfectly. If Billy Beane had an English accent, he would be Mark Hughes.
- History. The Rovers have won 7 FA Cups. They are also one of only four teams to win the Premiership since it became the Premiership with the other three teams being Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.
- Most of all and this was a truly important determining factor. Their team name is the Rovers. Seeing as I was a huge fan of “Red Rover” when I was a child, I had no choice but to pick them. Just know that when I was five, and they yelled “Red Rover, Red Rover send Trevor right over” I was flying into the chain. Nobody took more people out than me on the schoolyard. I was like Ronnie Lott in his prime.
I begin with Mark Hughes being like Billy Beane and it is really amazing how similar they are. Ex-ballplayers who became in charge of their own group. An uncanny ability to pick guys up off the scrapheap and watch them turn into stars. This year while Liverpool was shelling out 20 million pounds for Fernando Torres and Tottenham was unloading 16.5 million pounds for Darren Bent, Blackburn quietly picked up Roque Santa Cruz for 3.5 million pounds. What that means is anybody could have had Roque Santa Cruz and they all took a pass. Meanwhile Santa Cruz has scored as many goals as Torres and three more than Bent. What makes this more impressive is that every single player on Blackburn was picked up on the cheap. Benni McCarthy and Christopher Samba were picked up for a total amount of 2.9 million pounds. David Bentley and Brad Friedel were basically given away by Arsenal and Liverpool respectively. Just like the Oakland A’s up until this season, Blackburn is a team that can overcome a collection of star-studded individuals.
After slowly building for this moment, my baby is all grown up and has won six straight games heading into the biggest two weeks of our season. The Rovers play Portsmouth in the Carling Cup, Liverpool at Ewood Park and then Manchester United at Old Trafford. The Carling Cup game is important as it would be a shame if this team did not get any silverware during this campaign. Blackburn won the Carling Cup in 2002 and it would be nice to take it back.
If the Rovers can get four points from their next two games, not only is finishing in the top four in the cards but we may be able sneak into that top spot. Our next twelve games after Manchester United while not easy are not too strenuous either. We play Fulham, Aston Villa, Newcastle United, West Ham United, Wigan, Chelsea, Manchester City, Derby County, Sunderland, Bolton, Middlesborough, and Aston Villa again. Now, I’m not saying the Rovers are going to do what their “SAS” predecessors did and get 34 out of 36 points in route to winning the Premiership. However, if the Rovers do not come away with at least 28 points I would be awfully surprised. That puts them in the top four. No doubt about it.
With the 49ers season over and college hoops not yet underway, my new passion has gripped me. I will join my English counterparts in drinking pints of Guinness at 10:00 in the morning on Saturday while wearing my Rovers home jersey. I will chant “Bentley for England” and bang on my table like a drum in unison with my brothers and sisters at Ewood Park. I will cringe every time a news report comes out that Mark Hughes is being linked with another job. And more importantly I will watch us beat Liverpool and solidify our top four spot on Saturday.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]