Football: The rebuilding of Blackburn has already begun

Richard Slater senses a renewed spirit pervading a stricken club

THE STRAINS OF Miles Davis's Kind Of Blue album were poignantly appropriate shortly after Blackburn Rovers were relegated from the Premiership on Wednesday. Just four years ago, the vapid bombast of Queen's "We Are The Champions" was the track of currency, heard incessantly, drunkenly, on the streets as the party wore on into the small hours.

The Davis classic, by contrast, carries the listener through a swathe of emotions. By turns it is sombre, mournful even, and yet, encouraged by Davis's sure grasp of the needs of the human spirit, there lingers above all else a sense of purpose and hope. That's jazz, and that's football.

There must have been many taking solace in music and a stiff drink as the impact of a desperate season finally manifested itself in the big drop. As the haze evaporated in the brief sunshine of Thursday morning those connected with the club, in whatever form, had, grudgingly, accepted their fate and were readying themselves for the next campaign.

It takes more than a few scathing words in the morning papers to put a proud institution off its stride and the galvanising effect of Brian Kidd's emotional outpourings on the need for commitment and dedication had struck a chord. Seamus Heffernan, co-founder and one-time editor of the Blackburn fanzine 4,000 Holes said: "There seems to be an attitude from some of the players that has departed violently from the traditional ethic of the small-town club. The sum should be greater than its parts, the team is the most important, the blue and white halves if you like - not the individuals who are a transient factor in the club's history."

Like many in the town, and particularly those with memories which predate the Walker-Dalglish era, fans who, even in this inglorious season, pinched themselves at the prospect of a match against Manchester United, Liverpool or Arsenal, Heffernan is saddened but not despairing. "We have young players like David Dunn and Damian Johnson who look as though they are prepared to die for the club, and that's what we need. Players can have all the ability in the world and the money that goes with it, but if they lack commitment to the cause they're in the wrong place."

Jason Wilcox, the captain and the only player to have taken part on championship day in 1995, added: "It's a nightmare to go down but I want to play for Blackburn Rovers next season and if there are others who aren't so sure, or aren't up for the fight, we'd be better off without them."

The former England skipper Ronnie Clayton was captain last time the team was relegated from the top-flight in 1966. He said: "It hurt me so much both times, I've barely slept this week and I keep waking up replaying moments of this season in my head. We lost great players in my time after relegation and I suppose the same will happen again but we've a fantastic set-up for the youngsters who have really started to shine, and if they can show the kind of spirit some of the senior players couldn't manage then we will be back up soon."

Kidd reiterated his rallying cry before today's match against Newcastle, his view having changed not a jot since he first publicly launched his attack on certain players. Indeed, he went further and, clearly sickened by the actions of a professional, castigated the pounds 7m forward Kevin Davies for breaking club rules by spending an evening in a Preston night club just two days before the Manchester United fixture, a soiree the supporters could barely stomach.

The talk now is of an immediate return. Jack Walker has demanded it and, despite a predicted loss of pounds 10m in income next season, the chief executive John Williams is, like all who have a care for the club, readying himself for the campaign. "Jack Walker has made resources available for Brian but, as the manager says, it's not all about money," he said. Heffernan concurred: "It may not always be enough, but we're a proud town and we want to hold our heads up high."

l Richard Slater was born in Blackburn in 1966, the year Rovers were last relegated from the top flight. He lives two miles from Ewood Park.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
Sport
Lewis Hamtilon and pole-sitter Nico Rosberg
SportShould F1's most aggressive driver curb his instincts in title decider?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin