Wild and bitter for the Rovers faithful

Dave Hadfield joins the Blackburn fans for a tense night in the Fox and Hounds
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The Independent Online
The mood in the Fox and Hounds changed abruptly at twenty to ten last night.

Until then, if you were not wearing a Blackburn Rovers shirt and jumping and down in jubilation, you were probably trying to interview someone who was.

Rolling East Lancashire accents marched in with the Saints. "I want to be in that number-r-r- r," they sang. Blackburn have had some good things from Southampton, Alan Shearer and Tim Flowers notable among them. While Simon Charlton might not rank alongside them, he was every bit as worthy of beatification as, say, Jeff Kenna when he headed Saints into their early lead and the entire clientele of the Fox and Hounds hit the ceiling.

Even after United's equaliser they were still claiming the Premiership, belting out with gusto verses of "Hand it over, Manchester-r-r-r."

Then in went United's winning penalty and Blackburn, at the very best, will have to extend their 81-year wait for the title until they go to Anfield, of all places, on Sunday.

"We've been bloody cheated all season," they claimed with some conviction. I don't know how the penalty looked at Old Trafford but, in a pub within a long free-kick of Ewood Park, it constituted an outrage.

It had not been a relaxing evening for Blackburn Rovers supporters. If they were not biting what was left of their fingernails after Monday's victory over Newcastle United, then they were having their view of the TV blocked by camera crews filming them watching it.

In the absence of the Blue and White supporters' club, a utilitarian prefabricated, pre-Jack Walker structure across the road that has not yet invested in Sky TV, the Fox and Hounds was the epicentre of Premiership fever last night.

"I've come here from Tasmania, which is the last stop before the Antarctic, to see Blackburn win the title," said David Elliott, who emigrated 25 years ago. He was planning to phone his father, Jack, in Hobart with the good news, when there was some good news to report.

"He was at the 1928 Cup final when we won it, with his father, who watched them in 1914, when we last won the title," he said.

A middle-aged man in a blue and white wig, universally known as Birdy, was predicting a day off work today if Southampton had hung on.

Now he will be wheeling his hospital trolley as usual and, while the dark mild was going down a treat, the champagne is still on ice.

"We are top and we're staying there," they sang at the Fox and Hounds, but it was not quite the VE Day celebration -Victory at Ewood - that they had come there for. And Dave from Tasmania doesn't even have a ticket for Anfield.

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