Football Commentator & Columnist
Blackburn Rovers: Martin Tyler shares his memories of commentating at Ewood Park
A slippery ladder and avoiding balls being smashed in your direction by Alan Shearer
Last Updated: 25/05/20 7:45am
At a time when football grounds have closed their doors, we've asked Martin Tyler to share some of his favourite facts and memories of the homes of clubs around the world.
This week, Sky Sports' Voice of Football is looking at some grounds at clubs that used to be in the Premier League. Today, he takes us on a trip to Blackburn's Ewood Park.
Keep an eye on The Football Show on Sky Sports News and @SkySportsPL for some special Tyler's Teasers from Martin.
How I travel there
It's not a short trip for me, but there were particularly enjoyable times when on the return journey I had the company of Ray Harford, Blackburn coach and later manager, in the early Premier League years.
Ray's home in Surrey was only 10 minutes from mine and Tyler's Taxi happily gave him a direct route back to his family.
What it's like to commentate there
The original gantry on the dressing-room side could only be reached by a ladder on the outside of the Main Stand. It was not an easy climb and fans arriving on the street below often recognised that when looking up and were not shy about letting you know they were watching!
I learned to act confidently even when I was not so sure-footed, particularly on wintry days when the rungs were very slippery.
As Ewood Park was redeveloped the position changed almost season to season, on both sides of the ground. The present television position is now opposite the main tunnel in the Riverside Stand.
In Blackburn's great spell in the early Premier League years the commentators were, for a time, perched on scaffolding right by the touchline. What is now the Jack Walker Stand was under construction and was empty. The platform offered a great view of the game for the commentators, but in the warm-up gave the players a great view of us.
Alan Shearer and others would smash footballs at Andy Gray and myself, playfully… I think!
Emirates Stadium | Villa Park | Vitality Stadium | Amex Stadium | Turf Moor | Stamford Bridge | Selhurst Park | Goodison Park | King Power Stadium | Anfield | Etihad Stadium | Old Trafford | St James' Park | Carrow Road | Bramall Lane | St Mary's | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium | Vicarage Road | London Stadium | Molineux
Did you know?
At the outbreak of the First World War, the capacity of Ewood Park was claimed to be just over 70,000 though the highest recorded attendance is 62,522 for a quarter-final of the FA Cup in 1929 against local rivals Bolton Wanderers.
My memories of the ground
I was perched on the scaffolding mentioned above in April 1994 and survived the pre-match pot-shots from Mr Shearer, but in the match that followed Manchester United were less fortunate. These were the top two teams in the Premier League and the Sunday afternoon fixture was billed as a tea-time title decider.
A United win at Ewood Park would have effectively kept the trophy at Old Trafford at the end of the campaign, only the second season since the restructuring of top-level English football. Shearer was very much the focus of the talk before the game. He had not scored a league goal against United even though he was becoming prolific against almost every other club he faced.
That run continued throughout an entertaining, but goalless, first half, but it all changed in the early moments of the second period. Attacking the Darwen End, Blackburn found a way past the redoubtable Bruce-Pallister defence and the goalkeeping class of Peter Schmeichel.
Tim Sherwood caught out United with a first-time clipped cross which found Blackburn's dangerman just beyond the far post. The earliness of the delivery was the key and Shearer was free to head perfectly back across Schmeichel, a special goal for Rovers and the scorer himself.
I remember Tim Flowers at the other end spectacularly stopping Andrei Kanchelskis from copying that famous Marco Van Basten volleyed goal from the final of Euro 1988. Paul Ince, later to manage at Ewood Park, hit a post but it was Shearer's day.
He struck his 32nd goal of the season thanks to another early ball, this time from Stuart Ripley from inside his own half. Alan had isolated Gary Pallister, then won a trial of strength against a very good defender and slammed in the match-clinching second.
Rovers won the points but they had to wait another season before they overcame United and the rest to become Premier League champions. That afternoon certainly gave the country an indication of what was to come.
What I like about this ground
Blackburn is a town with a population of not much over 100,000 but it has a football club steeped in history. As Rovers' home since the 19th century, Ewood Park is a constant reminder of their extraordinary achievement.