New book about long standing rivalry between Clarets and Blackburn Rovers is a 'must read' / Dave Thomas column

When I got a phone call from Legends Publishing to ask, did I mind if they used the title No Nay Never for their new book about Rovers versus Burnley games, I said not at all. Feel free, use it.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 12:30 pm
A new book about the rivalry between Burnley and Blackburn Rovers is an 'absolute gem' according to our columnist Dave Thomas

In case you’re wondering, it was already the title of a couple of earlier books No Nay Never Volumes One

and Two.

What I didn’t say was, why on earth is there another book about Rovers versus Burnley?

There were already two that I knew of. Surely, we don’t need another? Does the author of the new one even

know that there are already books about this?

Not to worry I thought, now't to do with me, and being of a 'can I have one for nothing nature?', I asked

would they send me a complimentary copy for my kindness. All that was some months ago and I thought no more about it.

Until boomf, with a resounding thud a large parcel landed on the mat and the postman had nearly wrecked the letter box, forcing it through. Anyway, how glad I was that this new book had arrived, when I opened up the cardboard wrapping.

In just four words… it is a gem. An absolute gem.

It weighs a ton. There are nearly 500 pages. The detail is incredible. The pictures are superb. Some pictures leave me thinking just where did you find that one? The number of interviews with 24 ex-players, is staggering.

Somewhere, I think Michael Hodkinson says it took him two years to write. I’m not surprised.

For me, a book takes one year from start to publication, and that’s long enough before it changes from a labour of love to a labour of drudgery.

It didn’t help that covid meant every interview was over the phone. Phone interviews are no fun.

Give me a breakfast at Tubbs restaurant in Colne and face to face meetings, every time.

Time was when fans of different allegiances could mingle and mix on the terraces without bother. In recent years it has taken convoys of buses and armed police to separate the two tribes. It’s sad that it has got like this.

Hodkinson is a Rovers fan with over 70 years of following them, yet interestingly worked at BFC for a number of years some 20 years ago. So, this is a book that is balanced and neutral. He goes right back to the early days starting with 1875 to 1888. It surely must have pained him to write the concluding chapters where Rovers start their decline from the Walker years to the chaos of the Venky years.

And: as Rovers sank, Burnley surfaced.

Rover’s recent 0-7 defeat at home to Fulham in front of a paltry crowd, had Burnley fans crowing. Rover’s fans and Hodkinson must have been in despair.

Serves them right, I hear you say, for all the years they spent crowing at us as we flopped and flounced around like a rudderless ship, whilst they looked down their noses at us from the Premier League.

Now, it is the other way round.

One thing, of course, that we can always claim is that the years of Rovers success were ‘bought.’

They had the Walker millions whilst we had precious little. But, on the other hand, our success was hand crafted and ‘earned.’ We never had a sugar daddy that could buy and pay the biggest name players, and you could suggest that even now, with the American owners, there is no bottomless pit of cash such as Newcastle now have, and Manchester City, for years.

So, it’s a many-paged book, immense in its detail, beautifully presented, with a section of statistics at the end that says that we have played a total of 90 league games since 1888. Rovers have won 38 and we have won 36.

Almost even. In the League Cup it is one win apiece, and in the FA Cup it is seven wins apiece. In the ancient Test Matches, it is two wins apiece.

It is a hefty price at £24.99 but then it is a helluva book. From Burnley FC Club shop and Amazon.