Former Burnley favourite Graham Alexander excited by local derbies — with Preston, Blackpool and Blackburn Rovers housed in the Championship

Graham Alexander would love to be a fly on the wall when Burnley, Preston, Blackpool and Blackburn Rovers occupy the same division next season.

By Dan Black
Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 2:34 pm

The Lancashire quartet will compete at the same level for the first time in more than 60 years after the Clarets' six-year stay in the Premier League came to an end.

The former Burnley captain, who experienced his first and only taste of Premier League football during his time at Turf Moor, enjoyed the blood and thunder of local derbies as a player, and he believes next season's nuance will add extra spice to the Championship.

"I always loved the derby games and I think most players do. The football sometimes gets put to the side and it becomes more of a battle," said the 50-year-old former spot kick specialist. "Whoever got the result got a real step up on their direct rivals.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - MARCH 28: El-Hadji Diouf of Blackburn battles with Graham Alexander of Burnley during the Barclays Premier League match between Burnley and Blackburn Rovers at Turf Moor on March 28, 2010 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

"If players want to play in atmospheres that are electric, aggressive and loud then that's what you get with derby games. It added an edge to them. I think it's only a positive that the area is a hotbed for traditional football clubs that have got rich histories.

"It would be great if they were all playing in the Premier League, but the Championship is a brilliant division, it's really strong and competitive, and some of the games you play in, and the stadiums you play at, are brilliant. There are massive clubs at that level and the fans will really look forward to those games."

The last time all four clubs were in the same division was way back in the 1960/61 term — the season after Harry Potts’ Burnley had been crowned champions of England for the second time.

Burnley finished fourth in the First Division that year with Blackburn in eighth and Blackpool 20th.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - MAY 09: Graham Alexander of Burnley in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on May 09, 2010 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Preston, however, were relegated that season, their first without Sir Tom Finney, and the four clubs have never reconvened since.

Wigan Athletic's promotion as champions from League One will also add to the excitement of the 2022-23 campaign.

Alexander featured in games against Burnley, Blackpool and the Latics in 1999-00 when North End climbed out of Division Two.

The Clarets — who went up as runners up on the final day of term — Rovers and Bolton Wanderers were then awaiting David Moyes' men in the Championship.

Alexander said: "I remember when I played for Preston it was Burnley and Wigan competing at the top end of the table.

"Preston and Burnley finished first and second and Wigan ended up in the play-offs. That was when Dave Whelan took over and put a lot of money into the club.

"I remember those games and they were massive and some of them were season-defining because we were competing against each other.

"That then went into the Championship when Blackburn Rovers were in there. They were all there or thereabouts."