Known as Ewood Bridge in its formative years, plenty of sporting history surrounds Blackburn Rovers’ home dating all the way back to the late 19th century.
Built and opened in 1882, the stadium became a multi-use venue by hosting dog racing and athletics meets, while the club played a number of matches there before moving in permanently in 1890, purchasing the freehold for £2,500 three years down the line.
We are all too often reminded of the stadium disasters English football has suffered and just a few short years after Rovers arrived, a large proportion of the stadium collapsed under the weight of a 20,000-strong crowd for a fixture against Everton. Fortunately, there was no loss of life, but the incident provided a wake-up call and the club soon called in Ibrox architect Archibald Leitch to design the sturdy Nuttall Street Stand.
As one would imagine, various repairs, extensions and redevelopments occurred in the 100 years that followed, before Walkersteel owner and lifelong Rovers fan Jack Walker took control of the club in 1991. The businessman’s visions were impressive, and he certainly delivered on his promises.
Plans to develop the ground were raised in 1992. Less than two years later, the modern Blackburn and Darwen End Stands were unveiled. In August 1994, the Jack Walker Stand followed. The remaining stand – The Riverside – is the only stand that was constructed pre-1994. Walker still played a significant role in the realisation of those plans due to a generous donation of building materials prior to his permanent involvement in the club. To cap an extraordinary period, Kenny Dalglish led the club to an unprecedented Premier League title in 1995.
Saturday’s fixture will be just the 11th league meeting between the two clubs since 1953. The Bees have won four of the previous league meetings but have also lost the last three meetings, the latest of which came on 7 May 2017 when Lasse Vibe scored a consolation goal in a 3-1 defeat at Griffin Park.
Tickets are available to purchase at Ewood Park on the day and prices are as follows: Adults (22-64) £27, Seniors (65+) £20, Young Persons (18-21) £14, Juniors (12-17) £9, Juniors (U12) £7.
Did you know?
Blackburn were founder members of both The Football League and The Premier League and, after moving to the stadium permanently in 1890, the club have exclusively remained at the Ewood Park site ever since.
How to get there:
With the majority of Brentford fans travelling from the south, the following directions will aid you in your journey north tomorrow. Take the M40 out of London and join the M6 just north of Birmingham. Exit at junction 29, before joining the M65 towards Blackburn. Leave the M65 at Junction 4 (A666) and follow signs towards Blackburn. Turn right at the first set of traffic lights and Ewood Park is about one mile down the road on the right-hand side. There are three car parks at the stadium - pre-booking is advised – but as is the case with many away trips, various industrial units offer private parking at a cost of around £5.
With a five-hour train journey costing close to £100 for an adult, coupled with engineering works and strikes affecting journies, rail travel may not be the best option for many fans travelling from the south on this occasion. For the most up-to-date information visit nationalrail.com
Where to eat/drink:
Having been the home of the club for well over 100 years, Ewood Park doesn’t have the feel of a modern retail park-based stadium, though it isn’t situated right in the heart of Blackburn. As such, there are quite a number of pubs within walking distance of the ground that permit away fans on matchdays.
As was the case with The Harvester next to the bet365 Stadium earlier this month, The Fernhurst is a Hungry Horse pub – just five minutes from the ground, on Bolton Road – where all fans are permitted. The place does get busy due to its close proximity to the ground, though, and a vocal atmosphere will not be welcome, by all accounts. Uncle Jack’s on Branch Road is another option within ten minutes of the stadium, while The Golden Cup and The Black Bull also allow away supporters to enjoy a drink or two prior to kick-off. The pies at the former are worth a try and the latter offers panoramic views of the Lancashire countryside.
Supporters who visited Sunderland’s Stadium of Light last season may have seen the FanZone outside the stadium. Blackburn are another EFL club who have taken steps to develop a contemporary matchday experience for fans by installing one next to Ewood Park. Just a few steps away from the stadium itself, the area features a variety of food outlets, large screens to watch live games both pre and post-match as well as activities, including a penalty shootout game that has proved a hit in the past. The FanZone permits both home and away fans and is located at the rear of the stadium’s Darwen End.
Slightly further afield is the Postal Order, a Wetherspoons pub close to Blackburn railway station, which is a half-hour walk from the ground. If you continue beyond Ewood Park from the station, the Anchor Hotel on one side of the M65 is another preferred haunt of away fans past and present.
Tickets for Saturday's trip to Ewood Park go off sale at 2pm today. Get your tickets to help Dean and the boys maintain our unbeaten start.