Tuesday, May 15, 2007

And the winner is...Blackburn Rovers

It was the Blackburn Rovers player of the year dinner at Ewood last night, the first of three awards events I've got on this week - environment awards tomorrow, which I'm hosting, then the enormous Insider Property Awards North West on Thursday at Manchester Central.

It was a great do with a wonderful buzz around the room and a great togetherness between the players themselves and with the fans who were there. The awards were compered by another milkman's son from Lancaster - Graham Liver, currently talking for a living on BBC Radio Leeds - and the whole show was very slickly put together. After a fairly sour experience at the event four years ago when the manager didn't even turn up to what was a glorified pub quiz I was initially reluctant to bother. But my pal Stephen Ashworth told me it would be worth a trip out and that this was one of the many things have changed under Mark Hughes, who he knows well.

ALL the players were there, all the directors, all the coaching staff and no-one was showing any attitude or swaggering about like Charlie Big Potatoes. They seem a very close group. The awards went to David Bentley (fans player of the year), Benni McCarthy (players player and goal of the season), Christopher Samba (new lad), Matt Derbyshire (young player), Brett Emerton (contributor), Brad Friedel (performance) and to accompany news of his new contract extension - Tugay (most man of the match awards).

We had a good chat to the gaffer. The Intertoto holds no fear for him, it's part of the pre-season preparations.

There's talk around the room of new investors coming in. The Walker Trust can't keep a hand in forever, though I sort of thought that's what Jack Walker wanted. There are high hopes that a proper local consortium would be formed to buy the club, but while there is foreign interest in football the trustees will talk to willing buyers. It can be an exciting future, there is something special and refreshing about the club again.

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