Blackburn Rovers: Trophy Winning Managers

Though I rightly deslike much of the shameful anti-English racism and antagonism that eminates from some people north of the border, there can be no doubt that the Scot's have contributed massively to the English game.


Indeed, where would we be without them?


From Busby and Ferguson at Manchester United; Shankly and Dalglish at Liverpool, George Graham who laid the foundations for Arsen Wenger at Arsenal or Mitchell and Dalglish at Blackburn Rovers; the contribution of Scottish players, coaches and managers to our national game has been immense.


I've alsways liked Scottish players and managers; they have a no nonsense approach, play with grit and determination and speak with real passion.


I often say, the English may have invented football, but the Scottish taught them how to play it.

Thomas Brown Mitchell. (Scotland)

Name: Thomas Brown Mitchell 

Date of Birth: c. 1843

Date of Death: August 1921

Place of Birth: Dumfries, Scotland

Nationality: Scottish


Blackburn Rovers career

Manager for Blackburn Rovers: 1884-1896

Honours: FA Cup winner 1884, 1885, 1886, 1890, 1891


Thomas Mitchell was born in Kirkmahoe a few miles to the North of Dumfries in 1843. He moved to Blackburn in 1867 and as a well respected referee became the first man to officiate at football matches in each of Scotland, England, Ireland & Wales.


In 1884 Mitchell became Manager / Secretary of Blackburn Rovers, the year of Rovers’ first FA Cup victory. 


What is unclear is whether or not he was in the manager’s post in time for Rovers’ 2-1 final victory (even Blackburn Rovers F.C. Historian Derek Jones, is unable to confirm).


However, I have arbitarily chosen chosen to honour Mitchell with being Rovers manager for the 1884 FA Cup Final victory.


The victory provided the spur for Rovers to go on to become the dominant club of the two Blackburn rivals, The other being Blackburn Olympic who went defunct in September 1889).


With 5 FA Cups, he remains the most successful major trophy winner in the history of Blackburn Rovers.


With the advent of professionalism and clubs needing higher income to cover the additional player costs, in 1888 Aston Villa director William McGregor proposed that prominent clubs should meet both home and away in order to increase gate revenue. Mitchell favoured the suggestion and played a significant role in the formation of England’s Football League.


12 years after joining Blackburn Rovers, Mitchell resigned in October 1896. The effect appeared immediate as the club finished the season in 14th place. The following season only League expansion saved Rovers from relegation.


Mitchell took up a new post with Woolwich Arsenal as the London side were then named (they relocated across the Thames to North London in 1913 and were renamed as “Arsenal” the year after). Mitchell thus became the first professional manager of what is now Arsenal FC. However his stay in Woolwich was short and he resigned on 10th March 1897.



Mitchell later returned to Blackburn Rovers. He died in Blackburn in 1921, aged 78.
His coffin was carried by four of his ex FA Cup winning players, Herbert Fecitt, Johnny Forbes, James Forrest and Nathan Walton.

Bob Crompton. (England)

Name: Bob Crompton 

Date of Birth: 26 September 1879

Date of Death: 16 March 1941

Place of Birth: Blackburn, Lancashire, England

Nationality: English


Blackburn Rovers career

Played for Blackburn Rovers: 1896 - 1920

Number of Appearences: 530

Playing Position: Right Full Back

Number of Goals: 14

Honours: Blackburn Rovers Captain and Division 1 Champions 1911-1912, 1913-1914


Bob Crompton  spent the entirety of his career with his hometown club, Blackburn Rovers. 


In 1921 Crompton was invited to become a director of the club. In 1926 he was appointed as manager. He began to build a team around star players, Henry Healless, Jack Roscamp and Syd Puddefoot.

This brought a change in the fortunes of the club and they did very well in the FA Cup in the 1927-28 season. Blackburn beat Newcastle United (4-1), Exeter City (3-1), Port Vale (2-1), Manchester United (2-0), Arsenal(1-0) to reach the final at Wembley. Puddefoot and Roscamp both scored four goals in the earlier rounds. Roscamp scored two more in Blackburn's 3-1 victory over Huddersfield Town.

Blackburn also did well in the First Division of the Football League: 1928-29 (7th), 1929-30 (6th) and 1930-31 (10th). Crompton retired as manager in 1931. However Blackburn Rovers struggled without Crompton and in the 1935-36 they were relegated. After two seasons in the Second Division, Crompton agreed to takeover again as manager. In his first season (1938-39) Blackburn won the Second Division championship.

The Football League was abandoned during the Second World War. The government imposed a fifty mile travelling limit and the Football League divided all the clubs into seven regional areas where games could take place. Blackburn Rovers became a member of the North West Regional League.

Management career

Managed Blackburn Rovers: 1926-1931 and 1938-1941

Honours as Blackburn Rovers Manager: FA Cup 1928; Division 2 Champions, 1938-1939.



Crompton had a heart attack in 1941 while watching Blackburn Rovers play hated rivals Burnley, while he was still in charge of Blackburn. His team had just won the match 3-2. He died that evening.

Robert Middleton. (England)

Name: Robert Middleton 

Date of Birth: ?

Date of Death: ?

Place of Birth: ?

Nationality: English


Blackburn Rovers career

Honours: Division 1 Champions 1911-1912, 1913-1914


Robert Middleton worked as a schoolteacher before becoming secretary/manager at Darwen. He also worked for Rotherham United andBlackpool before joining Blackburn Rovers in July 1903. He replaced Joseph Walmsley who had been accused by the Football Association of approachingEverton players about fixing a vital game against Blackburn.


Middleton purchased Bob Evans, a Welsh international goalkeeper, from Wrexham for £150. In November, 1903, Middleton also persuaded Fred Pentland, who had scored five goals in eight games for Blackpool, to join the club. Pentland scored seven goals in 18 league appearances, but his efforts could not stop Blackburn from being involved in another relegation struggle. The club eventually finished in 15th place in the league.


It was the same story the following season. Despite good individual performances from Bob Crompton, Adam Bowman, Bob Evans, Fred Blackburn, and Arnie Whittaker, Blackburn could only finish in 13th place. Bowman was the top scorer with 13 goals. In an article that appeared in the Blackburn Times a journalist wrote: "Like its two predecessors, the season of 1904-05 has been one of disgrace to the Rovers".


Lawrence Cotton, a local wealthy businessman, became chairman of Blackburn Rovers in March 1905. The following month Robert Middleton signed Welsh international striker, Billy Davies from Wrexham. Ellis Crompton, another young player with a reputation for scoring goals, also joined the club. At the same time, two of Blackburn's best players, Lionel Watson and Fred Blackburn, joined West Ham United. Blackburn, an English international, left because he was upset with the decision not to grant him a benefit. Fred Pentlandwho was unable to maintain his goalscoring form, moved to Brentford in the Southern League.


Blackburn Rovers finished in 9th place in the 1905-06 season. Adam Bowman was once again the club's top scorer with 15 goals. His strike partner, Billy Davies, added 11 more. That year, Middleton lost the services of Blackburn's talented centre-half, Sam McClure, who died after an abscess in the ear spread inwards towards the brain.


Robert Middleton made several significant signings that year, including Jack Martin, Edwin Latheron, andWattie Aitkenhead. Kelly Houlker, who had played for Blackburn Rovers between 1896 and 1901, also rejoined the club. However, now aged 34, he was passed his best and only managed 31 more games over the next two years.


Lawrence Cotton helped to raise the money to improve the Elwood Park ground. On 1st January, 1907, the recently constructed Nuttell Street Stand was opened. It could accommodate 4,112 supporters seated in the upper tier, with room for a further 9,320 standing in front. A crowd of 35,000 watched Blackburn draw 1-1 withPreston North End.


Blackburn Rovers finished in 12th place in the 1906-07 season. They were knocked out of the FA Cup byTottenham Hotspur but won the Lancashire Cup when they beat Liverpool 3-0. Jack Martin proved to be a great buy and ended up the club's leading scorer with 17 goals.


1907-08 season was very disappointing. Blackburn Rovers was knocked out of the FA Cup in the first round when they were defeated by Second Division Leicester Fosse. They also had a first round exit in the Lancashire Cup. Blackburn's league form was little better and after a late rally they finished in 14th place.Billy Davies, Edwin Latheron and Jack Martin, ended up as joint top scorers with 9 goals each.


Blackburn's new signings failed to shine. The Blackburn Times commented: "The second-rate players might advantageously be reduced and the money thus saved be utilized in paying the maximum wage to first-class men."


Robert Middleton appointed the former Preston North End star, Bob Holmes, as trainer. This had a good impact on the team as they obtain 4th place in the 1908-09 season. Billy Davies scored 19 goals in 27 league appearances. This included four goals against both Bristol City and Everton. Ellis Crompton (10) and Edwin Latheron (9) added to the impressive number of goals scored that season. Blackburn also won the Lancashire Cup and the East Lancashire Charity Cup that season.


Blackburn continued their good form the following season and by October 1909 they became leaders of the First Division of the Football League. They lost their position in January 1910 and finally finished in 3rd place behind Aston Villa and Liverpool. Blackburn's 45 points was the best total they had ever accumulated in a season. Blackburn's defence was outstanding but an injury to Billy Davies caused the club serious problems in front of goal. Wattie Aitkenhead was top scorer with 14 goals and the consistent Edwin Latheron added 10 more.


Blackburn's away form in the 1910-11 season was disastrous with their only win coming on the last day of the season. Although they won 12 games at home they could only finish in mid-table. This was very disappointing considering their 3rd and 4th positions in the previous two seasons. Top scorers were Billy Davies (16), Wattie Aitkenhead (13) and Edwin Latheron (11).


Middleton continued to add to his squad. Jock Simpson joined Blackburn Rovers from Falkirk in 1911 for afee of £1,800. The 1911-12 season began badly with Blackburn losing two of its first three games. Blackburn's form gradually improved and the team went on an unbeaten run that lasted three months. This took them to the top of the league. Despite being defeated by Bolton Wanderers and Arsenal, Blackburn went on another good run and by the end of the season they had three more points than main challengers,Everton. It was the first time in Blackburn's history that they had won the Football League title.

Blackburn Rovers in 1911-12 season.

From left to right, back row: Jock Simpson,

Edwin Latheron, George Chapman, Wattie Aitkenhead, Walter Anthony

Middle Row:Albert Walmsley, Percy Smith, Billy Bradshaw, Robert Middleton, Front Row, Bob Crompton, Alf Robinson and Arthur Cowell.


Blackburn started the 1912-13 season very well and were undefeated until December. This was followed by five successive defeats. In an attempt to regain the championship, Robert Middleton broke the Britishtransfer record by buying Danny Shea from West Ham United for £2,000. He also purchased another forward,Joe Hodkinson for £1,000. Shea scored 12 goals but it was not enough and Blackburn finished 5th that season.


As well as buying the top players, Lawrence Cotton also invested in ground improvements. He spent 7,000 on a new stand by the River Darwen. This provided covered accommodation for some 12,000 spectators. In the 1913-14 season Blackburn once again won the league title. Danny Shea was in great form scoring 27 goals. Edwin Latheron also did well that season with 13 goals. Both men also won international caps forEngland that season. Patsy Gallagher, described Shea as "one of the greatest ball artists who has ever played for England... his manipulation of the ball was bewildering."


The following season Blackburn Rovers broke the transfer record again when they bought Percy Dawson for £2,500 from Heart of Midlothian. Blackburn Rovers scored 83 goals in 1914-15 season. However, their defence was not as good and Blackburn finished 3rd behind the champions, Everton. Dawson was top scorer with 20 goals. He was followed by Edwin Latheron (17), Danny Shea (13) and Wattie Aitkenhead (8).

Douglas "Dally" Duncan. (Scotland)

Name: Douglas "Dally" Duncan 

Date of Birth: 14 October 1909

Date of Death: 2 January 1990

Place of Birth: Aberdeen, Scotland

Nationality: Scottish


Blackburn Rovers career

Honours: Division 2 Champions 1959-1959


A left-winger, Duncan joined Hull City from Aberdeen Richmond in 1928 and spent his entire professional career in England.


He joinedDerby County for £2,000 in 1932 and remained contracted to the club until 1946. During this period he earned 14 caps for the Scottish national team, scoring 7 goals between 1932 and 1937. He was also received an FA Cup winners medal with Derby in 1946.


After "guesting" for Reading, Notts County and Nottingham Forest during World War II, Duncan moved to Luton Town as a player-coach in October 1946. He was appointed manager in June 1947 and retained the position until October 1958.


n 1958 he then managed Blackburn Rovers for two seasons, helping them to the Division 2 Championship and promotion to Division 1 as well the FA Cup final in 1960. The Blackburn performance included a man of the match performance by Ally MacLeod



Duncan ran a guest house in Brighton after his football retirement. He died in 1990, aged 80.

Gordon Lee. (England)

Name: Gorldon Francis Lee 

Date of Birth: 13 July 1934

Place of Birth: Cannock, England

Nationality: English


Blackburn Rovers career

Manager: 1974-1975

Honours: Division 3 Champions 1974-1975


In January 1974 Lee left Port Vale for the vacant management post at Blackburn Rovers. They finished the 1973–74 campaign 13th in theThird Division. He then led Rovers to the league title in 1974–75, one point above runners-up Plymouth Argyle. Having proved himself at Blackburn Rovers, he left Ewood Park for the chance to prove himself in Division 1 in June 1975.

Don Mackay. (Scotland)

Name: Don Mackay 

Date of Birth: 19 March 1940

Place of Birth: Glasgow, Scotland

Nationality: Scottish


Blackburn Rovers career

Manager: 1987-1991

Honours: Full Members Cup Winners 1987


Following the sack at Coventry City, Mackay went to work as reserve-team coach at Glasgow Rangers, alongside ex playing colleague Walter Smith and the manager Graeme Souness. Despite a successful spell at Glasgow Rangers, Mackay wanted to manage in his own right, and therefore moved onto Blackburn Rovers in 1987.


At Blackburn Rovers, he narrowly missed the play-offs in his first full season in charge, but did win the Full Members Cup, beating Division 1 teams Chelsea and Everton along the way and Division 1 Charlton Athletic in the final.


During the 1988-1989 and 1989-1990 seasons Rovers made the Division 2 Play Offs, losing out on promotion both times. Following a relatively poor final season in charge, he was relieved of his position there and went onto manage Fulham.


Mackay was much liked and is still fondly remembered for the Full Members Cup victory and the attractive style of football that his Rovers teams played.

Kenny Dalglish. (Scotland)

Name: Kenny Dalglish 

Date of Birth: 4 March 1954

Place of Birth: Glasgow, Scotland

Nationality: Scottish


Blackburn Rovers career

Manager: 1991-1995

Honours: Division 2 Play Off Final Winners 1992; Premier League Champions 1994-1995


Dalglish returned to management in October 1991, at Blackburn Rovers. By the turn of 1992 they were top of the Second Division, and then suffered a dip in form before recovering to qualify for the Division 2 Play Offs, during which Dalglish led Blackburn into the new Premier League by beating Leicester City 1–0 in the Division 2 Play-off Final at Wembley.


The resulting promotion meant that Rovers were back in the top flight of English football for the first time since 1966. During the 1992 pre-season, Dalglish signed Southampton's Alan Shearer for a British record fee of £3.5 million.


Despite a serious injury which ruled Shearer out for half the season, Dalglish achieved fourth position with the team in the first year of the new Premier League.


The following year, Rovers finished two positions higher the following season, as runners-up to Manchester United. By this time, Dalglish had added England internationals Tim Flowers and David Batty to his squad. At the start of the 1994–95 season Dalglish paid a record £5 million for Chris Sutton, with whom Shearer formed an effective strike partnership. By the last game of the season, both Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United were in contention for the Premier League title. Rovers had to travel to Liverpool, and United faced West Ham United in London.


In the most thrilling end to a Premier Leagie title race in the Premier League's history, Rovers lost 2–1, but still won the title since United failed to get a result in London.


The title meant that Dalglish was only the third football manager in history to lead two different clubs to top-flight league championships, after Herbert Chapman and Brian Clough.


Dalglish became Director of Football at Blackburn in June 1995.


He left the club at the end of the season after a disappointing campaign under his replacement, Ray Harford.

Graeme Souness. (Scotland)

Name: Graeme Souness 

Date of Birth: 6 May 1953

Place of Birth: Edinburgh, Scotland

Nationality: Scottish


Blackburn Rovers career

Manager: 2000-2004

Honours: Promotion from the Championship 200-2001; League Cup Winners 2002


During the 1999-2000 season, Souness became manager of Blackburn Rovers, earning promotion back to the Premier League in his first full season in 2000-2001.


During his four year spell at Rovers he initially got the very best out of talented youngsters such as Damien Duff, David Dunn and Matt Jansen; brought Henning Berg back to the club and signed big name players like Andy Cole, Tugay Kerimoğlu, Brad Friedel and Dwight Yorke.


Cole and Jansen scored in Blackburn's 2–1 League Cup victory over Tottenham Hotspur in 2002.


He then guided Blackburn to a top 6 finish thus qualifying for the UEFA Cup before a disappointing final season in 2003–2004 in which the club struggled, although avoiding relegation.


After less than one month of the following 2004-2005 season many Blackburn fans had begun to express grave doubts in Souness' handling of the club. His authoritarian methods had led to the alienation or departure of Yorke, Cole, Dunn, Gillespie and Berg. He could not be blamed for the long term loss of Matt Jansen to a motorbike accident or Damien Duff's departure to Chelsea. None of these players however were sufficiently replaced. 


Vratislav Gresko, Lorenzo Amoruso and Corrado Grabbi were all flops, whilst Steven Reid and Brett Emerton were also disappointing – although both shone for Blackburn after Souness' departure for Newcastle during the 2004-2005 season.


Still, Souness is still very fondly remembered by the Rovers faithful.