‘King’ Kenny, Graeme Le Saux, Tim Sherwood and Jason Wilcox were among the star players turning out in Rovers’ first visit to the Island, followed by the likes of Alan Shearer, Colin Hendry, Tim Flowers and Henning Berg 12 months later. Here, the JEP republishes both match reports, as they appeared back then.
Jersey Evening Post – Tuesday 11 May 1993
First Tower 2
Smith; own goal
Blackburn Rovers 2
FIRST TOWER UNITED will long remember yesterday’s official opening of their La Hague Manor ground and a 2-2 draw against Jack Walker’s Premier League club Blackburn Rovers.
It was a dream come true for First Tower, both the occasion and the result, and finally brought to a happy conclusion a near 30-year effort to find the club a place to call ‘home’.
And although the majority of the spade work has been done by Tower’s committee over the years, the finance has come from the pocket of a man who has a foot firmly entrenched in both Blackburn and First Tower camps.
Walker, a patron of Tower since 1973 who is known to his friends in Jersey as Johnny, bought La Hague Manor and St George’s School for £1.2 a couple of years ago. One outbuilding has been completely upgraded. It houses a spacious reception area in which there is canteen facilities, seating and a super trophy cabinet, donated by the Tower Royals section of the club.
Mr Walker said: ‘First Tower were turned down by the IDC to build at Maufant and after spending £40,000 on legal fees for work at Goose Green Marsh, nothing again came to fruition. We then had to buy a school to get a pitch and so here we are.’
Before an estimated crowd of 2,000, manager Kenny Dalglish was expected to play for the hosts but came on for the last nine minutes to play for his own team. Dalglish’s name actually went into the referee’s notebook before the match, presumably Robin Stockton was autograph hunting!
Blackburn took 15 minutes to score, Mark Atkins drilling a low shot past Steve Carlyon after Tony Dobson had created space on Blackburn’s left.
For Tower John Kellett was working tirelessly in midfield, Simon Petulla and Steve Coutanche combined well for the former to head a cross inches over Bobby Mimms’ crossbar.
Sixteen minutes after the resumption, however, Tower had taken a 2-1 lead.
Dave Rowarth sent over a corner and with the Blackburn defence leaving the ball to each other, it hit substitute goalkeeper Frank Talia and ended up in the goal for Tower’s equaliser. Minutes later a searching through ball found Kellett and his shot was blocked by Talia. The rebound gave Micky Smith the simplest of tasks to put Tower 2-1 up.
Carlyon then made a string of fine saves, but he found a Richard Brown effort too hot to hold and Atkins followed up to score his and Blackburn’s second.
Dalglish entered the fray to play out the closing stages.
The former Celtic and Liverpool idol clipped the outside of a post and with the goal at his mercy, he put the ball over the bar. But the crowd were more than happy to see his classy act.
Tower manager Rory Crick, a member for 21 years, was delighted.
‘It’s a great result for us,’ he said. ‘The organisation of the day has been superb. It’s been a great occasion and played in a carnival atmosphere, a one-off really and something that will never be forgotten for all those involved.’
The last word lies with the man who made it all possible, Johnny Walker: ‘Brilliant. I enjoyed it very much, but I couldn’t really lose, could I!’
First Tower: Carlyon, Welsh, Muddyman, Bouteloup, Stratford, Coutanche, Kellett, McGovern, Smith, C Roworth, Petulla. Subs used: James, Marett, Lester, D Rowarth, Peebles, Alsop, Godfrey, Bateman, O’Shea.
Blackburn: Mimms, May, Anderson, Marker, Le Saux, Sherwood, Brown, Ripley, Wilcox, Atkins, Dobson. Subs: Talia, Hartford, Harford, Dalglish.
Jersey Evening Post – Tuesday 10 May 1994: The rematch
First Tower 1
Shearer (3), Dalglish (2), Sherwood, Le Saux, Atkins, Harford
SMILES of youngsters shone like beacons around La Hague Manor yesterday as Jack Walker’s Blackburn Rovers took the time and trouble to sign hundreds of autographs and smile for a plethora of clicking cameras.
They also did their bit on the field of play, turning in a truly professional and polished first-half performance in which they put seven goals past First Tower United goalkeeper Steve Carlyon.
However, Carlyon was probably man-of-the-match, producing a multitude of tremendous saves and denying England striker Alan Shearer on a number of occasions.
Jersey’s own Graeme Le Saux was a sight to behold. Apart from doing a sterling job on the public relations front, he also gave the impression that he has no intention of relinquishing the England left-back position he now holds.
Le Saux was somewhat surprised by the enthusiastic welcome he got. Mobbed by youngsters for autographs and young women wanting a kiss, he said: ‘I am more used to this in England, but I don’t really expect it at home.’
Jack ‘Johnnie’ Walker enjoyed himself. It was obvious from his expression that he was revelling in the atmosphere.
‘The big thing today is that we have brought a full squad down from Lancashire. Obviously I am happy for Tower and that everyone seems to be enjoying themselves,’ he said.
Even the man the players called ‘the gaffer’ got in on the act. Kenny Dalglish showed that class and experience are qualities which count.
He opened Blackburn’s account, turning on a sixpence and blasting the ball high into the net.
Later in the half, he curled a beauty into the top corner of the net.
In typically reticent Dalglish fashion, he described the goal as ‘lucky, because I was trying to cross it’.
Shearer showed the glimpses of the genuine class that has helped him make the England number nine shirt his own.
He got a hat-trick, although his third late in the second half was headed home by Tower’s Jon Welsh. It would have been churlish to mark it down as an own goal as it was heading into the net anyway.
For long periods Blackburn were camped in the First Tower half and displayed the range of skills and close passing which gave them such success in the Carling Premiership [second in 1993/94].
The goal of the first half was probably scored by Le Saux. He came forward from deep and curled the ball home from 12 yards.
Before that, Blackburn captain Tim Sherwood scored with an overhead kick after a knock down from Norwegian international Henning Berg.
Tower had their moments in the first half. Simon Petulla put one just over and the striker had a golden opportunity to score when they were awarded a penalty.
However, Tim Flowers dived to his right and stopped Petulla notching up Tower’s first.
Early in the second half, the Muratti man-of-the-match did get on the scoresheet. Lively right-winger Coutanche, who gave Le Saux problem at times, made a determined run across the box and after an interchange with Michael Steigenberger, the ball broke to Petulla, who hammered home on the half-volley.
When the final whistle went everyone cheered and hundreds of youngsters mobbed their heroes.
If Blackburn keep coming back, they will end up the best-supported club in Jersey. That would make Mr Walker a very happy man.
First Tower: Carlyon, Smith, Lester, Welsh, Muddyman, Stratford, Coutanche, McGovern, Petulla, O’Shea. Subs: J Liron, Bechemin, Alsop, D Roworth, James.
Blackburn Rovers: Flowers, May, Le Saux, Hendry, Berg, Sherwood, Dalglish, Atkins, Shearer, Morrison, Wilcox. Subs: Hartford, Parkes. Unused: Ripley, Gallagher, Batty, Newell, Marker, Mimms, Warhurst.