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Old Blackburnian's View - Pt 36 - iFollow Fiasco Leads to Blackout Rovers

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iFollow Fiasco Leads to Blackout Rovers

Way back in the early 90’s, my then girlfriend (the current Mrs Old Blackburnian as it goes) would occasionally arrange to have her hair done in Rochdale on a Saturday morning. Nothing too odd with that I can hear you say, but we lived in the West Midlands at the time and each fortnight, I commuted northbound on a Saturday morning to watch the unfolding revolution taking place at Ewood. 

The future Mrs OB however would at that point, trust only her former hairdresser from her Mancunian days and so for a few months, until a suitable West Midlands alternative was eventually sourced, this was the arrangement. I would drive us up to Rochdale, hair would be sorted, then off to Ewood. The future Mrs OB would then drop me off and spend the afternoon single-handedly boosting the local retail economy for a couple of hours.

Except one Saturday, the appointment had to be delayed as we were running late due to M6 traffic issues. It seemed to take forever to reach Rochdale. With every snip, spray and “going anywhere nice for your holidays?”, the tension rose and words were exchanged as I kept pointing to my watch and visibly winced with each passing minute. We left Norden at about 2:40pm. It was a tense journey over Owd Betts to Blackburn let us say and certainly was conducted in the days before Gatso cameras became de rigueur.

I leapt out, Starsky & Hutch style (ask your parents/grandparents), somewhere on Bolton Road at about 3:10pm, eventually making it to my seat at roughly fifteen minutes after kick-off, having apologised to everyone on the row for the inconvenience, as I inched my way into the warm bosom of the Walkersteel.

Until Saturday afternoon just, that was the only previous occasion upon which I had missed the opening fifteen minutes of a Rovers game I planned to watch and that even includes once driving from Loughborough to St Andrew’s (Birmingham, not the home of golf) in a venerable, old Mini 1000 with a dodgy radiator that much like a thirsty child, needed topping up every thirty miles.

It later transpired that the “iFollow Fiasco” experienced last Saturday was fairly widespread and the EFL’s technology was seemingly overwhelmed with fans trying to access the system in a surge, as the time ticked ever closer to 3pm. In their defence, who could possibly have predicted that? Many thousands across the country were met with a black screen or a bouncing football alongside a “please wait whilst we try to connect you” message and levels of frustration last experienced whilst listening to Robbie Savage on FiveLive. 

My own connection fired up in time to show me the opening goal from Bristol City and at that point, it was fair to say that I was questioning my Saturday afternoon leisure choices. Christian Walton made a bit of a hash of a header aimed pretty close to him and in trying to push the ball around the post, he succeeded only in flapping it into the side netting. I am so old that I can remember goalkeepers actually catching attempts at goal, in the case of Pat Jennings, often with a single hand. The use of lightweight balls that move in the air has resulted in a safety-first approach to goalkeeping coaching. A keeper that actually catches anything these days is a rarity. Although in a COVID-laced environment, perhaps having the ability NOT to catch aerial threats is a desirable capability.

Not too much time to launch into “full pessimism” mode though before the returning Corry Evans curled a cross into the area for Gallagher to attack. It evaded everyone, attacker, defender and goalkeeper alike and Rovers were level. After that awful injury suffered against Preston, seeing the joy on Evans’ face was worth the wait.

Rovers certainly seemed to get the bit between their teeth and early in the second half, the hirsute Ben Brereton latched onto a short pass back, nipping in to pinch the ball before the keeper could collect, an open-goal at his mercy, you could sense the relief...just side-foot it in and...if ever there was an advert for “sensible boots, with sensible studs” then this was it. Brereton cruelly robbed of the salvation a goal would bring.

It looked like one “of those afternoons” as Rankin-Costello was robbed of a goal when the referee awarded a free kick to the increasingly hapless Bentley as a result of being fouled by his own defender. Adarabioyo soon curled in a lovely shot from the edge of the area in a “Chris Samba at Spurs” tribute and then Armstrong, on as a substitute, finished delightfully to wrap up the points. 

Whether this was a case of Rovers being particularly good or Bristol City being especially inept was hard to judge. Results on the day generally went Rovers way and so for a little while longer, the play-off dream remains alive. 

Wigan up next and with it, renewal of a strange rivalry that has taken on a life of its own since our respective promotions. Wigan enjoyed a tidy win at Huddersfield at the weekend and doubtless will be high in confidence themselves. This is yet another of those “stand up and be counted” moments for Rovers who haven’t beaten Wigan away in ten attempts, since 2007, long overdue.






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