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Ripley in Rovers return

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Wing ace Ripley looks to Rovers return

Former Blackburn wing ace Stuart Ripley says he can't wait to revisit the club where he spent the best years of his football life.

Ripley, 35, retired from the game last year after a career which saw him shine as a youngster for his home town club Middlesboro before ending it with Southampton.

But it is Ripley's time in Blackburn that brings the memories flooding back and he is thrilled at the thought of reuniting with his Championship winning colleagues at Simon Garner's testimonial match on May 18.

"It was an incredible period of my life" said Ripley, who recently qualified as a personal trainer and sports therapist.

"For three or four years I just felt that eventually everything would come together and we'd go all the way" and in 1995 we did.

"Football is continually changing, but it's always been difficult for a club outside the top two or three names to have a chance of winning the league.

"But for a brief period a window of opportunity opened, and at Blackburn we grabbed that opportunity."

Ripley reckons his Championship medal marks the pinnacle of his career, despite winning a pair of caps for England, and regrets only that the Championship side was so quickly dismantled.

"It was a fantastic team to be a part of, though it's a shame it was broken up so quickly," he added.

Now, though, he's looking forward to the big reunion when the Champions of 1995 take on Graeme Souness's Cup Winners.

"Most of the lads are still playing, so I'd better get some training done "; it's incredible how quickly you can lose fitness when you're out of the game!"

The Simon Garner Testimonial Match takes place on Sunday May 18 at Ewood Park. Kick-off is at 4pm. Tickets are priced £12 and £6 and available from the club ticket office or by calling 01254 671666. Corporate packages and boxes can be purchased by calling 01254 690909.

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