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Simon Garner - in his own words


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Ahead of his Testimonial Match Simon Garner has been answering questions posed by Board members. A thread featuring all your questions is now running on the The Message Board

We also heard today that Stuart Ripley is to make his Ewood Park return for the Championship Team that will be playing today's Rovers, squad on May 18th

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We forwarded all the questions posed to Simon last week and received his reply on Monday. Admin/mods are delighted to have had Simon's response, not much else to say other than many thanks to Simon and good luck with the Testimonial.

I've got my tickets   Just a reminder to everyone; Season Ticket holders have until tomorrow to claim their seat after which tickets go on general sale priced £12 for adults, £6 concessions.

The replies are split in two as the board won't accept an individual post of this length.

© BRFCS.com

Prepared by Paul

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I know he denies it in his book but did Simon have anything to do with the Burnley flypast?

SG. No, but I know the people who were involved. I didn,t know about it until after the event. I laughed long, loud and hard. But it wasn't me.

Oh, and can he remember talking to me at Cardiff last year?

SG. Ah, so it was you! Er, no. Sorry.


1.What is the most memorable match you have played in?

SG. Breaking the scoring record against Manchester City in 1989.

2. Who was your biggest football influence?

SG. My parents. They supported my ambitions and never once suggested I should think about a proper career.

3. Who was the best striker you played alongside for Rovers?

SG. Mike Newell  he was an all-round performer and a generous, intelligent player.

4. What do you think are the future prospects of the current Rovers side?

SG.  Very good. It's a bit of a cliché, but they do have a solid blend of youth and experience and, for my money, one of the best managers in the business.

5. What is your biggest regret in your football career?

SG. Not playing in the top flight for Blackburn.

6. What is the most memorable goal that you scored for Rovers?

SG. The record breaking goal against Manchester City. I hit it sweetly with my left foot into the top corner at the Blackburn End. It was the second of a hat-trick.

7. Who was the best manager that you worked with at Rovers?

SG. Bobby Saxton and Kenny Dalglish. Bobby managed to make us a genuine top-flight cntendors with no money. Kenny brought together some great players while also improving those he inherited.

8. And who was the worst?

SG. Jim Iley. He was a disaster.

9. Who was the best character in the dressing room that you played alongside at Rovers, and why?

SG. Mick Rathbone. His enthusiasm and humour were infectious.

10.What do you really think of the standard of commentary and match analysis on Radio Rovers?

SG. I can't receive it where I live, so I've never heard it.

11.Who do you think will be the next emerging star to come out of the Academy.

SG. From the reports I've had, Paul Gallacher is the man to watch.


Do you think you would have made it in football now and would you have coped with the demands of fitness and diet needed in today's game?

SG. Basically yes, because you adapt to circumstances. But I doubt if I'd enjoyed the dietary element.


If you could have chosen any team, except Rovers, who would you have liked to play for?

SG. Difficult one. I never had any real allegiance to a club as a child. How about England?

Which current Premiership striker would you like to play with?

SG. Alan Shearer. The best striker around, I think I'd have made him a lot of goals.

Who was the best defender you played against?

SG. Alan Hansen. A great all-round player, very difficult to get past, and he read the game very well.


What gave you the most satisfaction:

1) Scoring the winner at Turf Moor on Boxing Day, 1981

2) Breaking the Rovers scoring record v Man City in 1989

3) Scoring 5 v Derby in 1983

4) Keeping a clean sheet when you kept goal against Ipswich (won 1-0)!

SG. In order - 2, 1, 3, 4


If Rovers were to offer you a job at the club and you could do anything you wanted would you take it? and if so, what would you like to do?

SG. It'd be a bit difficult to commute from where I live! Staying in football has never been an ambition.


I seem to remember you asking for a transfer at one stage. If that's true, what were your reasons, and why didn't a transfer materialise?

SG. It's true. I thought I deserved a better contract than the one that was offered, considering the money coming into the club. But I eventually settled and the transfer didn't materialise.


How did you give up smoking?

SG. With great difficulty. And a few cigars!


Simon, after the testimonial - can you lend me a few quid?

SG. Sure. But can you lend me a few quid now?

Bob Fleming

1. The team of the early - mid eighties did very, very well in my opinion considering that the club had no money at the time. In terms of team spirit at the club would you say that this was the over riding factor in this success?

SG. Yes, you're right. We all stuck together - from the directors to the players to everyone concerned with the club.

2. How close were Rovers to going out of business? It was touch and go by all accounts.

SG. I don't know, but I guess it was pretty close. At one stage the players didnt get paid for a few weeks.

3. Was Tony Finnigan insane?

SG. Slightly. But dont tell him I said that.

4. Who was the most consistent defender you came up against?

SG. Steve Walsh, the ex-Leicester City defender. I played against him quite a bit and he was consistently a pain in the arse. And the ankles. A very tricky opponent.


Did Don Mackay ever catch you having a fag outside the ground just before kick off; i.e, when we chatted to you at Port Vale?

SG. No. Nor at any other ground.

Was it really you who messaged some of the members on here?

SG. No. I cant work a computer. But I have one or two friends who can . . .

Will you sign my Homer Simpson undies?

SG. That depends. Are they clean?

Can I have some of the royalties from your book as there is a photograph of me in it

SG. Which picture?


What do you really think of Bumley?

SG. I dont really think of Burnley at all.

How did it feel when you scored against them?

SG. Great. It's always good to score, but that's really special. Though they seemed to keep making it easy for me.

Jim mk2

1.Despite your goal-scoring record, you had a a lot of critics who said you were nothing better than a goal-hanger who could not play the game and had a poor technique. What do you say to them?

SG. I dont think I was a goal-hanger. I made as many as I scored and I was never frightened to pass to someone in a good scoring position. As for technique, my meagre talents kept me in the professional game for 20 years.

2. Your Rovers career ended in disappointment when Kenny Dalglish did not even put you on the bench for the Wembley play-off final in 1992. You had positive things to say about Dalglish in your overpriced book, but what do you really think of him?

SG. I'm sorry you thought the book was overpriced. As for Kenny, he was a great player, a great manager and a great man. There were players in better form than me available on that day in 1992 and Kenny made the right decision. I had the next best thing by being one of the non-playing guys on the bench. I can honestly say it was one of the best days of my life.

3. Do you think you would have been a better footballer if you had not smoked like a chimney and drunk like a navvy?

SG. No. And while I've always enjoyed a drink, your description is over the top.

4. Why did you never earn a big-money move to a First Division club? Do you think it was because you weren't good enough as a player  or do you think managers wouldn't touch you  because of your reputation for smoking and drinking?

SG. It had nothing to do with my reputation, because I was hardly a bad boy. At that time, there were plenty of others around who might have looked after themselves a bit better. I thought I was good enough to play at the top level, but a deal never happened and that's life.

5. Why do you think you deserve a second testimonial when some people might say that real Rovers legends such as Bryan Douglas and Ronnie Clayton, who earned more than 70 England caps between them, are far more deserving?

SG. Those people may be right. I certainly wouldnt say they are less deserving than me, but that's not up to me. If anyone wanted to arrange a testimonial for Ronnie or Bryan, then I think that would be fantastic.

6. What happened to the (good) money (compared with the man in street) you earned throughout your career? Did you blow it on fags and booze and having a good time with your mates?

SG. No. On a mortgage, paying bills, bringing up my children. Like most people, I guess. And, again like most people, I like to socialise. Is that unusual?

7. What happened to the money from your first testimonial? Did you blow it on fags and booze and having a good time with your mates (according to your book) rather than put it to one side for your retirement or to spend on your ex-wife and children?

SG. I dont think you read the (overpriced) book properly. The majority went to my ex-wife.

8. And talking about your ex-wife and children, do you think you would still be married if you had spent half as much time with them as you did living it up with your mates?

SG. No, I wouldnt be married. It can be difficult spending as much time with people you'd like to when you work and, for the most part, live so far away. The reasons for that are, again, explained in my (overpriced) book. The connection you make is inaccurate and not relevant to the breakdown in my first marriage and, while I'm trying to answer honestly here, this is, with respect, a private matter.

9. With reference to your time in jail, do you regret not paying your ex-wife the money she was owed as part of your divorce settlement, rather than (according to your  book) blowing it on a Vauxhall Calibra and more good times with your mates?

SG. Your presumption is again way off the mark, Jim, and I wonder how much of my (overpriced) book you actually read. I regret making the mistake which saw me go to prison. I didnt enjoy prison. It was a dreadful experience. My ex-wife received all the money she was due.

10. Did you feel bitter when you saw multi-millionaires such as Jason McAteer, playing as if he could not care less in a Rovers shirt, when you gave the best years of your life to the Blackburn cause for a relative pittance? And if you don't feel bitter, why not? Most people would be.

SG. More presumption, Jim. Please dont presume that my emotional make-up is the same as yours. Why should I feel bitter? I made a decent living (as you say earlier in question 6) during my career and had a brilliant time. As for Jason, I doubt he is a multi-millionaire. As for his attitude, I dont like to make sweeping judgements about people I dont know. That would make me look foolish. Wouldnt you agree?


What is your opinion of journalists ?

SG. 99% are fine, but you always get the odd one who changes the words you say and then changes the meaning, which is worse still. I've only had one really bad experience, which I'd consider pretty good considering the number of times I've been interviewed.

Did you always see eye to eye with the Rovers fans or did you find there were a few ungrateful whingers about ?

SG. Again, 99% are fine but there's the odd one who would moan if it was free admission, free pies, free beer and Rovers were in the Champions League Final.


I'd love to hear his opinions on the current squad too, especially about the Dunn saga, but I suspect he won't want to rock the boat before his testimonial.

SG. I think the current squad is more than capable of holding their own. Perhaps Dunn needed a kick up the backside. It certainly appears to have worked, but I dont know the full story.

Nelly bc

What is your proudest moment for Rovers?

SG. Breaking the scoring record.


Taking Rovers out of the equation, which club did you most enjoy playing at?

SG. Wycombe Wanderers. A fantastic style of play, a great manager, a lovely club and we did extremely well. I thoroughly enjoy going to Wycombe, which is near my home, and I am always made to feel welcome there.

(Not sure if you will remember this)

How did you feel when my dog got the ball off you during a training session in Witton Park, and how long did the ribbing last from the other players?

SG. I've had a lot worse players than your dog take the ball off me. The ribbing lasted until I scored my next goal.


Some of the current Rovers team have a reputation for enjoying a skinfull and can often be seen out and about in Blackburn. Some fans feel this has an adverse effect on their game. Do you think the fans should get off their back and leave them alone or has the modern game changed so much that your beer and fags training regime is no longer acceptable.

SG. If players are performing on the pitch, they should be able to lead their own lives off it.

In your book you mention befriending Helen Chamberlin, does her real life persona match her on screen one? Is she really that attractive close up and why haven't we seen you on the coach with her and Tim ?

SG. Yes, she is. I've been on the couch once before and I'm waiting for another invitation.

If you could bring one current Premiership player to Rovers, who would it be and why?

SG. Alan Shearer. He's the best player of the Premiership era without exception, still absolutely deadly and a great leader on the pitch.

© BRFCS.com

Prepared by Paul

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You have kindly been the first interviewee for this feature, given your knowledge of people connected with Rovers past and present, who do you feel would make an interesting interview and who do you feel would welcome such questioning ?

SG. Ronnie Clayton must have some great stories to tell.

You disclaimed any connection with the flypast many times now, but do you know how your name got linked with it in the first place?

SG. Because I knew some of the people involved in it.


Was there ever a time when it seemed likely that a top- flight side would sign you? What was the closest you came to leaving Rovers for one of the bigger clubs of the time or did those clubs just have a look but decide not to bite?

SG. I was always told by the club that if someone wanted me, then they,d tell me. But I was also under contract and in my day, players tended to honour their contracts. I don't know if there was anything ever going on in the background.


During your period at Rovers you would have seen many players come and go. Many of whom have been like yourself fans favourites, however unlike yourself many of these left of their own accord, one of which was Colin Hendry. During his latter period with the club he became known as Mr Rovers. Is this a true reflection that he was a Mr Rovers or was it just due to his committment on the pitch.

SG. As far as I'm concerned he gave everything to Rovers during his time with the club.

Is there any truth in the rumours that Colin gave a certain player a good thumping for lack of attitude and effort?

SG. I've not heard that before, so I doubt it.

During your period at the club, which player was the best on and off the pitch, not so much for his playing ability but for his leadership, and who was the best captain you played under?

SG. Faz. Faz. And, for the third part, Faz.

In years past due to Rovers finances, Rovers brought a number of players through from the youth squad, e.g Bailey, Bradshaw, Hird, Barker and now due to the transfer window we are starting to get youngsters thrown again into the first team, McEveley, Gallagher. Do you think the influx of foreign players have restricted the opportunities for youngsters to gain first team experience, and do you think the transfer window has been a benefit to the youngsters.

SG. I dont think the influx has really restricted opportunities at Blackburn in the ways they certainly have with, for example, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea. As for the second part of the question, I dont think anything much has changed.


Does Simon Garner ever ring up the Rovers boss to offer his advice?

SG. No. Are you kidding?

Does the boss ever listen?

SG. Graeme is his own man.


If you were given the chance to start all over again, is there anything you would do differently?

SG. No. It was great. I've been very, very lucky to have the opportunities to fulfil my ambitions. By and large, I did just that.

Alex sci fi

How peed off were you with Super Atko for ruining your moment of glory by scoring that OG in the last minute against Liverpool in the FA cup after it looked like you'd scored the winner? Considering that took away the chance to see your name plastered over the morning papers and that it was entirely his mistake, what did you and the other players say to him after the match?

SG. Not at all. All players make mistakes. I've missed chances to win games, but it's not something you do on purpose. As a team you stick together through thick and thin. And in football, there's usually more thin.

In your book you say that contrary to popular rumour you didn't have a Rovers shirt under your WBA one when you scored against Burnley. I really thought that was true and was gutted when you said it wasn't. As that rumour was always taken as the truth have you any idea how the rumour started and what did you actually do for the celebration considering it was in front of the Burnley fans?

SG. I wish I'd thought of it, to be honest, because it's a top idea! I was told by my chairman not to celebrate if I scored, but I couldnt resist. I just stood there gloating!

Billinge End Blue

I never got to the shop but how well did Roccoco in Feniscowles do in competition with Roy Marlor's, Originals and Pelle before the blaggings affected business? Do you reckon the dresser gear of the late eighties/early nineties compares favourably with today's sports casual look?

SG. The shop did OK, but the gear today is much better.

Do you ever meet up socially with the likes of Simon Barker, Mark Patterson or your fellow Telegraph columnist Glen Keeley these days?

SG. No, because we all live so far apart, but I hope to see them all at my testimonial game.

Might other players from your era be involved on the pitch in your game in May (perhaps as subs)? A glimpse of a strike partnership of John Lowey and Andy Cole would be intriguing.

SG. I know the testimonial committee is exploring a number of as yet unannounced avenues to make it a fantastic day out for me, the players and the fans. They'll let you know, I'm sure.

© BRFCS.com

Prepared by Paul

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