Ex-Rover Rathbone: A derby win means so much to players

Mick Rathbone

Mick Rathbone

First published in Sport This Is Lancashire: Photograph of the Author by , Blackburn Rovers reporter

BLACKBURN Rovers’ players have been told beating Burnley at Ewood Park on Sunday and extending their unbeaten run over their fiercest rivals to 12 matches will be as ‘good as it gets’ in their careers.

That is the view of former Rovers favourite Mick Rathbone who knows exactly what it feels like to lose and win an East Lancashire derby.

The 55-year-old made his derby debut the last time Rovers lost to Burnley 35 years ago.

But Rathbone’s next and final two clashes with the Clashes were altogether more happy affairs and he credits Rovers’ 1-0 victory at Turf Moor on December 27, 1982 as the single best moment of an incredible career that now sees him mentoring the next generation of stars at Manchester United.

“If I look back in my life in football and pick out one second of absolute ecstasy it would be after the game over Christmas in 82-83 when we won 1-0 and Garns (Simon Garner) scored,” said Rathbone, who has been acting as a mentor for United’s U21s team for the past 18 months.

“That split second after the final whistle stayed with me the next day, the next week, the next 10 weeks – forever!

“I say split second but I probably mean the two minutes from the final whistle to going behind the goal and into the changing rooms.

“There were fans throwing scarves at us and hugging us and I really do think that moment is as good as it is going to get for any footballer.”

Rathbone has remained based in Blackburn ever since he signed for Rovers in March 1979 from his boyhood club Birmingham City following an initial loan spell.

He admits he was not aware of the significance of the East Lancashire derby the first time he played in it – Burnley’s 2-1 victory at Ewood in April 1979.

But he soon got up to speed and now he reckons the derby is the equal of any in world football.

“I always think back to the golden era of the derby when we won two in the 82-83 season but funnily enough I was looking through the history books recently and I actually forget I had played in a previous derby,” said Rathbone, a veteran of Merseyside derbies having spent eight years as Everton’s head of sports medicine between 2002 and 2010.

“I don’t remember a lot of it as I was on loan from Birmingham at the time and this parochial affair meant nothing – in inverted commas – to me because I’d come from the big derby – in inverted commas – of Birmingham against Aston Villa.

“But once I signed permanently and I started going out with a Blackburn girl who was a Blackburn fan and whose dad played for Blackburn in the 60s – once I got the DNA in me – it was completely different.

“It’s unbelievable. I tell the guys at Manchester United when they talk about El Clasico, the Milan derby, the Manchester derby and the Glasgow that you’ll go a hell of a long way to beat the East Lancs derby.”

Comments (12)

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11:27am Wed 5 Mar 14

BRFC75 says...

Baz, Top Banana, had his ups and downs , bad injuries , 87 final.

He was one of the lads when with the fans, a decent honest player ,in his prime turned down big money moves , refused to join Man City even though they offered to double his salary.
Baz a true and Great EX- ROVER.
Baz, Top Banana, had his ups and downs , bad injuries , 87 final. He was one of the lads when with the fans, a decent honest player ,in his prime turned down big money moves , refused to join Man City even though they offered to double his salary. Baz a true and Great EX- ROVER. BRFC75
  • Score: 18

11:43am Wed 5 Mar 14

juanbbien says...

Mike Rathbone was a good honest player for us in his time here a real bargain buy
Mike Rathbone was a good honest player for us in his time here a real bargain buy juanbbien
  • Score: 17

12:14pm Wed 5 Mar 14

BlueSkies says...

His book "The Smell Of Football", a terrific read for Rovers fans.
His book "The Smell Of Football", a terrific read for Rovers fans. BlueSkies
  • Score: 9

12:15pm Wed 5 Mar 14

champs95 says...

BRFC75 wrote:
Baz, Top Banana, had his ups and downs , bad injuries , 87 final. He was one of the lads when with the fans, a decent honest player ,in his prime turned down big money moves , refused to join Man City even though they offered to double his salary. Baz a true and Great EX- ROVER.
If you get chance read his book 'The Smell Of Football' it's a cracking read.
[quote][p][bold]BRFC75[/bold] wrote: Baz, Top Banana, had his ups and downs , bad injuries , 87 final. He was one of the lads when with the fans, a decent honest player ,in his prime turned down big money moves , refused to join Man City even though they offered to double his salary. Baz a true and Great EX- ROVER.[/p][/quote]If you get chance read his book 'The Smell Of Football' it's a cracking read. champs95
  • Score: 0

3:48pm Wed 5 Mar 14

Garylla says...

I hope the current players take note of this well respected football man. Well said Baz!!
I hope the current players take note of this well respected football man. Well said Baz!! Garylla
  • Score: 1

3:55pm Wed 5 Mar 14

owd nick says...

Gawd this article brings back memories!

Lets hope Rovers give us something else to remember on Sunday.
Gawd this article brings back memories! Lets hope Rovers give us something else to remember on Sunday. owd nick
  • Score: 2

5:44pm Wed 5 Mar 14

guiderover says...

I know most Rovers fans remember Mike Rathbone as Basil,but I can also remember singing 'Rambo Rathbone'.Does anyone else recall this?It pretty much summed him up as a player.
I know most Rovers fans remember Mike Rathbone as Basil,but I can also remember singing 'Rambo Rathbone'.Does anyone else recall this?It pretty much summed him up as a player. guiderover
  • Score: 0

6:14pm Wed 5 Mar 14

smithsblue says...

What about when he stood on the ball against Utd in the 85 cup !
Agree he was a good servant as a player.

If he was so in tune with the fans, he should have been more forthright about he who must not be named - instead tucking in nicely behind a fellow football man - give him more time etc.

The attendance on Sunday will sadly confirm the reduced relevance and interest in the East Lancs derby.
What about when he stood on the ball against Utd in the 85 cup ! Agree he was a good servant as a player. If he was so in tune with the fans, he should have been more forthright about he who must not be named - instead tucking in nicely behind a fellow football man - give him more time etc. The attendance on Sunday will sadly confirm the reduced relevance and interest in the East Lancs derby. smithsblue
  • Score: 0

7:45pm Wed 5 Mar 14

happiness says...

smithsblue wrote:
What about when he stood on the ball against Utd in the 85 cup !
Agree he was a good servant as a player.

If he was so in tune with the fans, he should have been more forthright about he who must not be named - instead tucking in nicely behind a fellow football man - give him more time etc.

The attendance on Sunday will sadly confirm the reduced relevance and interest in the East Lancs derby.
That was already reduced when only 13,000 Burnley fans turned up in the reverse fixture this season. The gate might just creep over the 20,000 mark. I think being forced to go to the games on old, clapped out buses and then forced to pay for the privilege to watch a game where ticket prices are already hiked up to way above what they are normally might have a lot to do with it. Yes, I was there in the away section of the Longside in December 82 when Garner turned and fired in at the deathtrap end. Great memories.
[quote][p][bold]smithsblue[/bold] wrote: What about when he stood on the ball against Utd in the 85 cup ! Agree he was a good servant as a player. If he was so in tune with the fans, he should have been more forthright about he who must not be named - instead tucking in nicely behind a fellow football man - give him more time etc. The attendance on Sunday will sadly confirm the reduced relevance and interest in the East Lancs derby.[/p][/quote]That was already reduced when only 13,000 Burnley fans turned up in the reverse fixture this season. The gate might just creep over the 20,000 mark. I think being forced to go to the games on old, clapped out buses and then forced to pay for the privilege to watch a game where ticket prices are already hiked up to way above what they are normally might have a lot to do with it. Yes, I was there in the away section of the Longside in December 82 when Garner turned and fired in at the deathtrap end. Great memories. happiness
  • Score: 0

8:36pm Wed 5 Mar 14

smithsblue says...

There is a growing malaise. Unacceptable owners as well as hiked prices.

Good memories - like the roof tiles flying and megaphone pleading in the reverse fixture.

I won't be attending this time.
There is a growing malaise. Unacceptable owners as well as hiked prices. Good memories - like the roof tiles flying and megaphone pleading in the reverse fixture. I won't be attending this time. smithsblue
  • Score: 0

9:05pm Wed 5 Mar 14

guiderover says...

I was there in 82 and I'll be there Sunday.c'mon you blues!
I was there in 82 and I'll be there Sunday.c'mon you blues! guiderover
  • Score: 1

1:39am Thu 6 Mar 14

northernchef says...

happiness wrote:
smithsblue wrote:
What about when he stood on the ball against Utd in the 85 cup !
Agree he was a good servant as a player.

If he was so in tune with the fans, he should have been more forthright about he who must not be named - instead tucking in nicely behind a fellow football man - give him more time etc.

The attendance on Sunday will sadly confirm the reduced relevance and interest in the East Lancs derby.
That was already reduced when only 13,000 Burnley fans turned up in the reverse fixture this season. The gate might just creep over the 20,000 mark. I think being forced to go to the games on old, clapped out buses and then forced to pay for the privilege to watch a game where ticket prices are already hiked up to way above what they are normally might have a lot to do with it. Yes, I was there in the away section of the Longside in December 82 when Garner turned and fired in at the deathtrap end. Great memories.
Burnley have sold out their 4500 allocation and rovers have sold over 20000. Creep over 20 thousand pipe down clown its always important now more than ever
[quote][p][bold]happiness[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]smithsblue[/bold] wrote: What about when he stood on the ball against Utd in the 85 cup ! Agree he was a good servant as a player. If he was so in tune with the fans, he should have been more forthright about he who must not be named - instead tucking in nicely behind a fellow football man - give him more time etc. The attendance on Sunday will sadly confirm the reduced relevance and interest in the East Lancs derby.[/p][/quote]That was already reduced when only 13,000 Burnley fans turned up in the reverse fixture this season. The gate might just creep over the 20,000 mark. I think being forced to go to the games on old, clapped out buses and then forced to pay for the privilege to watch a game where ticket prices are already hiked up to way above what they are normally might have a lot to do with it. Yes, I was there in the away section of the Longside in December 82 when Garner turned and fired in at the deathtrap end. Great memories.[/p][/quote]Burnley have sold out their 4500 allocation and rovers have sold over 20000. Creep over 20 thousand pipe down clown its always important now more than ever northernchef
  • Score: 0

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