Blackburn Rovers Football Club was formed in November 1875 when some of the town’s ex-public Shrewsbury schoolboys called a meeting in Blackburn’s old St Leger Hotel on King William Street. The prime movers were Arthur Constantine and John Lewis, from Market Drayton, Shropshire, twice an FA Cup Final referee and vice-president of the League and the FA.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the possibility of forming a football club to play under Association rules. Rovers were also one of the 12 clubs which formed the Football League at a meeting held at the Royal Hotel in Manchester. The other clubs were Accrington (Old Reds), Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Blackburn’s first home game was played at Oozehead Ground, near to St Silas’ School in Preston New Road in 1876. Oozehead conjures up visions of a debilitating acne attack rather than a venue for top class football. The name was however not totally inappropriate. It was very rudimentary and had no facilities for either players or spectators. Almost in the middle of the field was a farm’s drainage pool, which had to be covered with wooden planks and grass turf, courtesy of a timber merchant, the father of Duckworth, one of the Rovers team. Not surprisingly, their stay here was shortlived. In 1877 the team played at Pleasington Cricket Ground, and in 1878 at Alexandra Meadows. Rovers moved to Leamington Ground in 1881. 1890 saw a further piece in the jigsaw fall into place when Rovers moved ground once more. The move was prompted by the landlords of the Leamington Street ground raising their rent by an exorbitant amount. This led Rovers to cast their eyes around the town for a suitable alternative venue. Ewood Park was the site chosen.
Many of the club founder members had been introduced to football in their youth, whilst at Malvern School. Thankfully the green and white quartered shirts of the school became light blue and white under the influence of the Cambridge educated members of the club. Only occasionally does one strip stand out to such a degree that the club is instantly recognised. The blue and white halves have distinguished Blackburn Rovers for well over a century. The same applies for the nickname Rovers.
As for the crest, it has been Blackburn Rovers’ distinctive emblem from the very beginning. The red rose of Lancashire features prominently on Blackburn Rovers’ official emblem plus the Latin inscription Arte et Labore….By Skill and Labour. In heraldry a red rose stands for divine love or motherhood, while a white rose indicates wisdom. Henry VIII of England created the Tudor Rose–a white rose for the House of York superimposed on a red rose for the House of Lancaster–when he united the two families by his marriage to end the 15th-century Wars of the Roses.
In 1960 Blackburn Rovers’ famous shirts featured the town’s coat-of-arms for the FA Cup Final against Wolverhampton Wanderers. They were granted on 14 February 1852 to the former Borough of Blackburn. The Borough of Blackburn was formed by the amalgamation of the County Borough of Blackburn, the Borough of Darwen, part of the Turton Urban District and the parishes of Yate and Pickup Bank, Eccleshill, Livesey, Pleasington and Tockholes from the Blackburn Rural District.
The bee in the arms is an emblem of skill, perseverance and industry. “B” also stands for Blackburn, and further, as the Peel family sprang from this neighbourhood and bears a bee in flight on its shield, the idea naturally suggests itself that Sir Robert Peel had adopted the Blackburn bee. The white background is emblematical of calico, a product of Blackburn, and the black wavy line represents the Black Brook (Blakewater) on the banks of which the town is built.
The green background of the chief is a reminder of the time when Blackburn was one of the Royal Forests in the time of Edward the Confessor. The silver bugle horn was the crest of the first Mayor of Blackburn, William Henry Hornby. It is also the emblem of strength. The gold lozenges, or fusils, are the heraldic emblems of spinning, derived from the Latin fusus or fusilium meaning a spindle, and they refer to the invention of the “Spinning Jenny” in 1864 by James Hargreaves, a native of the district.