CONTINUING our City Favourites series with part two of the ROBBIE BLAKE interview.


“Jagger was fantastic and got so much out of me. He gave me the opportunity.

“He was obviously very demanding and we clashed some times.

“You fall out with people, it happens, and there was the contract situation in the close season when we got promoted. That was difficult and probably could have been better handled on both sides.

“But he was a very good manager for me and went on to be successful elsewhere.

“Once Jagger left, the club spiralled out of control. The demise wasn’t just down to him leaving, there were a lot of things going on behind the scenes, but he was the manager who had taken us into the Premier League and nobody will forget that.

“I love Chris Kamara because he got me in first of all but in terms of level of manager, Jagger was right up there.

“Maybe, originally, the club went down the route of doing it on the cheap by giving him the job. But you still see it now with managers coming through and being given the opportunity.

“Whether it was the cheap option or Geoffrey Richmond saw something in him, it worked brilliantly.

“I played in that game at Crewe when we got beat 5-0 when he was caretaker manager and he sent us all straight back out of the changing room at half-time. For Jags, it was a learning curve.

“Like any manager, you’ve got to get your recruitment right and he made some very good signings. He gelled everything together and got the right balance.

“Then for us to stay in the Premier League the following year was an amazing achievement. To beat Liverpool on the last day of the season was incredible for him and us.

“But after that it just went absolutely sideways. We started to invest in all these big-time players on big-time money putting pressure on the situation.

“There was a lot of unrest in the dressing room and we completely hit a brick wall. No wonder it went like that because of what was happening.”


“This one is impossible because I was very, very fortunate to share the dressing room with some amazing people.

“I could go down the list from Craig Midgley to the main geezers Darren Moore, Craig Ramage, John Dreyer, Dean Saunders, Macca (Stuart McCall), Gareth Whalley, Mark Prudhoe, Aidan Davison – there were so many.

“It would be very unfair and disrespectful for me to say this one or that was my favourite.

“I roomed with John Dreyer and got on great. I still speak with Tumble now.

“But hand on heart it’s genuinely very difficult for me to pick anyone out. I love Jamie Lawrence and we talk a lot and the same with Darren Moore.

“We had such a fantastic team spirit and that dressing room was full of characters.

“I just can’t believe that in the last 15-20 years, none of us have gone to prison!

“Some of us have become managers as well in that time and nobody would have expected that.

“But there were so many players that I could pick as leaders. We were such a strong group.

“It’s so different nowadays. It’s very difficult to even get that now because a lot of the communication is on the phone or through social media.

“Gone are the days when you sit on the bus and have a good chinwag. Now, it’s all Facetime and things like that – some of the players are probably Facetiming each other on the same bus!

“That’s not me criticising, it’s just the way that football and the world has changed in so many ways.

“But you look back at our dressing room at the time and that was absolutely worth some points in keeping us in the Premier League.

“I don’t mean that we all went out together or even socialised once a month because we didn’t.

“But once we walked into the dressing room for training or a game, we were so united as a team. You need to have that determination to fight and work for each other if you want to do well.

“We knew we were going to be up against it from the start once we’d got promoted.

“But the one thing we didn’t have was any big egos. There was no talk about he’s on that sort of money when I’m not – we were all in it together.

“It was almost like working class lads working hard for each other.

“Don’t get me wrong, you’ve got to bring a talent to the team in the right areas. We had very good players but we also had that work ethic.”