Duncan Miller is well-known for running as an Independent MP for Blackburn in the 2017 General Election – with the tagline “Vote Miller, Vote #venkysout”. RoversChat talks to him about his time as a Rovers fan and his thoughts on the campaign.
This interview was conducted on the 31st July/1st August
Why do you support Rovers?
“Quite simply, I was born into it. It was never a conscious decision. There are pictures of me and my Dad from before I can remember… after the full members cup final, and loads of me kicking about in a Sponsor-less Spall kit (must have been the mid 80s)… it’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember.”
What is your first memory of being a Rovers fan?
“My earliest memories are a bit hazy… I remember being passed over the turnstiles as a little lad, and that walk up the back of the terraces… something that’s really vivid is being at Blackpool away in what must have been a Manx or Lancs cup tie, with my Dad and my Auntie, as well as my Grandad… he was a big part in my Rovers upbringing.
When I was in my teenage years, my Dad had to give up his season ticket as he couldn’t work due to some major surgery. Money was really tight… my Grandad was dying of Cancer at the time and he leant me the money for my season ticket. I had a paper round at the time, and to be honest, I don’t think I ever paid him back, but I used to go around to his on a Sunday morning and give him a match report… it’s always been a family thing for me.
We’d seen a lot of good times together, from the playoff final, to the culmination of our title winning season. My Grandad (and my Dad, who still does!) would regale me with stories of what they had witnessed on the terraces over the years… great players, great results, funny stuff, when it went off, all the ups and downs. Being born in 1982, I’m fortunate enough to, just about, remember the old days… an Ewood park reeking of piss and tobacco smoke, Simon Garner, Kidder Street, and proper tackles. 10 minute half times, terraces and 2 substitutes. Days I’d love to experience again as an adult.”
What was your first game for Rovers?
“I honestly can’t tell you what my first game was… as I mentioned before, I vividly remember some Pre-season affairs, but I think the time I started really getting into it was around the last days of Don Mackay, so 1991… I vividly remember the buzz when Kenny was in the stands (I told my Dad Peter Baah was brilliant against Plymouth), my favourite ever goal remains Speedie’s diving header versus Newcastle on what I believe was Keenan’s first game in charge of them (what a celebration by the way), I hated Kevin ‘Rooster’ Russell with every fibre of my 9 year old being, and the playoff final, where my Dad took me, leaving my heavily pregnant mother at home, is a memory I’ll treasure forever. I remember other bits… a brilliant away following from Kettering, the buzz around Ardiles, Scott Sellars majesty, Kevin Moran’s rock hardness… but that promotion season in 91-92 really stands out. Until pretty recently, I had a ‘Membership Card’ for the now Riverside Stand… wish I’d kept hold! I suppose the promotion season is where my memories become really vivid.”
What is your ultimate 5 a side team for Rovers?
“My Ultimate 5 a side team… that’s really tough!! Whatever I select I’m going to leave out some fantastic players. I’ve given this a lot of thought, so I’ll try and justify…
GK: Brad Friedel: What a keeper!! Worth at least half a dozen clean sheets per season. World class for us, and one of the best keepers of the premier league era. Bobby Mimms just misses out – I loved Mimms, hugely underrated and just seems a great bloke to boot!
Defence: Kevin Moran How blessed have we been with great defenders over the years?!?! But to me, Kevin Moran displays everything you need in a top drawer centre half. Tough, a leader, good on the ball… I can still see that goal at the baseball ground if I shut my eyes. We saw him in the twilight of his career, but his contribution in my time as a fan can’t be understated.
Midfield: Controversy here, I expect… Mark Atkins and Jason Wilcox.
Here we have my two favourite players of all time… not the most fashionable, and never the first to gain plaudits… I may very well be on my own here….
Super Atko would absolutely walk into our team today, be our best player by a mile, be captain, bag 10+ goals a season… a true box to box midfielder, HUGELY underrated and an absolute bargain! His performance in the playoff final was superhuman, and his contribution to our title win is so often overlooked.
Wilcox is my favourite ever player. Our only youth team product to lift the title. I can still get really upset by the stick he sometimes got from sections of our support, but I love him. The number of goals he created was frightening… His efforts in our relegation season were unparalleled (I seem to be the only person who remembers him twatting our one time trialist Hugo Porfirrio, then of Forest)… should have been a one club man, but for the emergence of Damien Duff. Great player, true blue and white, and if England had have took him to Euro 96 instead of Steve Stone, we’d have won that tournament.
Striker: Shearer. No explanation necessary. Simply the best. I nearly cried when Speedie left, and I was brought up to love and appreciate Garner… but Shearer was a different class. We had him at his best, and I wouldn’t have swapped him for anyone before, during, or since that time!
Honourable mention for Tugay in this team!!”
How did the election campaign idea come about?
“The recent election campaign came about through pure frustration. I’d been attending meetings with a number of fantastic and like minded fans at Ewood WMC for a while, and when the snap election was announced, I made a comment along the lines of: “Wouldn’t it be good if someone stood for the Venkys Out Party”… that was that.
I feel a real need to mention the efforts of other fans here… I’ve always been against the idea of dodgy foreign ownership of clubs, and was instrumental in the founding of Rovers Trust – an organisation I still feel has a big part to play. The efforts a number of our fans have gone to over the years has been nothing short of phenomenal! Mark Fish and Paul Keogh spring to mind straight away… utmost respect for those lads! Glen Mullan has done some sterling work too.
The entire idea was basically me trying to do my bit, trying to focus my energies where I felt I may be able to get some attention to our plight and drum up some support. In short, I wanted to do my bit, and felt this was the best way. I was a bit apprehensive at first… I wasn’t too bothered about getting stick (although I’m incredibly happy the feedback was massively positive)… but there wasn’t too many negatives, and the feedback I got from Rovers fans I really respect is something I’ll be eternally grateful for. members of Ewood Blues (particularly Birdy – a fantastic bloke who bleeds blue and white) – their backing meant a hell of a lot! Big thanks to all the WMC group too (especially Mick, Ste and Dave).”
How did you feel the entire campaign went and would you do it again?
“Would I do it again? Put simply… Yes. I despise Venky’s with every fibre of my being. No excuses, no forgiveness, no forgetting. They have brought our proud, beloved club to its knees. If I could get away with murdering those three idiots I’d do it in a heartbeat for what they have done to our club and to Uncle Jack’s legacy.
I am concerned that a similar campaign would be met with apathy, or hostility though… there is an apparent “feel good factor” around the club at the moment… with us being in the third tier for the first time in 40 years, I really don’t get it… to me Venkys have squandered what Jack worked so hard to create… it’s like pissing away a lottery win.
I still harbour no political ambitions whatsoever on a personal level, but I think my campaign was pretty successful! Beating the lib Dems was a superb achievement – the election result night was as fantastic as it was bizarre and humbling for me. If only we’d have managed to register a “Venky’s Out” party!
If we do go again, I think there is a real opportunity to get fans of other teams involved and engaged. A political movement against toxic ownership and toothless regulation has to be the way forward.”
What are your thoughts on the summer for Rovers?
“My thoughts in the summer so far… I think it’s important to point out that Tony Mowbray is a breath of fresh air. I really hope he succeeds, but if he does it will be in spite of Venkys, not because of them. We’ve got rid of some deadwood (I’m particularly happy to see the back of Steele), and secured some solid signings while maintaining the bulk of the squad we would want to!
I think Elliott Bennett will be key for us, and can see him really bossing this league (Captain material for me), Raya and Nyambe excite me, and I’ve long admired Peter Whittingham and was very pleasantly surprised when we signed him. I’d like to see us bring in a striker and a hard, experienced centre half before the window shuts. If we do this we have a chance… unfortunately under our current idiotic owners, God only knows what will happen. We have the potential to be promoted, though I think some of our fans are being somewhat over-optimistic.
Under Venkys we have lurched from one disaster to the next, and while I hope that changes, I could see a frustrating season of mid table mediocrity being the order of the day. I’d love to be proved wrong though!”
What are your predictions for next year? (e.g final position, top scorer, POTY, etc.)
Top Scorer: Graham
Position: Play Offs (winners)
RoversChat would like to thank Duncan for taking time out to participate in our interview. His Twitter can be found here.
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