Historically, Blackburn Rovers have been one of the most successful and significant clubs in English football.
Nowadays, they have fallen down the pecking order somewhat having suffered from mismanagement and financial problems since their relegation from the Premier League in 2012.
But theirs is an eminent and trophy-laden one, populated by club stalwarts who have pledged their loyalty to the East Lancashire side. In this list, we’ll outline the ten players to have made the most Blackburn Rovers league appearances.
10. Jack Bruton – 324 appearances, 1929-1939
A Lancashire-native, Jack Bruton was a pacey winger in his day. He represented Blackburn both as a player and a manager, overseeing things from the dugout from 1947 to 1949.
As well as being 10th on the list of Blackburn Rovers league appearances, Bruton is also the club’s 4th all-time top goalscorer. He netted 108 times in 324 league appearances.
In his decade with Rovers, he saw the club maintain a steady pace in the top-flight until their first-ever relegation in 1936. But in his last season with the club, he helped Rovers earn promotion back to Division 1 again.
9. Tony Parkes – 350 appearances, 1970-1981
No man is perhaps quite so synonymous with Blackburn Rovers as Tony Parkes. He spent 12 years with the club as a player between 1970 and 1982, when Rovers were occupying the lower tiers of the football pyramid.
A versatile midfielder, Parkes is one of the most committed men to have ever pulled on a blue and white shirt. That commitment extended well beyond his playing days. He was caretaker manager no fewer than six times between 1986 and 2004, always willing to step up when the club was struggling.
He was present as a coach during Blackburn Rovers’ finest hour, the League title win in 1995. His dementia diagnosis earlier this year was greeted by a tremendous outpouring of emotion from Rovers fans.
8. Glenn Keeley – 370 appearances, 1976-1987
Glenn Keeley might not be the most well-recognised name on this list to non-Blackburn fans. But his is a name which rings out in this corner of East Lancashire.
He represented the club 370 times in the league in an 11-year stretch between 1976 and 1987. In his final season, he was part of the Blackburn side to win the Full Members’ Cup, the competition established after English clubs were banned from Europe in the wake of the Heysel Stadium disaster.
7. Billy Bradshaw – 386 appearances, 1903-1919
Billy Bradshaw was a footballer from a wildly different era to the current one. He was born just around the corner from Blackburn in Padiham and played football for a number of teams in the local area.
It was for Rovers that he excelled, however, winning the League championship twice, once in 1912 and once 1914. Blackburn wouldn’t repeat that feat for a further 80 years. He was a leading light in without a doubt the most high-flying years in the club’s history.
6. Bill Eckersley – 406 appearances, 1947-1961
A penalty specialist and an early example of a cultured full-back, Bill Eckersley is one of the greatest defenders in Rovers history. His elastic limbs which always seemed to be able to retrieve the ball from a muddle earned him the nickname “telescopic leg.”
As well as playing 406 times in the league for Blackburn Rovers, Eckersley also accumulated 17 caps for England at a time when the national side was one of the best in the world. His last appearance for England came in the 6-3 defeat to Hungary at Wembley, a match frequently described as one of the greatest of all time.
5. Bryan Douglas – 438 appearances, 1952-1969
To have a stand named after you is a universal mark of respect in football. The Darwen End at Ewood Park has been officially known as the Bryan Douglas Darwen End since 2012.
The winger was a one-club man, playing for Rovers for 17 years between 1952 and 1969, scoring over a century of goals in the process, making him the club’s 5th all-time goalscorer.
He was part of the Rovers side which won promotion to the top-tier in 1958 and reached the FA Cup Final in 1960. He also played 36 times for England, scoring 11 times and appearing at the 1962 World Cup in Chile.
4. Simon Garner – 484 appearances, 1978-1992
For Blackburn Rovers fans, this man needs no introduction. Simon Garner is the club’s all-time record goalscorer, with 192 strikes in all competitions between 1978 and 1992.
He came through the ranks with Rovers as an apprentice and was part of the side that won the Full Members’ Cup in 1987. In his first full campaign with the club, he would see Rovers promoted from the third-tier.
12 years later, his final season with the club saw Rovers promoted to the Premier League. Three seasons later, they would win the division. It was fitting that Garner’s last act in blue and white was to contribute towards this great triumph, even if he wasn’t on the pitch himself.
3. Bob Crompton – 530 appearances, 1896-1920
Bob Crompton was one of the finest players of his bygone generation. A stupendously talented right-back, he began his football career in the 1890s, making the first of 530 league appearances for the club in the season when Rovers won their third successive FA Cup title, the only team ever to do so.
Crompton was a key figure in the side that won the First Division twice, in 1912 and 1914. He also won 41 caps for England at a time when competition was fierce.
He also won the FA Cup with Rovers as a manager in 1928 in the first of two spells in the dugout with the club. In the second, Crompton saw the club promoted from the Second Division as champions. Few players have had such success with the club.
2. Ronnie Clayton – 581 appearances, 1950-1969
Bryan Douglas has a stand named after him at one end of the ground, and Ronnie Clayton has one at the other. The Ronnie Clayton Blackburn End was named after the superlative winger in 2011, a year after his sad passing.
Another one-club man, Clayton could easily have moved elsewhere and won more trophies but stayed loyal to his club. He was part of the side that won promotion to the First Division in 1958 and reached the FA Cup Final in 1960.
He collected 35 England caps and, alongside fellow Preston-native Tom Finney, is widely described as one of the greatest players in the history of the English game. He is almost without peer in terms of Rovers legends.
1. Derek Fazackerley – 596 appearances, 1969-1987
The man with the most Blackburn Rovers appearances, Derek Fazackerley, was a tough-tackling centre-back who represented the club between 1969 and 1987. In that time, he played just shy of 600 times for Rovers in the league, scoring 23 goals in the process.
He saw the club promoted twice from the Third Division and narrowly miss out on promotion through the play-offs on a handful of occasions. His last season with the club coincided with the Full Members’ Cup victory. His was not a trophy-heavy career, but it was fitting that his time at Rovers ended with silverware.