Shearer and Sutton reunited 25 years after title win at Blackburn

‘We just clicked… it was a dream’: Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton are reunited by Sportsmail 25 years after their incredible title win with Blackburn as ‘SAS’ take a trip down memory lane

  • It has been 25 years since Blackburn Rovers won the Premier League title 
  • Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton led the way up front to push them on to glory 
  • The pair said they clicked thanks to a ‘dream’ system for forwards to thrive in
  • Speaking on a Zoom call, they reminisced about their famous 1994-95 season 

Alan Shearer, doused in champagne during a live television interview moments earlier, lifts the Premier League trophy with his left hand. Chris Sutton takes the other side with his right.

Together they raise it towards Anfield’s away end, and the photographers who have been clamouring for the perfect picture of ‘The SAS’ have their shot.

The 1994-95 season is over and Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn Rovers are champions of England. They have pipped Manchester United to the title by a point and the relief, after coming so close to throwing it away, is overwhelming.

Shearer, with collar up, stares at his medal in disbelief. Sutton kisses his. Even Liverpool’s supporters are applauding, partly because Dalglish is a winner but also because United are losers. 

To celebrate the 25-year anniversary of Blackburn’s title triumph, Sportsmail got the SAS back together. In the spirit of lockdown, Kieran Gill conducted the interview over video app Zoom.

Chris Sutton (left) has been reminiscing over Blackburn’s title win with Alan Shearer (right) 

The former strike partnership hoist up the Premier League trophy in the famous 94-95 season

Chris Sutton signed for Blackburn in July 1994, leaving Norwich City for £5million, a British record. After finishing fourth in the Premier League then second, Dalglish wanted to add some oomph to the squad. But our columnist, who was 21 at the time, has a confession…

Chris Sutton: I got arrested the night before I moved to Blackburn! I went out with a few of the Norwich lads, was giving it the big one, dived headfirst into a convertible Mini and bent the indicator.

I went into a nightclub, then the police came in to arrest me! So I went out of the fire exit, jumped into a taxi and tried to get myself home. But they followed me.

I’m ashamed to say I spent the night in a cell! I was worried about my move, of course, but all I could think at the time was: ‘My dad is going to kill me.’ That was awful. Did Kenny ever find out? It was on the front page of The Sun! I had to phone him, but he laughed it off. The deal had already gone through, I’d signed the contract, so there wasn’t too much he could do! We’ve all made mistakes!

Sutton admitted he was arrested the night before he signed for Blackburn Rovers in 1994

Alan Shearer: It’s 25 years… that’s mad. I remember in the Southampton dressing room when I was a kid Jimmy Case said to us young lads: “Make sure you enjoy your football because before you know it, it’s over”.

I used to think: “He’s only saying that because he’s coming towards the end of his career”. But you don’t appreciate it until it is over, actually — 25 years is mad.

Kieran Gill: Chris, what made you choose Blackburn? Did Alan influence your decision?

CS: I had a number of clubs in for me. The two who had agreed the £5m fee at the time were Arsenal and Blackburn. It was a choice between Ian Wright or Shearer!

I know what you’re thinking — you’re thinking it was all about the money! And that was part of it, but the main reason was Alan and Blackburn had pushed Manchester United the season before. They seemed more likely to challenge for a title.

That was my reasoning, and Kenny played a major part, too.

AS: We didn’t have a lot of time to work together, Chris and I, but it just clicked.

He knew what I was doing, much like when I was playing with Teddy Sheringham for England. We were playing a dream system for forwards, with the two wingers we had in Jason Wilcox and Stuart Ripley.

It was designed to score goals, and fortunately we both did.

Shearer said he and Sutton were playing in ‘a dream system’ that was ‘designed to score goals’

CS: Wilcox and Ripley had a tremendous work-rate. Their service was second to none.

I would never say we were the most free-flowing or stylish team in Premier League history but we were extremely effective. If you have strengths, why not use them?

We don’t have to sit here and defend the way we played. It worked for us. We were streetwise. We knew how to win games.

AS: Sutty, I don’t know if you remember, but I missed all of our pre-season (ahead of their title-winning campaign). Then we played Southampton away in our first game and we just clicked. Then the next game, Leicester at home, we both scored. We were suited to that system. It worked.

At Blackburn’s training ground is a framed picture of Shearer and Sutton, both with back to the camera but with arms around one another. Underneath a quote reads: ‘Play for the name on the front of the shirt and they’ll remember the name on the back.’

Contrary to some suggestions they did not see eye to eye, these two did get along off the pitch, and we all know what they did on it.

But in his early days, the man who would go on to become a Celtic goalscoring legend alongside Henrik Larsson was a central defender for Norwich. During that time, Sutton got to know the name of Shearer as closely as anyone.

CS: I played against Alan as a young centre half at Carrow Road — I was at Norwich and you were at Southampton. You were strong. 

I’m not saying you had an enormous backside but trying to get round you to get the ball… that was the first time it really registered for me.

Sutton reflects on playing against a young Shearer at Southampton, saying he was ‘so strong’

Shearer started his career at the Saints, staying for five years before joining Blackburn in 1992

AS: Did you not play in that game when Blackburn beat Norwich 7-1 at Ewood Park?

CS: Yes, but I didn’t want to mention that!

AS: You weren’t centre half then as well, were you?

CS: Allegedly! That’s a game which sticks in the memory because you put Ian Butterworth on his a*** on the track on the far side of the ground!

Then afterwards, he said to the press I needed to keep my head up, yet he was the one at fault for three of the goals!

That was the first Premier League season, in 1992-93.

Norwich were pushing to win it that year. In the end, we became the only team ever to finish in the top three with a negative goal difference. But that 7-1… you got lucky with that chipped goal, though, didn’t you? The ball just bobbled up nicely!

AS: Yeah, righto!

CS: And yet Kenny still signed me!

AS: Your patter must have been good!

In one of the greatest Premier League rants, Blackburn keeper Tim Flowers had his say after a man-of-the-match performance against Newcastle.

It was the penultimate game of the season and after some rocky results, Blackburn won 1-0.

‘Don’t talk to me about bottle,’ Flowers said afterwards, stood in the tunnel of Ewood Park. ‘Don’t talk to me about bottling it, because that’s bottle out there. We’re going to fight to the death, because we’ve got bottle. 

‘We will give exactly what we have given all season, and that is 100 per cent bottle.’

Blackburn keeper Tim Flowers was key to help the team beat Newcastle in the title race

AS: That was one of the finest goalkeeping performances I’ve ever seen. He kept us in the game. We got battered by Newcastle at Ewood Park. How we won that game, I’m not quite sure. He said ‘bottle’ about 500 times. He was a tad excited. We all were. We lost three of our last five games after having a really decent record. You could tell we were panicking.

CS: Had the referees been on our side we would have been going to Anfield on that final day with feet up and cigars out. Remember that game against Manchester United at Ewood Park?

AS: United beat us 4-2.

CS: We went 1-0 up but then had a man sent off.

AS: Henning Berg, I think it was.

CS: That was an appalling decision. The game was turned on its head. Eric Cantona scored the penalty and they went on to beat us 4-2. So we had the referees against us, as well!

The grand finale. May 14, 1995, Blackburn head to Liverpool knowing a win would crown them champions. United head to West Ham knowing a win might hand them the title instead.

At the start of stoppage time, it is 1-1 in both matches, then Jamie Redknapp makes it 2-1 to Liverpool. Suddenly, every Blackburn fan is asking: ‘What is the score at Upton Park?’

A United winner and it was curtains. The SAS had scored 49 league goals between them but they were one away from it all being rendered worthless. Then, full time. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men have been held to a draw, and Blackburn are champions.

Hands that were holding heads in the away end are lifted in the air, Dalglish hugs his assistant Ray Harford, and Anfield erupts.

CS: I remember going to the game, on the coach, and feeling drained. We had been eight points clear with six games to go. I was thinking: ‘What if we don’t get over the line now?’ All the theories going into the game were: ‘It’s Liverpool. Their dislike for United means they’ll chuck it.’ But that was never going to be the case.

AS: Kenny, Ray and Tony Parkes wanted to treat it as a normal day, even though it was anything but.

We were nervous, and under huge pressure. It was a strange atmosphere because Liverpool fans didn’t want United to win the title.

They didn’t want their team to lose but if their team won then that gave United a chance.

Jamie Redknapp (R) scored the winner for Liverpool against Sutton’s side but wanted Blackburn to win the title 

CS: Do you think we lacked experience on the pitch?

AS: We had Kenny, who had been there and done it as Liverpool manager. But we were definitely lacking in comparison to United.

They were gunning for us. There was pressure being put on us and Fergie was a master at that, wasn’t he? We got off to a decent start at Anfield. We both should have scored in the second half, me and Chris. But we didn’t and we were punished.

There was only three or four seconds when I thought: “We’ve lost it”. Then all of a sudden, the whole of Anfield started going mad. That was when we knew we’d won it.

JAMIE REDKNAPP ON SCORING AGAINST BLACKBURN 

I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate my late winner against Blackburn on May 14, 1995 and nor could a lot of Liverpool supporters. 

There were 40,000 at Anfield but the place went eerily quiet. Every single person in that stadium wanted to see Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn win the Premier League. 

If they weren’t crowned champions, Manchester United would be! Dalglish was my hero. I wanted him to win the title. But I had to do my job. It was about professional pride. 

My dad was the manager of West Ham and they were facing United. Then news broke of a 1-1 draw at Upton Park, meaning Rovers won the title regardless of my strike. It was the perfect ending for everyone at Anfield. 

CS: In the end, it wasn’t the best result for us, because of course we wanted to win the game and resolve it that way. But for the conspiracy theorists, it panned out all right. United had themselves to blame for the mess they made by not beating West Ham.

KG: Then that iconic picture of you two holding up the trophy at Anfield was taken. What was the overwhelming emotion? I suspect it was one of relief after those iffy results in the run-in.

CS: Well, 25 years on, it’s a major, major, major achievement and we realise that. We went to a French bistro in Preston to celebrate afterwards and that night, for me, was all about relief.

Alan Shearer said Blackburn were steered to glory by the experience of Kenny Dalglish (c)

The class of 1995 reunited 20 years after their title win with Shearer and Sutton in the front row

As the days and weeks went on, we had the celebrations at Ewood Park with the fans. The tension started to ease and it was more elation. But it did take time.

AS: It was the same for me. Huge, huge relief. United were coming for us. Sir Alex was doing everything he could with the media.

As it turned out, I didn’t care whether we lost that game or not. I just wanted to get the title in the bag.

It was an incredible achievement for a team who, four years earlier, were 19th in the Second Division.

I know Leicester did it. But the difference between Leicester and Blackburn was nobody saw Leicester coming. Blackburn were on the cusp of something special and that was what was said to me in my talks with Kenny, Ray and the owner Jack Walker. That was the dream they sold me.




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