Date: 5th October 2006 at 9:06am
Written by:

Full Name: Jack Walker
Date of Birth: 19th May 1929 – 17th August 2000, Blackburn
Nationality: English
Role: Former Blackburn Rovers Chairman
Arrived: Took over as Chairman in 1991

Jack Walker’s money was made in the steel industry but his heart always did, and always will belong to Blackburn Rovers Football Club.

After leaving school at 14-years of age he began working as a sheet metal worker, before taking over the family business with his brother Fred. Together they transformed the company with Jack Walker selling the company to British Steel for £360 million in 1990.

Walker retreated to Jersey as a tax exile in the mid 1970’s, and in 1986, at the request of the chairman at the time Bill Fox, Walker or Uncle Jack as he is fondly known to the Rovers fans donated funds for a new Stand at Ewood Park, known as The WalkerSteel Stand. Upon selling WalkerSteel to British Steel he purchased Jersey European Airlines also acquiring various property interests.

Walker then took over Blackburn Rovers, buying a 62% controlling stake in 1991 with them in the old Second Division and began ploughing millions into the club, £20 million of which would be used on redeveloping the stadium and millions more on funding the big money transfers of many footballers.

He would convince Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish out of his self-imposed retirement, having earlier resigned from his managerial post at Anfield. Under Dalglish, the money started to flow and promotion to the newly renamed Premier League would be achieved via the play-offs at the end of the 1991-1992 season.

More signings and high-profile signings at that would be made using Uncle Jack’s money. The British transfer record was smashed to land Alan Shearer for £3.5 million from Southampton in 1992. These signings helped Rovers to finish fourth in the League, before finishing the following season as runners up to Manchester United.

Breaking the transfer record again to land Chris Sutton for £5 million for the 1994-1995 season would see Walker’s ultimate achievement as his side, in only their third season back in the top flight won the 1995 Premiership Title on a dramatic final day of the season battle. Despite Rovers’ defeat, ironically against Dalglish’s former side Liverpool a Manchester United draw with West Ham United wouldn’t be enough to deny the club their first Title in 81 years.

Not even Uncle Jack’s millions could sustain Rovers’ success. With the Premiership becoming big business top footballers from the continent were being attracted, but the lure of a small Lancashire town would not appeal to too many of them. Walker and Rovers had millions but they were not a big club, with their fan base small the ground would rarely be full.

The decline began under Roy Hodgson and then his successor Brian Kidd, with whom Rovers would be his first taste of sole responsibility for a team, having previously worked for many years under Sir Alex Ferguson’s leadership, the club would be relegated. Not even a plea from an emotional Walker ahead of a crucial relegation match in 1999 could save the club.

The club Walker loved and had built up, vowing at any costs to bring the Title back to Ewood Park as he had, had been relegated at the end of the 1998-1999 season, just four years after winning the Premiership. The disappointment could not be hidden by the tearful man who as well as being the financial benefactor was also their biggest fan.

Jack Walker, a Blackburn Rovers fan through and through would never be afraid to dip his hand into his pocket for the club he’d always supported and loved yet sadly he would not be able to see this club return to the top flight as he passed away at the age of 71 after losing his battle against cancer early during the 2000-2001 season as Rovers finished as runners up in the old Division One thereby returning to the top flight where they have remained, and indeed again started moving forward.

Never once could Walkers commitment to the club be called into question, this is how he would once explain his love for the club, what it meant to him and why he was happy to be so committed to Blackburn Rovers Football Club:

You have to get pleasure out of it.

It has put Blackburn back on the up and shown that if you believe in things they can be done.

If they don’t win then I am bloody miserable on a Sunday.”

As already said Uncle Jack’s money was made in the steel industry but his heart always did, and always will belong to Blackburn Rovers Football Club…

Related Article: The team that Jack built – click here to read it

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13 Replies to “There’s only one…Jack Walker”

  • fantastic article I must admit , Walker brought a breath of fresh air to the prem in blackburn when Man U were in danger of letting it become stale …. I will always remember that season you won the title SAS partnership was the best I have ever seen , combined with Flowers in goal , Hendry in defense, Sherwood, Wilcox, Ripley, Batty, Le Saux, Berg .,…. the list goes on and on !

  • You do have to admit that that team that won the league was prob one of the best assembled, even now!! Jack Walker was one in a million chairman for a football club, as a fan and a smart business man, who would do everything to make his hometown club better without going in too deep money wise.

  • Thanks again dazednconfuzed for your comments. It certainly woke up a few people didn’t it, especially Man Utd. The little club over throwing the giant! Rovers set the bench mark really didn’t they which others followed, sadly the draw of the club, despite the money wouldn’t eventually be enough as others spent as big, if not bigger to over take and pull away from them.

  • I think you are right Clint, you’d be hard pushed to find a team better assembled ever again. Image what it would have cost in todays market! Uncle Jack was one in a million, you don’t get many Chairman that are actually fans of the club as well do you, if yo get this you know you will always get the best from the man or woman despite them being business persons as well. A lot of Chairman become fans but don’t start out that way. Smart, clever and caring chairman, simply the best!

  • It was Jack’s money that was the catalyst for Kenny putting together a team rather than an group of highly priced players. Jack would never pay other the odds (a lesson not learnt by the Glaziers and Ambramovich) but what did for us in the end was a need to build on the success – Shearer doing a u-turn after shaking hands on a deal with Jack hurt him and it also affected the relationship with Kenny.

    We finally have a replacement for King Kenny in Mark “Sparky” Hughes – the team want to play for him.

    But more importantly, the prem looks to be a closer run thing this season all of the “top” 4 have dropped points already. The likes of ourselves, Everton, Bolton, Spurs & Villa are playing better and getting points – it won;t be long before another smaller club takes the title.

  • True EER, people should learn from Walker and think maybe throwing money at a problem isn’t always the solution, you have to spend it wisely. I hope that you are right, for the sake of English football a smaller team needs to break the strangle hold on the English game again, maybe this could be Rovers, who knows? Certainly the teams you mentioned, plus maybe another couple will be thinking they could well do it sometime soon.

  • Jack Walker built a team for one thing – to win the Premiership! That was achieved without spending over the odds, unlike Leeds did to there costs, it shows it could be done, although granted the money back 10/11yrs ago was pocket change for a certain Roman! the man helped put togther a TEAM that worked, not just gifted individuals. Some of the players were made through playing for the club and as was shown moved on

  • The amount Rovers spent (which I’ll reveal in an article soon!) is probably more like Chelsea would spent on ONE player now!

  • Plus most of the team was English or from the home countries. No-one has come close to matching that record in itself, let alone the money it took to get them in

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