Colin Hendry: The Bravest Rover
Games (Rovers): 408
Goals (Rovers): 35
International Caps (Rovers): 35
Promotion winner (1992)
Premier League Champion (94/95)
Scottish domestic treble (98/99)
Born on the 7th December 1965, Hendry began his professional career with Dundee, where he remained as a relative unknown for four seasons. This all changed when in 1987, then Blackburn manager Don Mackay signed him for 30 000. Initially playing up forward, Hendry was gradually converted into a tenacious defender. Even so, he managed to score 22 goals in his first few seasons with Rovers and was well known for his up field charges with the ball. The most famous of his early goals was the winner in the 1987 Full Members` Cup, giving Rovers their first piece of silverware in 27 years.
However, by the end of the 1989 season, Rovers defence was leaking goals and a frustrated Hendy found himself on the bench. Despite this, it was still shocking for the fans when Hendry departed for Manchester City under a cloud of managerial and contractual dispute.
Initially successful at City (winning their player of the year award), Hendry again found himself on the sidelines after another fall out with the manager. With the coming of Jack Walker and Kenny Dalglish, the time came for Hendry to return to Blackburn. Dalglish was able to take advantage of the managerial situation and bought back Hendry for 700 000 at the beginning of 1992.
Courage and silver
This began the most successful period for Blackburn Rovers since the Crompton era. Forming a partnership with Kevin Moran, Hendry took his game to another level and built his reputation as an uncompromising and courageous defender. With the influx of new players, money from the board and 25 years out of the top-flight, the time was ripe for Rovers to claim their rightful spot in the Premier League. It all came down to a game against Leicester City, where Rovers took an early lead via a Mike Newell penalty. Hendry then marshalled his defensive forces, tackling like a man possessed to ensure a clean sheet and promotion to the Premier League.
Hendry became a constant in a period of great change for Rovers. Off field, Ewood Park was being rebuilt. Shearer won the footballer of the year award and attendances at games were climbing. On field, Rovers were a feared unit. With the 'SAS` (Shearer and Sutton) providing quality up front, Hendry`s` defensive heroics were not forgotten by the faithful. His second and third efforts on the ball were cheered by a rejuvenated Blackburn crowd and while his darting runs up field were becoming less with the wisdom of age, Hendry never lost his eye for goal.
It was in this scene of great change that Rovers qualified for the UEFA cup, finishing 2nd in `94. But even this great achievement paled in comparison to `95, where the Rovers were once again on top; winning the Premier League title by a single point. Hendry`s presence at the back was instrumental in this achievement and won him a place in the PFA Premiership team of the season. He was part of a defensive unit who were the rock on which the Premiership was won. Hendry`s work rate and courageous defending continued to endear him to the Blackburn public. By lifting the Premiership trophy as a defender, he had cemented the legend that had begun in `87 with his striking brilliance. At Rovers, Hendry had come full circle and perhaps this foreshadowed the shock that was to come.
The 95/96 season saw the inaugural year of the Champions league, in which a much criticised Rovers fell just short of the quarter finals. There was a continued failure in domestic cup competitions and after the retirement of Kenny Dalglish, even league results soon went into a tailspin. Hendry endured this and the off field coaching merry-go-round, which saw the likes of Harford, Hodgson and the ever present Tony Parkes having managerial stints. After a workable 97/98 season which brought European qualification, Colin Hendry asked the unthinkable. It was the eve of his testimonial year when Hendry put in his transfer request. After 408 games, 35 goals and a Premiership medallion, Blackburn`s Braveheart returned home to Scotland.
Life After Rovers
Perhaps this was an inevitable move for Hendry, who was sold to Rangers for 4 million. In his native Scotland, Hendry was as much of a hero as he remains at Rovers. After starting his international career in 1992, he went on to Captain them in the 1998 World Cup and earned a total of 51 caps. Scoring 3 goals at international level, Hendry was forced into retirement after elbowing Nicola Albani in March 2001 and earning a 6 match suspension. Ironically, this was the same year he was inducted into the Scottish football Hall of Fame.
This incident marked Hendry`s tumultuous post-Rovers career. After moving, he soon found himself on the outer at Dick Advocat`s Rangers and moved to Coventry City in 2000. From there, he was ushered onto Bolton, spent time at Preston North End on loan and finally, finished his playing career with 14 league appearances for Blackpool. In 2004 he moved into managing, which proved to be largely unsuccessful. He was fired from Blackpool after only five months, spent nine months as an assistant at Boston United and eventually, became manager of Scottish First Division`s Clyde FC. Here Hendry enjoyed some success, but left the job to be with his wife whose health was rapidly deteriorating.
Hendry`s time in football was never far from controversy. In conflict with coaches or fighting tooth and nail for the ball, Hendry had become Braveheart to the Blackburn faithful. Although his transfer request shocked many, Colin still holds a very dear place in the hearts of all blue and white blooded Rovers. When we needed a goal, there was Hendry. When we needed a clean sheet, there was Hendry. And when we needed someone to fight to the death and show no regard for his own safety, there was Colin 'Braveheart` Hendry. One of the greatest defenders Blackburn has ever seen, and perhaps the bravest of them all.
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