472 club appearances
Hardly prolific is it?
But is there more to Jason Roberts that meets the eye? In the past I have been one of Jason’s fiercest critics. Being a centre forward, you are judged on goals and goals alone. With the above stats, Jason has hardly set the world alight with goals. I often found myself getting quite frustrated with him because we seemingly had a succession of managers who persevered with putting him in the side. It almost seemed he was getting his pay cheque for doing nothing at all.
The game that helped me start thinking differently about Jason Roberts was back in November 2009 when we played Portsmouth at home. We had quite a poor first half and went into the break 1-0 down. Sam Allardyce introduced both Jason Roberts and Benni McCarthy into the mix, replacing Morten Gamst Pedersen and El Hadji Diouf. A growing sense of discontent soon ensued from me and others sat around me. However, with a goal shortly after the break to make it one goal a piece, my opinion of Roberts and the game was turning on it’s head. The match ended 3-1 to Rovers and that man Jason Roberts scored two. My opinion had changed, he worked hard, scored two goals to help my beloved Rovers to win. What more could I ask for?
Moving onto the 2010 – 2011 season, we were away to Newcastle in the Premier League. With the game evenly matched at one a piece, Jason Roberts scored in the 82nd minute but decided to make a seemingly petulant celebration by refusing to celebrate with any of his team mates and made the point of showing everyone who we was by pointing his surname on the back of shirt. I wasn’t particularly pleased to see this sort of thing and so my opinion was that he was arrogant and only cared for himself.
Onto this season where the entire landscape of Blackburn Rovers has changed dramatically. We have a new manager who is at best a first team coach. We have owners who have no working knowledge of Premier League football or indeed football in general for that matter. Yet Jason Roberts has been at the forefront of supporting both Steve Kean and Venky’s. He gets a tirade of abuse from Rovers fans but he is hardly going to come out and say “Our owners are rubbish and so is Steve Kean” is he? I don’t agree with the amount of abuse Jason gets or indeed any player that plays for Rovers. Keith Andrews is another player that springs to mind when I think of abuse. I agree we need to vent our frustration when players aren’t pulling their weight, but is abuse really necessasary? I don’t think it is.
I met Jason Roberts recently at Rovers training ground. I had a little doubt in my mind that it wouldn’t really go as I planned. But he had met another fan just two days prior to my visit and presented them with Morten Gamst Pedersen’s shirt which he wore against Newcastle in the Carling Cup and also one of his own shirts. I thought this was a great gesture by him but as I was going to meet him to interview him for my Blackburn Rovers fan website, I actually thought it would be a disaster. Was it my confidence or was it my opinion that was clouding my judgement? When he first arrived, the first thing he asked was if I wanted a drink. That settled my nerves down as he wasn’t thinking about himself, more thinking about me – an everyday Rovers fan. I asked him questions ranging from his inspiration for getting into football to the recent protests that have been part of the match day experience for the last three months now. I found him to be one of the most passionate, positive people I have ever met in my whole life. He is very laid back and this made me feel completely at ease in his presence. Especially me asking him difficult questions about his strike rate and what he thought about the protests.
With his charity work, his MBE, his radio appearances and my interview with him; my opinion of Jason Roberts has gone from zero to hero to zero and back to hero again. Why is this? Well it’s simple really. He tells us fans the way he sees things. He’s big enough and ugly enough to take abuse off fans without rising to it. He has time to meet fans i.e. myself. People fail to see Jason Roberts as a person. They see him simply as a Blackburn Rovers employee. But having spoken to Jason face to face, seeing what makes him tick has made me think very differently about him. To be perfectly honest I am usually a good judge of character at times. But this time I will hold my hand up and say, “I was wrong.” Jason Roberts is a great ambassador for Blackburn Rovers and for football in general. He might not score much but in his off field activities make him a wonderful, passionate person to be associated with the sport we all love – football. And to the answer to my first question, is there more to Jason Roberts than meets the eye? I very much think there is.