A LIFELONG Blur fan from West Kilbride has recalled chatting to members of the band on board a CalMac ferry from Gourock to Dunoon more than 25 years ago - and has added his voice to calls for the band to make a return to the Clyde.

Gourock's outdoor swimming pool features on the front cover of the band's ninth album, The Ballad of Darren.

The picture was taken in 2004 by British photographer Martin Parr and shows an individual swimmer, Ian Galt, swimming in the popular pool.

And the release of the album sparked one particularly strong memory for die-hard fan Callum Robertson.

Callum, who lives in Largs, was working as a purser on the CalMac crossing back in September 1995 when the indie music kings were on their way to Dunoon to play a gig at the Queens Hall - and freely admitted to being starstruck.

Callum, 47, said: "It was well before the days of camera phones - it was the days of Kodak disposables!

"Remember this was before the internet or mobile phones, so we didn't even think of taking cameras.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Blur were Kings of Britpop in 1990s - and have legendary status amongst their fansBlur were Kings of Britpop in 1990s - and have legendary status amongst their fans (Image: Blur)

"I worked for Cal Mac and was on the Saturn and the Jupiter ferries.

"I was working on the day, and was going to the concert at night at Queen's Hall in Dunoon. I got my tickets from Rhythmic Records in Greenock, and it was just before Country House was released - and Matt Lucas was the support act.

"My friend Sandy Thompson and I headed to the gig."

"Blur were travelling over on a tour bus and sitting on top of the tour bus and casually chatting to all the car deck passengers.

"The concert was brilliant. There were only a couple of hundred tickets, and that was a time when they were doing a tour of small towns and villages all round the UK.

"They did all their big hits from the albums Parklife and Modern Life Is Rubbish - and it was around the time Country House was about to come out as their big single

"I chatted to them briefly - and they said they said they were enjoying the scenery and coming to Scotland, and we were asking them about the Battle of the Bands with Oasis!"

That battle had seen the two biggest bands in 'Britpop' go head-to-head just a month before the Dunoon gig, with Blur releasing Country House in the same week as the Oasis single Roll With It hit the shelves for the first time.

It was a battle won by Blur, though opinions vary over who emerged victorious in the medium and longer term.

Callum continued: "My favourites were always Blur - and it such a great thing about their new album cover showing Gourock outdoor swimming pool.

"Even at that point in time it was the era of proper music - you had Elastica, Blur and all the big bands of the 1990s. 

"I was seeing them almost at the start of their rise.

"I was a pursuer on board the ferry, and obviously all the crew were out looking at Blur in the car deck. 

"They were great days - it was a fantastic memory and I am so glad I got the opportunity to see them live and even chat to them.

"I must have only been 19 or 20. All the crew on board wanted to see Blur in the car deck. 

"It was an incredible time as Dodgy performed in Gourock and Gene in Word Up in Greenock.

"It brings back all the memories of being a youngster and having your whole life ahead of you. 

"It was crazy seeing them perform on a stage in a village hall which is probably more used to school productions!"

Callum, who is married to Susan and lives in Largs, said he'd love for Blur to perform live in Gourock all these years later.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: New cover sparks memories of Blur's previous visit to InverclydeNew cover sparks memories of Blur's previous visit to Inverclyde (Image: Blurofficial)

"It is fantastic that they have selected this photo for their new album," he said.

"Blur should come and have a swim there and then do a gig - and they will be able to see the Queens Hall from the pool!

"It is a great thing for the west coast of Scotland and Inverclyde. The album cover is very similar in colours and style to their fourth studio album, The Great Escape, and it will be interesting to hear the tracks when they are released."

The album is scheduled for release on July 21 by Parlophone and Warner Bros. Records. The album was written by Damon Albarn, mainly while he was touring with Gorillaz. It was produced by James Ford at Studio 13 in London and Devon.

The band's website offers vinyl, CD and cassette versions of the album as well as T-shirts featuring the Gourock Lido front cover.