December 28, 2018
So, what would have been unthinkable a year ago has really happened and we gather here at the Mem this afternoon for the first time since 2014 without Darrell Clarke in charge of the team. I will let everyone else have their say on what they think has occurred over the last year and what should happen now but I guess we all agree that ‘DC’s departure is a very sad one.
I got to know Darrell quite well during the time he was with us and we shared quite a few before and after match texts as well as a few jokes about life with Rovers over those four years or so. It was typical of the man that on the afternoon of his departure, with all that must have been going on in his head, that he took the time to send me a text thanking me for my support during that time. He was probably the best Manager the club has ever had in terms of success-rate with consecutive promotions but in the end it all went badly wrong and I suppose the time of departure was right. I loved ‘DC’ to bits but we must keep Rovers up in League 1 at least. We have seen here before just what can happen when a lack of action in this division can quite suddenly become a freefall out of the Football League altogether. As well as our own experience you only have to look at another dozen or so clubs that have taken the headlong plunge downwards from a comfortable mid-table exsistence in the third division. Chesterfield with a fine new ground, Wrexham, home to their then national stadium, Torquay United, Hartlepool, Leyton Orient and several other big names all still struggling to return to former status. So I am glad that action is being taken when there is still time, but not a lot to spare, to make what will undoubtedly be some unpalatable changes to keep the Rovers in League 1. The Club is always bigger than the man but we have indeed lost a big man in our long history. Thanks Darrell, you will be missed!
It had to be that Rovers faced our longest and probably most difficult away game of the whole campaign on the back of Darrell’s departure. What a fantastic response from the travelling ‘Gas’ it was though last Saturday as over 1,500 made the 600-mile round trip to the Stadium of Light in the most appalling weather. Apart from a lick of paint perhaps in the stairwells (eight flights up!) it is indeed a fantastic stadium and the best in League 1 by a country mile even if not in the most solubrious of surroundings! Caretaker boss, Graham Coughlin, summed it up perfectly for me with his after-match comments – a great effort by the lads and we were the better team in the first half but we lost the match again. Meantime please give Graham, Chris and the boys in blue all the support you can this afternoon – every point is vital now!
Up the Pirates!