THE recent events at Bristol Rovers and Darlington brought home just how much things can change in football.
It doesn’t seem two minutes since we were taking on our old rivals Rovers in the 1995 League I play-off final at Wembley.
And we had two tight clashes with them as recently as last season, when each side won 1-0 at the other’s ground.
Rovers, having parted company with two managers in Paul Trollope and Dave Penney during last season, ended up being relegated.
And they are currently a little too close to the League II drop zone for comfort, hence another change of manager, with Mark McGhee coming in to replace Paul Buckle, who has been unable to recreate the success he had at Torquay.
McGhee has a huge amount of experience, and hopefully will be able to lead Rovers away from the danger zone.
It would be a big shame to see them go the same way as Mansfield, the side we beat in the 2004 League II play-off final, and end up in the Conference.
Mind you, retaining Conference status would be great news for the fans of Darlington, who came perilously close to going out of existence last week.
The 128-year-old club, who have £1.8m worth of debts and are in administration for the third time in 10 years, are still not out of the woods by a long chalk.
But the dramatic rescue which came as the Quakers were about to be closed down for good means there is a little more time to keep them afloat.
Darlington have got a fantastic stadium, and I have good memories of the place, having scored there when we won 1-0 back in that 2003-04 promotion campaign.
It’s better than a lot of grounds in League I and II and it would be a huge shame if there was no club playing there.
I had an interesting chat with Chris Atkinson, our promising young midfielder who was on loan at Darlington earlier this season.
Because he knows a lot of the people involved, the recent developments at the club will have brought home to him just how precarious a business professional football can be.
Going to another club often shows you how good things are at your own, and I’m sure the experience Chris gained there will stand him in good stead.
THE campaign for a return to terraced areas at top-level football grounds has been given a boost by Aston Villa’s decision to examine the introduction of a standing section.
Part of their reasoning is that some supporters don’t want to watch sitting down, and I recognise that is true.
But I’m still not comfortable with the idea. A return to terracing is not for me, and it seems like a step backwards.
Standing at grounds will always be associated with the bleak era of the 1980s, of Heysel and Hillsborough.
It’s argued that it wasn’t the terracing which caused the disastrous crush at Hillsborough, rather the layout of the ground, the fences at the front of the Leppings Lane end and mismanagement of crowd control by the police.
Although the Taylor Report into Hillsborough stipulated that only stadia in the top two divisions need be all-seater, there have been huge developments at grounds across the country, and in my eyes, they are all the better for it.
It seems strange when you go to a ground these days and see some terracing, and given the new facilities and the view afforded by seats, do supporters really want to turn the clock back?
Opponents of all-seater stadia claim having terracing would make for cheaper admission prices.
But surely it would cost extra to take out seats and restore terraces, meaning clubs had even more money to recoup.
If you already have seats, why should it become cheaper to stand other than at those few grounds which are full to capacity week in, week out and where you could get more in?
Like I say, all-seater stadia have so far served their purpose.
If something isn’t broke, why fix it?