Date: 23rd January 2018 at 12:57pm
Written by:

ADAM VIRGO never really set the Mem alight as a player.

But as a pundit he certainly knows how to ignite the blue touch paper and stand well back.

Virgo was pretty much over the hill when he joined Bristol Rovers, and a series of subsequent injuries meant he spent much of his time on the sidelines.

It must have been disappointing for a player who had made his name as a no-nonsense centre back at places like Brighton and Celtic. I`m sure he wanted one last hurrah, but instead he had become the forgotten man by the time he hung up his boots.

Signed as part of the Paul Buckle revolution shortly after Rovers were relegated to League Two in 2011, Virgo signed from Yeovil at the age of 28 and was meant to be an integral part of the manager`s brave new world.

He was one of around 10 new signings Buckle bought to the club, as the new boss tried to revive the Gas..

It never happened though. Rovers sank like a stone, Virgo failed to stamp his mark and Buckle got the sack to be replaced by Mark McGhee.

And the Virgo story went from bad to worse when on one memorable occasion at Wimbledon McGhee used him as a centre forward – an experiment that can only be described as a resounding failure as Rovers got hammered and the once proud professional found himself the butt of many a joke among supporters.

Yet if Rovers fans needed a reminder of how far Darrell Clarke has brought us from those dark days, they only had to read Virgo`s column in the Football League paper this weekend.

As the Rovers class of 2018 once again proved their resilience, fortitude and togetherness in a thrilling 3-1 win over promotion chasing Bradford, Virgo gave a succinct appraisal of what went wrong at Rovers before DC came along.

Discussing the fact Bury sacked their manager Chris Lucketti after eight games, he pointed out that on some occasions players had to take the blame as much as the man in charge.

Harking back, he said: “I could probably write a book on what happened behind the scenes during my time at Bristol Rovers.
“Honestly, I could throw loads of players under the bus for the part they played in getting managers sacked.

“But the way football works, players never get the blame. You never know what`s really going on.”

Interesting stuff, and if he did write that book I`m pretty sure I wouldn`t be the only Rovers fan to invest in it.

Still, I was in the 9,000 crowd on Saturday as players and fans celebrated one of those very special days only the Mem can produce.
It`s a warming feeling that though our club is far from perfect, it`s come a long way from the days when players were in it for themselves and managers came and went as often as the average prima donna changes his socks.

Nick Rippington is a national newspaper journalist based in London. He is also award-winning author of UK gangland fiction thrillers Crossing The Whitewash and Spark Out.
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Crossing the Whitewash – HERE
Spark Out –HERE

 

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