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Sports blog: It's been a year to forget for our trio
REMEMBER those times, at the start of 2010, when East Lancashire football was at its highest point for almost half a century.
Blackburn Rovers may have had greater days since then, but in terms of collective success not since the 1961/62 campaign had the presence of both Rovers and Burnley in the top flight coincided with Accrington Stanley holding Football League status.
The turn of the year was a time to be proud of our region, indeed. Hope you enjoyed those few hours before it started to go wrong.
January 8 and December 13 will go down as the most significant dates in East Lancashire football this year, maybe even in the history of Burnley and Rovers for years to come.
Yet the writing was on the wall for Burnley seven days earlier, on New Year’s Day, as the bookmakers suspended the betting on Owen Coyle becoming the next manager of Bolton Wanderers.
Sam Allardyce would follow Coyle out of the area by the end of 2010, even if in his case the decision was not his own. Neither club has fared sensationally since.
While Burnley have declined steadily in the 11 months since Coyle’s departure, losing their place in the Premier League in the process, Rovers have crammed all their catastrophes into the space of two weeks.
Fans would have been rather baffled on January 1 if they had been told that by December Diego Maradona and Steve Kean, those two footballing peas in a pod, would be among the leaders in the betting for the manager’s job.
Even at Accrington Stanley, that club of consistent improvement, 2010 has not been their finest year.
A play-off challenge fizzled out alarmingly and they now find themselves near the bottom of League Two.
John Coleman remains at Stanley, but Rovers and Burnley are not clubs vast enough to cope with the loss of figures like Allardyce and Coyle.
They do not have the funds of a Tottenham or the fanbase of a Liverpool to expect to compete without a genuinely exceptional man at the helm.
A number of disgruntled supporters at Burnley suggested the Clarets would be better off without Coyle when he left, while long before Allardyce departed some Rovers fans believed their club would be improved by his exit.
The reality, it seems, could be somewhat different.