Football is an unforgiving and at times cruel business as once more shown by Tuesday night’s sacking of Raith boss Gary Locke and his assistant Darren Jackson.
Prior to the 41-year-old former Hearts, Bradford City and Kilmarnock player succeeding Ray McKinnon in the Stark’s Park hot-seat, I had never met Locke.
However, on my regular journeys to the club’s Glenrothes training base this season, I quickly found him to be a genuine nice guy who never dodged the difficult questions.
He was thoroughly professional at all times and it was clear to see as the players sat around eating their breakfast in matching tracksuits before heading out to the training pitch that he had worked hard on building a good spirit within the squad.
There were no cliques with the players banned from bringing their mobiles to training with Locke insisting it was good to talk as they had their meals together.
That squad contained the nucleus of the team which had made the promotion play-offs under McKinnon’s stewardship last season and Locke seemed to keep that momentum going at the start of this campaign winning eight out of his first 16 games in charge including Rovers’ opening three Championship fixtures.
However, things began to unravel after what turned out to be the last victory of Locke’s tenure against Queen of the South on October 29.
A lack of goals saw the Kirkcaldy side draw too many games and as the weeks rolled by, they could not buy a win.
There was a brief ray of hope after Rovers took Premiership Hearts to a replay in the Scottish Cup last month although they ultimately lost the tie but those two games were followed by a dispiriting home reverse to Dumbarton and Saturday’s tame 3-0 defeat to Dundee United at Tannadice.
Tuesday night’s loss to Morton – Rovers sixth successive league defeat – was the final nail in Locke’s managerial coffin with the club board acting quickly after the final whistle.
The players have to accept their share of the blame for what has gone wrong but Locke, whose initial appointment was certainly a controversial one, will no doubt also be questioning himself.
However, following his departure, Raith are now only four points in front of Ayr United who are second bottom in the relegation play-off spot.
Rovers have a bit of breathing space before their next game against league leaders Hibs a week on Saturday but the board will undoubtedly look to bring a new manager in sooner rather than later.
Who that will be is anyone’s guess but what is certain is he will need to very quickly rebuild the confidence of a group of players who have completely lost the habit of winning games of football.