IT would perhaps be a touch over-dramatic and ever-so slightly unfair to describe the 15-minute walk from Coatbridge train station to Cliftonhill Stadium as the Green Mile.

But take it from a man who knows, there were times when a sit down in old sparky at the end of such a maudlin meander through this Lanarkshire town would have been preferable to watching Albion Rovers.

At least you would have been warm and, sorry to say this, watching Scottish football’s worst senior team wasn’t much better than the sweet nothingness of death.

It was always wet. Even on sunny days. And cold, of course. Even on the hot days. Albion, as they like to be called, never won. For over six months in the 1992/93 season when I was one of two reporters sitting in the back of a stand sharing the same phone to call in cope, they didn’t even score goal.

The table from that season confirms ‘The Wee Rovers’ finished bottom of the Scottish League Division Two, last place of all the senior clubs, and that they won six games. I can’t remember one of them.

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Also, who on earth are the ‘Big Rovers?’ Melchester, presumably.

That I choose to spend my Saturdays at Coatbridge's San Siro reporting on a team so bad that my 19-year-old self had a half-decent chance of making the bench, is testament to my determination of becoming a journalist and evidence of leaving me school without a single thing apart from a bottle of whisky my mate Gareth and I nicked from the staffroom. True story.

If you didn't graft, you wouldn't get picked up.

Covering Albion for Sunday and daily newspapers was a great grounding. The club were lovely to this teenager without a clue. And sometimes a pen. I’ve always kept an eye out for them.

They were the first club I, sort of, covered. Ask anyone who does this job and they’ll tell you that you never forget your first. Even if they never call again.

But it’s a hard shift playing, supporting or being on the board. Never mind trying to come up with ten paragraphs about a 0-0 draw against East Stirlingshire.

Albion Rovers have tried everything to get more people to the game, even once appealing to the local Polish community, but they are what they are have always been. Tiny.

I covered a break in at Cliftonhill, a few years ago now, when windows were smashed, seats broken, and the response from local businesses was an offer to sort out everything for free. Last January, I sat down with a few board members to talk about them being drawn against Celtic in the Scottish Cup.

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Two very different stories but the headline was effectively the same: Albion Rovers are saved. That’s how close to the edge this football has lived for many years.

Kevin Harper was given the task a few months ago of, you’ve guessed it, saving Albion Rovers. I like Kevin and admired him from taking on the job, in the way I admire nurses working in A&E on a Saturday night.

I’m just glad that I don’t have to do it.

Harper’s new team were bottom when he joined and still are, facing a play-off to stay in the senior league. Should they got out of the senior system there is every chance that Albion Rovers will be no more.

Indeed, a quick glance online at a fans page tells me that even if they do stay up, some fear the game is almost up. Attendances are going down if anything and part-time players can earn more in the junior leagues.

Not many will care if this happened. The only reason I do is because of the fond memories I have – I'm actually a sucker for rubbish football – and I know how hard people work behind the scenes just to keep the lights on.

Sure, there are only a few hundred supporters, but they're a passionate lot. This club is a big part of their lives.

They lost their first eleven games of the season. Every time I looked at League Two, or so it felt, they were on seven points with everyone else miles ahead.

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However, things have slowly, very slowly, changed. Harper has the team playing a bit. They won last Saturday, away to Stirling Albion, having drawn at home with Berwick Rangers, their relegation rivals, the week before.

And thanks to Clyde fielding an ineligible player against then, Albion were awarded a 3-0 win. Suddenly, there are only two points between them and Berwick with eight games to go. The penultimate match is at Berwick.

Should Harper manage to guide his team – with an average age of about 14 – to ninth place and avoid the play-offs, it would be one hell of a job and proof that a man who couldn’t even get an interview from anyone has something about him.

Saving Albion Rovers would be a small story but a good one and we need a bit of that.

And Another Thing

ALEX McLeish can only play with the hand he's been dealt, and the deck is mightily stacked against the big man.

We are always just a few call-offs away from looking like a B squad and with Kieran Tierney and Callum McGregor not 100 per cent, two of our best players, Allan McGregor now retired, almost every striker unavailable and doubts over a few more who might start, it doesn't leave us with very much.

I feel sorry for McLeish. No other national team manager has had to put up with losing players because they can't play on astrotruf.

As always, I fear the worst but hope for the best. If we can take six points it would one hell of an achievement.