IT has been quite a week for Craig Liddle. Sacked on Monday, he saw the club he loves brought back from the brink on Wednesday.
Unsure thereafter how official his reinstatement as caretaker manager is, he trained eight professionals – Paul Arnison and Graeme Lee being injury doubts – on Thursday and yesterday.
Today, administration-depleted Darlington host Fleetwood Town, second-top of Blue Square Bet Premier and 1-11 on to win it, having first been told by the Football Conference they could, then that they could not, take advantage of the offer of loan players from a number of clubs, including Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough.
To top it off, his boiler’s bust!
No wonder he’s struggling to sleep, but at least his club is “alive and kicking”.
Liddle has been overwhelmed by the support of volunteers, former club staff, the police and even an old mate, a Newcastle fan he hadn’t seen in years, who knocked on his door this week offering to sweep the Neasham Road changing rooms. And far from being overawed by this afternoon’s daunting challenge, he means to reward all involved with victory.
Two, in fact.
This morning, his youth team take on Lincoln City’s at Houghall College in Durham, before Liddle bolts down the A1 to prepare a side which yesterday met with administrator Harvey Madden to negotiate a three-game match fee.
Whether he will play an on-field part in that team himself depends, by his own admission, on a “worst-case scenario” but, having registered himself and reclaimed his old No 4 shirt, he is prepared, if not fully so.
Either way, here’s hoping he’s had a good night’s sleep.
“I’m shattered, I woke up at about 2am on Friday and had two or three hours when I couldn’t get back to sleep,” said Liddle, who has been allowed to sign 17-year-old Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford on loan. “Then my boiler broke down, I’ve got no heating or hot water in my house. So the wife and kids aren’t happy – they’re freezing!