THERE'LL be a strange feeling on the Cobh Ramblers team bus come tomorrow evening as they make the near-300km trip to City Calling Stadium, with the front seat not filled by Stephen Henderson for the first time in over four years.
The Rams haven't just been Hendo's team in those years, but his club, with the former professional goalkeeper, alongside with wife Lesley, involved in all aspects of life at St Colman's Park, from top to bottom.
The former boss said that there was 'nothing sinister' in his split with the new board at Ramblers, before giving an interview outlining his unhappiness with several aspects of the club; that his first-team were forced to wear jerseys in their recent First Division game against Bray Wanderers the straw that broke the camel's back.
It means there will be a real air of uncertainty as interim manager Stuart Ashton takes charge alongside assistants Declan Coleman and James Claffey over the direction of the Rams as a club, the future of the players ahead of the upcoming transfer window, and indeed whether this bus will actually get them to Longford on time for the game, having already had transport issues on away trips in 2019, particularly on the way to Drogheda a few months back.
In Ashton, at least, Cobh know they have a steady hand on board to guide them through this unstable period after the break, which begins with a trip to a Longford side desperate to back to winning ways, having thrown away all three points in the final five minutes at the Carlisle Grounds a fortnight ago.
Neale Fenn's side were unbeaten in the league come the start of May, and looking like a serious bet to upset Shelbourne's expected title hoisting come the end of the season. But since their 1-0 defeat away at Cabinteely on the 11th of last month, the Midlanders have lost to Galway (1-2) and Shels (1-0) as well as that 3-2 defeat to Bray, having been 2-1 up in the dying stages.
That now puts Longford four points off league leaders Shelbourne going into the weekend, and Fenn will be desperate to right his ship against the harbour outfit.
Ramblers come into tomorrow's game in decent form, having notched two of their five 2019 victories in the last five games, beating Bray at home at the end of May, and Galway ahead of the break.
Jaze Kabia scored the eventual winner in that game, his second in as many games, and part of a league season tally of eight, tied second overall alongside Drogheda's Mark Doyle.
If he can notch a ninth, that bus journey back may be considerably more comfortable, for everyone involved.