Big Interview: Bamber Bridge stalwart Chris Marlow reflects on his 13-year stint at the club
Craig Salmons talks to Bamber Bridge legend Chris Marlow who gave the club more than a decade of unstinting service
Probably never in the history of the beautiful game has a football clubhouse reverberated to the chant of “Goose, Goose, Goose”.
But all that changed on a sun-drenched day in May of 2018 when Chris Marlow struck the promotion-winning goal to send Bamber Bridge soaring into the Northern Premier League Premier Division.
The left-sided ace had been sent on as a second-half substitute by manager Neil Reynolds with the NPL First Division North play-off final against Prescot Cables finely poised at 0-0.
Having been at the club since 2008, Marlow – a left-winger who can also play at full-back – had already served the club with distinction for a decade.
But with the minutes ticking by against Cables, the former Preston North End youth star now had the chance to affect the club’s future and write himself into Brig folklore forever more.
With a packed and expectant home crowd beginning to feel the nerves with the matched locked in a stalemate, Marlow popped up with the crucial breakthrough 10 minutes from time.
That was cue for jubilant scenes around Irongate which continued long into the night with Marlow, who has the unusual nickname of “Goose”, the toast of every Brig supporter.
Marlow’s alternative guise has now become so synonymous with him, that he answers to the moniker without hesitation.
It was certainly the word on everybody’s lips in the after match of the joyous victory over Cables.
“The story behind my nickname is nothing special,” said Marlow, who brought the curtain down on his long Brig career last month when he joined neighbours Longridge Town.
“It were basically some kids at school, they started calling me “Goose” after I pulled a silly face.
“They just started calling me that and it’s just stuck over the years.
“I think some of my mates came to watch me play one time and they started shouting “Goose”.
“The fans then got hold of it and then they started chanting it.
“It’s not really a good story is it?
“It’s got to the stage now that I answer to it.
“Any time I have scored a goal or hit the winning goal like I did in the play-off final, I would go in the clubhouse afterwards and all the fans would chant ‘Goose’.
“It’s definitely stuck.”
While he enjoyed cult-like status among the Brig faithful, Marlow was very much an unsung hero in terms of the squad.
Very much a winger, Marlow has filled in at full-back on countless occasions and has often found himself on the bench over the years.
He has, though, made nearly 500 appearances for the club, scoring 50 goals – but without doubt that play-off winner is the most memorable one.
“That was my best moment in a Bamber Bridge shirt by a mile,” he said.
“I was on the bench and I just remember thinking that I wanted to come on the pitch and affect it.
“Renno, the manager, just turned to me and said, ‘Right, you’re going on!’
“I can’t remember what minute it was, maybe 55th or 60th minute.
“The goal is a bit of a blur. Somebody did record it and put it on YouTube, so that helps bring back the memories. I just remember Jamie Milligan taking the corner , then Kieran Charnock headed it down and it’s come to me about 10 yards out.
“I have chested it and just smashed it in. Luckily, it’s gone through a crowd of players .
“I don’t really remember much after that, the goal celebration is just a blur.”
Having served the club for such a long time, Marlow remembers vividly the pain of Brig losing twice in play-off finals under previous manager Neil Crowe, the first time to Ramsbottom
United in 2014 and then again to AFC Darlington a year later.
A Bamber Bridge lad, Marlow admits he still pinches himself now when he reflects on that memorable day when the club finally achieved its Holy Grail.
“I have been at the club for years, I am from the town – you get to know a lot of the fans who come and watch you,” said Marlow.
“You see them come and support you at away games in the middle of nowhere, it’s freezing cold.
“So to have the final at Irongate and get the one and only goal which clinched promotion in front of all your family, your mates, the fans – it was a special feeling.
“I absolutely loved it and I am not one for the limelight but I enjoyed that.
“I remember before the game thinking that we can’t get beaten in the play-offs again. So I was determined to get on the pitch and make sure that did not happen this time.”
Marlow believes the promotion was the culmination of many years of hard work.
Reynolds was the manager when Brig finally went up but he had worked as Crowe’s assistant for many years and the pair had fostered a great team spirit among a loyal and established squad.
“To be honest those were the years I probably enjoyed the most when Neil Crowe was manager,” said Marlow, who works during the day as a drayman for Heineken. “It was just a great team spirit even though the club had a low budget and the money was not the best.
“To be playing with the lads, week in week out, having a laugh and going for a drink with them after games, it made a big difference in terms of our results.
“I think we finished third one year and then fourth the year after.
“I think it just helped that we were all mates and knew each other well.
“The manager Crowey, he was all about team spirit, team bonding.
“Everything sort of just took care of itself . All the lads wanted to play for him and there were no big egos.
“Crowey could be angry. He comes across as calm but once the whistle blows, he’s just a winner.
“Under Renno, we were probably just a little bit more attacking.
“I can’t really say there was a massive difference between Crowey and Renno – obviously it was just that last little push to get us over the line.”
After such a long time at one club, Marlow made the huge decision last month to leave the club and take up an opportunity at North West Counties Premier Division outfit Longridge Town.
Married to Laura and with two-year-old Heidi to consider, Marlow decided it was time to step away from the extra commitment of playing in the Northern Premier League so that he could devote more time to his family.
For his final game in Brig colours, he was made captain for the day and signed-off in style as Brig thrashed Gainsborough at Irongate.
“Going to Longridge is the perfect fit for me,” said Marlow. “The manager Lee Ashcroft rang me and said there’s not as much travelling in this league.
“I told Milli that I wanted to finish and he told me to play one last game and I am glad I did because it gave me the chance to say goodbye to the fans.”
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