Brig boss has such a lot to Crowe about

Neil Crowe
Neil Crowe

Football is a sport that creates fantasy stories.

Football is a sport that creates fantasy stories.

In our region, Fleetwood Town were a lowly North West Counties League side and they now sit pretty in League One.

Accrington Stanley and Morecambe continue to defy the odds surviving in League Two and Chester FC, the reformed Chester City, now are very competitive in the Vanarama Conference.

Another fantasy story ongoing at the moment is the job that Neil Crowe and his team are doing at Bamber Bridge.

Crowe is now into his fourth full season as the first-team manager.

He has already experienced play-off finals and semi-final ties in the Lancashire Cup, as well as overseeing constant improvements throughout each season.

If you rewind the clock four years ago, it was doom and gloom for the Irongate outfit.

Crowe first took over as boss for the final three games in the 2010/11 season, along with loyal assistant manager Neil Reynolds.

Then just seven games into the 2011/12 season, Crowe was given the news that his whole budget would be cut.

“We were all shocked at the time of the news, but we just had to get on with it,” said Crowe.

“The lads who were here at the time showed great commitment, as they all stayed until it became too much for a couple of lads coming from Liverpool and they left.

“But Chris Marlow, Lee Dovey and Ally Waddecar were at the club at the time, and they are still here today.”

Despite this difficult start to his career, Crowe will never forget his first game as boss.

He added: “It was Chester away, and we walked out in front of 3,800 people.

“That was a real eye opener. We lost 2-0 that game but we didn’t play that badly.”

As time passed, the financial situation started to ease.

“Through petrol money, or £10 a week and £20 a week, the club finally started to slowly honour the commitment the players showed in some of the darkest days of the club’s history.

Since then, Crowe has built up a fine squad and a superb backroom team.

Gus Muncaster, the physiotherapist, stayed with the club through thick and thin, while goalkeeping coach Stuart Barton and first-team-coach Mick Taylor joined at a later date.

Each season the club has improved on their league position, defying the odds and finishing above teams with much, much bigger wage budgets.

And this season, Crowe made his best ever signing, as the club gained the services of Preston North End legend Paul McKenna.

“Paul is probably the biggest signings in the history of the club,” said Crowe.

“I wasn’t shocked when he signed.

“I did think it was a long shot, but after a 20-minute chat, he agreed to sign for us.”

One of the highs in Crowe’s career was the victory in the play-off semi-finals against Warrington Town.

Also memorable, but sadly not successful, were the play-off final loss against Ramsbottom and the FA Cup defeat against Chorley.

Always a realist, Crowe is a person that takes each games as it comes but he has one dream he hopes he and his team can achieve.

He said: “In an ideal world, we would secure promotion here at Bamber Bridge.

“But I don’t see myself leaving for some time.

“Me and Neil Reynolds have put in so much work into building probably the best squad I’ve had and I wouldn’t want that to be wasted.

“I’ve never really thought about stopping as I enjoy it.

“It’s that old saying I suppose, when it becomes a chore, I’ll probably stop.”

While heaping praise on the players and staff on the pitch, Crowe applauded the hard work that people at the club do off the pitch.

He added: “Since Frank Doyle has come as the chairman, he has been 110 per cent behind the football club,

“Then we have George Halliwell, who is like my right hand man.

“He always helps out and makes himself available when something needs to be sorted.

“I trust everybody here, Mick, Gus, Stu and Neil Reynolds.

“I’m very happy and I wouldn’t change anything.”

With his heart firmly on his sleeve when it comes to Bamber Bridge, Crowe did reserve special praise for somebody outside the club who made it all happened.

He said: “I’d like to thank my wife. She’s backed me 100 percent in this job.

“She knew it wouldn’t be easy and it would be Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, as well as taking calls and other bits.

“She supported me and helped me make a decision about taking the job and I’m very grateful for it.”