“I’ve enjoyed every part of the journey, I can only say thank you to them for giving me the opportunity to step into football management because without them I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
Neil Reynolds, BBFC Manager.
Eight years on the pitch and almost two years from the touchline, it’s been a whirlwind 10 years at Bamber Bridge for Neil Reynolds.
Reno has been a great servant for Brig both as player and manager, but he now embarks on a new quest with FC United of Manchester, after Saturday’s home game against Basford United.
Reno in action against Prestcot Cables in October 2011 (Photo: Stefan Willoughby)
His 20 months as Brig manager has seen him deliver a cup and a promotion to the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, in what has been a hugely successful spell.
It all started on Saturday, 10 December 2016 with an away trip to Colwyn Bay which saw Reno guide Brig to a 1-1 draw – he would go on to secure a mid-table finish in his first season.
But the real highlight of his first six months was the clinching of the Integro League Cup at Harrison Park.
On A Wednesday night under the lights in Leek, goals from Regan Linney and Jamie Milligan saw Brig defeat Premier Division outfit Grantham Town 2-1, earning Reynolds his first piece of silverware in his famous Brig blazer and tie.
Integro League Cup Final - April 2017 (Photo: Ruth Hornby)
That cup victory drove him, the squad and club on, and what happened the following season will be what he is always remembered for at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.
Prior to the 2017/18 season, Reno asked his squad if they wanted promotion and believed they could get it - they all said yes.
He told them to go and get it and having set the plan out in June 2017, they carried it out in emphatic style thanks to Brig hero Chris Marlow.
It was a fourth placed finish for Reno and the boys, which meant they would host Tadcaster Albion in the semi-final and then the winner of the other semi-final, should they make it through to the final.
Goals from Danny Forbes and Lewis Nightingale turned around a 0-1 deficit late in the second-half, with the belief, desire and togetherness Reno had instilled throughout the season on full show.
Prescot Cables stood in Brig’s way in the final, on a baking hot day under the Lancashire sunshine with a packed Sir Tom Finney Stadium.
It was tight, it was tense, but there was something in the air that afternoon that made you think it was going to be Brig’s day.
With 10 minutes to play, Marlow chested the ball down inside the box and unleashed a thumping volley to seal the 1-0 win and promotion.
The referee’s full-time whistle was followed by a mass pitch invasion, with Reno claiming his second piece of silverware in just over a year.
He has always said that winning trophies drives him on, and everyone at Brig will be forever grateful for the two he delivered in his two years as manager.
Speaking to FCUM Radio following the announcement of his move to Broadhurst Park, Reno said:
“Am I going to miss Bamber Bridge? Absolutely,” he admitted. “The club has been a big part of my life, I’ve been there for the last 10 years.
“My little lad comes with me to every game, my Dad does too and it’s been part of my life.
“I feel like I’ve left Bamber Bridge in a really good place and I want to wish the club, the next manager and the team every success in the future.
“I’ve enjoyed every part of the journey, I can only say thank you to them for giving me the opportunity to step into football management because without them I wouldn’t be where I am now.
“I’ve given everything to the club and now I’ve been given the opportunity to manage another great club.”
Play-off Final, May 2018 (Photo: Ruth Hornby)
On Twitter, Reno tweeted:
‘I will say my official goodbyes on Saturday. However, I would like to thank everyone connected to the club for all the support you have shown in my squad, my staff and myself. Bamber Bridge will always have a special place in my heart.’ @nreno1977
Everyone at Bamber Bridge FC would like to thank Neil Reynolds for his fantastic service to the club, all his hard work and the success he has delivered during the last two years.
We wish him all the very best down the road at FC United.
Report: George Hodgson (@GeorgeHodgsonSport)
Updated 17:05 - 24 Oct 2018 by Ruth Hornby