Bury Town goalkeeper Marcus Garnham described himself as ‘selfish’ to see what offers would be on the table this summer before finally agreeing to remain at Ram Meadow.
The fans’ favourite — recognised by many in the game as the best shot stopper in the Ryman League Premier Division — was set to sign for Lowestoft Town last week before their late switch to Skrill Conference North forced him to reconsider.
Although disappointed at not having the chance to challenge himself at a higher level, Garnham insisted he was happy to be staying at a club he holds dear to his heart.
“It was very difficult decision because I had some good offers on the table, but it’s right for me to stick where I am and reassess later in the year,” he said. “This is the first season I’ve had a sit back for a think and considered my options, which has been the most stressful thing I’ve done.”
Reflecting on his offer from Lowestoft, the former Woodbridge Town number one said: “That was a fantastic offer — I would have snapped their arm off, but an hour later they’d moved to Conference North.
“They put a good offer down and I was ready to go because I wanted to challenge myself, but it’s just one of those things which wasn’t meant to be.”
Garnham — who described his decision to wait and see what offers would be on the table as ‘purely selfish’ — added: “I still have the same hunger to succeed.
“I haven’t just settled for Bury and if I didn’t want to be here then I wouldn’t waste my time.”
Once the extra travelling involved that came with a move to Conference North ruled Lowestoft out as an option, there was only one place Garnham wanted to sign, despite being offered more money elsewhere in the Ryman League.
Several discussions with chairman Russell Ward and newly-appointed manager Ben Chenery took place in the meantime and finally persuaded the goalkeeper to stay.
“He’s a top man and I trust him,” said Garnham of Chenery.
“That’s why I’m staying.”
The Ryman Premier’s goalkeeper of the year in 2012/13 and ‘golden glove’ winner for December 2013, Garnham hopes he can take his form to even greater heights during the upcoming campaign with the introduction of a goalkeeping coach.
“From what people at the club have been saying, they are getting a goalkeeper coach in for all the keepers at the club, which is a big step and will benefit everyone,” he said.
“They want to do the best they can to develop players.
“Wilks (former boss Richard Wilkins) did a fantastic job, but Chenners has got his own ideas he will bring to the table.
“People are going to write us off this year, but I think we’ll surprise a few.”
Garnham admitted he let the club’s financial problems affect him more than most during a turbulent second half of the season, but is determined to move forward with a refreshed and enthused approach.
He said: “Some games I thought to myself, ‘do I really want to be here?’
“But that’s in the past and you have to look forward to the future.
“I enjoyed it in patches last year, but it was the most difficult time I’ve had since we were down the bottom with Woodbridge in my final season there.”
Ward, delighted to retain the services of Garnham, added: “He had two better offers than us, but it’s not always about money.
“I’ve explained to him where I feel the club is going to go — lots of positive things are happening behind the scenes.
“There’s a lot of commitment and enthusiasm and in the end that’s tipped the balance for him.”