Sam Reed envisaged ending his career at Bury Town until he parted ways with the Blues on Friday after six-and-a-half years at the club.
The 25-year-old striker, who became a firm favourite with the Bury fans during his six-and-a-half-year stay at Ram Meadow, netted more than 100 goals for the Blues and helped them to four trophies in the last four years.
However, Reed admitted he could see no future for himself at the club after failing to get the assurances he requested that he would play as an out-and-out forward next term, rather than just behind the main striker.
“A lot of the players have been there for a long time like me, so to leave those lads is hard to take, but that’s football and sometimes you have to move on,” he told the Free Press. “I had my heart set on staying there for the rest of my career, but I will be playing at the same level or higher next year.
“Hopefully I will prove some people wrong.”
That desire to prove people wrong stems from a disagreement over where Reed — who netted just 11 goals last season, but also provided 22 assists — felt he was best utilised.
“I said I wanted to play up front and felt my development had been held back playing in the hole and that I had not fulfilled my potential,” he said. “I wanted to be at Bury and be up front.
“They said they couldn’t promise me that because Sandsy has scored lots of goals, so we agreed to go our separate ways.
“I was gutted because I’ve always wanted to end my career at Bury — I was only three-and-a-half years away from a testimonial.”
Reed is the fifth Bury player to depart so far this summer, with fellow stalwarts Mark Coulson, Elliot Hunter and Sam Nunn joining Evan Key through the exit door at Ram Meadow.
And the former Newmarket Town striker admitted he was surprised that Bury’s trophy-laden side of the past four years was breaking up.
“All those players are why Bury are in that position and have climbed to that level,” he said. “They have put their hearts on the line for Bury every time they play, like Sam Nunn who is Bury through and through.”
Reed — whose brother Lee described himself as ‘disillusioned’ with life at Bury on Twitter the day his sibling’s exit was confirmed — began his career at Cambridge United, but moved to newmarket Town after failing to make it through the ranks at the U’s.
He netted nine times in 20 league appearances to spark the interest of Cambridge City, but ended up at Ram Meadow in December 2006 after starting just four games for the Lilywhites.
From there, he began to build a reputation as one of the most feared frontmen in East Anglia, bagging 21 goals in all competitions as Bury won the Southern League Division One Midlands title in 2009/10.
Reed also had a particular knack of scoring in the FA Cup, netting 10 times in the world’s oldest and most famous domestic knockout competition in the last five seasons alone.
Among those he bagged a dramatic winner at Bedford Town in the third qualifying round in 2009/10 and also struck twice as the Blues beat Basingstoke to reach the first round proper in 2008/09.
More cup glory came in the form of an Isthmian League Cup win in 2012 and two Suffolk Premier Cup successes — this year and again in 2011 when he scored both goals against Needham Market in the final, including a wonderful individual effort in front of the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road ground.
When asked to pick his Bury Town highlight though, there could only be one answer for Reed.
“Cups are brilliant, but promotion is a season-long thing and that feeling when you achieve it is amazing,” he said, referring to Southern League Division One Midlands glory. “Some players don’t experience that at all in their career, but I have.
“To win four trophies in four years is more than I could ever have imagined when I signed.”