Defender Richards leaves with Marlow manager Bartley's best wishes

Credit: Jayden Chalmers

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Following goalkeeper Simon Grant’s departure from Marlow last week after eight loyal seasons, it’s been announced that defender Adam Richards (above) is going to be joining him at newly promoted Bracknell Town.

The Robins are due to compete at step three next season following their promotion as champions from the Isthmian League South Central Division, and manager Bobby Wilkinson has started to cherry-pick some of the league's best players.

The club have taken two stalwarts of the Marlow team over the past few seasons, players that manager Mark Bartley will find difficult to replace.

Striker James Clark also left Oak Tree Road to link up with the Robins at the end of last season, but this time Grant and Richards – players who've given some of the best years of their career to Marlow – are leaving with the managers' best wishes.

On Richards departure, which was announced last Thursday, Bartley said: “I signed Adam from the JMA (John Madejski Academy) – he came straight out of youth football and into my side at Marlow. When the opportunities have come before for him to go and test himself elsewhere, I’ve always encouraged it. We had a situation where he went to Slough Town for a short while and Harrow Borough. To be honest, he probably wasn’t quite ready then but he’s ready now. He goes with my blessing as every time he crossed the white line, he gave me 100 per cent.”

Last week Bartley posted a message on Twitter commending Grant for his loyalty and commitment to Marlow, adding that the goalkeeper was leaving with his blessing and best wishes. Speaking about the move to the Advertiser this week he added: “In my eyes, he has been the best goalkeeper in the league for a few years now. He had the opportunity to move on last year, but he believed in what we were doing at Marlow, so he stayed and gave it his all. They’ve (Bracknell Town) managed to get promoted this year and so the opportunity for Granty to test himself at a higher level has presented itself.

“He goes with my blessing because he’s been with the club for eight years. Granty has given me absolutely everything

“When I bring players into the club, I like to believe I develop them into good players and good young men as well.

“Then there’s the natural evolution of them wanting to go on and test themselves at a level above and I’m all for that if I believe they have the ability.”

Bartley hasn't ruled out the possibility of more players leaving the club over the summer and feels the squad needs 'freshening up' ahead of next season's assault on the South Central Division. The Blues were run out of contention for promotion through the play-offs in the final weeks of this season, finishing seventh overall.

“The reality is that there will be more outgoings,” he said. “At the end of every season, you normally have two or three players move on – that’s the normal rate of attrition.

“Now, I’m in a situation where I’ve been with the same squad for two COVID-impacted seasons, so I think it needs a bit of a freshen up. There are some more boys that have the ability to go and play higher so expect that news to come out in the next couple of weeks. There’s also some who require a fresh challenge and us needing some fresh blood in their positions so they will leave by mutual agreement.”

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