Graham Barrow is a man that needs little introduction to Chester FC fans.
An eight-year spell as a player that yielded 248 Football League appearances under the stewardship of the late, great Harry McNally and two spells as Blues manager have underlined his legendary status at the club.
A combative midfield general, the likes of which haven't really been seen at the club since, Barrow was the embodiment of McNally's ethos of absolute commitment to the cause, of giving their everything for the badge.
It's 30 years since Barrow first arrived at Sealand Road, signed by McNally from Wigan Athletic, where he had played a more advanced attacking midfielder role. Since then he has held the Blues hotseat twice and also returned for a stint as assistant manager to Mark Wright during the 2006/2007 season.
He is almost as much a part of the fabric of the Blues as the wolf on the club crest.
Playing for Harry
"I never imagined when I arrived that I would go on to have such an association with the club," said Barrow, who currently serves as assistant manager to Gary Caldwell at League One Wigan.
"When I came to the club I was getting a bit older and I'd been playing more of an attacking role at Wigan but Harry (McNally) saw me as more of a defensive player.
"We went through plenty of tough times during that period, though. We moved from Sealand Road, went to play in Macclesfield and had a load of problems trying to get back to Chester and get the ground done. But we managed to in the end. We did so well just to make sure that the football club survived.
"It was like a sledgehammer hitting us when we were told we had to leave Sealand Road. It was our home and it placed a massive strain on the club and the fans. They way the supporters made the trek to Macclesfield each weekend was just amazing, they were a credit to the club."
Barrow was a fierce competitor as a player and his leadership qualities made him a favourite of McNally, a man who demanded his players be willing to run through brick walls for the cause.
"Harry didn't suffer fools, that's for sure," said Barrow, now 61.
"He had a huge role in my development as a footballer, but he had his own rules. If you didn't abide by them then you wouldn't last long.
"But he was a very intelligent man who had a knack of bringing the best out of players and he was superb at being able to spot a bargain. He had his ear to the ground in the local non-league scene and was a superb judge of talent and could spot potential a mile off.
"He was brilliant at bringing a group of players together as a team. When Harry was manager everyone always felt that they were in it together, fighting for each other. There was always a tremendous team spirit and everyone played for him and never wanted to let him down. He was a great man and manager and a sad loss to football. They don't make them like Harry, he was a one off.
"There was a time when we were at Sealand Road that we had a real chance to move the club on to new levels. We were doing well on the pitch for a period and we had a great squad. But the trouble off field meant that we ended up lurching from crisis to crisis. It was something that the club never really recovered from."
McNally was sacked as Blues boss during the 1992/93 season, the club's first at the Deva Stadium, and Barrow took on the role of player-manager but was unable to stave off relegation to Division Three.
Making a statement
But Barrow proved his managerial credentials the following season when he led Chester back to Division Two, finishing as runners-up following a superb campaign on the pitch, aided by excellent performances from the likes of Colin Greenall, David Pugh and Stuart Rimmer.
Hopes that Chester were on the cusp of better things were dashed, though, with Barrow resigning in the summer of 1994 owing to frustrations with the Blues board under Morrison Shand over their sale of key players such as Chris Lightfoot and lack of funds being made available.
His decision to leave the Blues was one that was not made lightly.
"I am a man of principle and I felt that I needed to make a stand to show people what was going on," said Barrow.
"I had great support from the likes of Joe Hinnigan, Alan Oakes and Ray Crofts early on but there was a new chairman after Mr Crofts left and it was difficult.
"If I had my sensible head on, I had a family that I had to support and it would have been easier for me just to carry on for the next season and continue to pick up my wage. But I couldn't do it.
"I didn't like the direction that the club was heading and I had a duty to let the fans know. It wasn't a move done because I wanted to go somewhere else, I loved Chester and wanted to make the club a success, which I thought could have happened given the right support."
Barrow wasn't out of work long, though, and was installed as Wigan manager in time for the 1994/95 season.
His time at Springfield Park wasn't the success he had hoped for and Barrow left the Latics 14 months later. He was, though, the man responsible for bringing current Everton boss and ex-Chester City midfielder Roberto Martinez to the English game, signing him along with two other Spaniards, Isidro Diaz and Jesus Seba, with the trio becoming known as the 'three amigos'.
Back at the Blues
A three-years spell as manager at Rochdale followed between 1996 and 1999 before Barrow would return to the Deva Stadium hotseat, this time under the chairmanship of the controversial Terry Smith, with the club still reeling from their Football League relegation the previous season and facing non-league football.
Despite a tight budget and working under Smith, Barrow achieved remarkable success during the 2000/2001 season, leading the club to an eighth-placed finish in the Conference, a memorable FA Cup third round clash at Blackburn and a semi-final appearance in the FA Trophy.
However, another act of daring by the maverick American Smith, one of a catalogue during his ill-fated time as Blues chairman, would see Barrow removed as manager, much to the anger of fans.
"It didn't end well during that season and the club wasn't being run well at all," he said.
"But the season itself had been successful. Terry (Smith) wasn't too bad during the season and I managed to work through it and he largely left me to it. There wasn't any play-offs in the Conference back then but if there was then we would have been right there challenging.
"We also had the FA Cup run, where we beat Plymouth Argyle and Oxford United to set up a game with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park."
That third-round clash with Blackburn is one that will live long in the memory of Chorley-born Barrow, with kick-off delayed by 15 minutes to allow Chester fans to get into the ground – all 3,500 of them.
The Blues would go on to lose 2-0 but had plenty of reason to feel aggrieved after seeing Steve Whitehall's first-half effort inexplicable chalked off for being offside.
IN PICTURES: The construction of the Deva Stadium
"That was an unbelievable day," said Barrow.
"The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up when I walked out on the pitch and saw how many Chester fans had made the trip. I just couldn't believe it. There were thousands of them!
"We made a good fist of it that afternoon and there was nothing wrong with Steve Whitehall's goal. If that would have stood then it could have been a different story."
After leaving Chester for a second time, Barrow took up an assistant manager role with Bury to current Airbus UK Broughton boss Andy Preece at Gigg Lane, taking over the hotseat following Preece's dismissal in January 2004.
Barrow was sacked in September 2005 from Bury and returned to Chester in 2006 as assistant to Wright as the Blues looked to battle at the right end of League Two.
Barrow used his Wigan connections to help bring Martinez to the Deva, with the Spaniard oozing class in the first half of the season in a squad that included current Stoke City and Northern Ireland international Jon Walters.
Martinez left to take up the Swansea City manager's job in February 2007 and wanted to take Barrow with him to South Wales as his number two. But Barrow decided his loyalties lied with Chester and he rebuffed the offer to join his former player.
The sale of Walters to Ipswich in January 2007 and Martinez's departure hurt Chester and they began to struggle on the pitch, resulting in the sacking of both Wright and Barrow before the end of the season following a run of three wins in 20 games.
A brief spell as assistant to Graham Heathcote at Altrincham followed but Barrow's career was to take an unexpected turn for the better as his old friend Martinez finally got his wish and appointed Barrow as his number two at Premier League side Wigan in 2009.
Martinez and Barrow's time at the DW Stadium would be a successful one as the Latics battled against the odds to survive in the Premier League and were crowned FA Cup winners in May 2013, although Wigan would go on to lose their top-flight status just days later.
IN PICTURES: Nostalgic images of the Sealand Road stadium
"I've been at Wigan for seven years now and feel very lucky to have been a part of that success," said Barrow.
" I suppose to still be involved in the game at 61 is an achievement in itself.
"I never imagined I would be playing such a key role with a Premier League club and being part of that FA Cup win was an amazing experience.
"We have struggled over the past couple of seasons but we have a chance of making it back to the Championship again this season and things are looking up again."
The Martinez connection
And what of Martinez? The Spaniard has held Barrow in the highest regard ever since arriving from Balaguer in 1995, valuing his input and coaching acumen. Martinez's rise from Blues midfielder to Everton boss has been a meteoric one, but not one that was wholly surprising to Barrow.
"He was always a model professional and carried himself in the correct way all the time," said Barrow.
"He commanded the respect of players and was always a highly intelligent man with an excellent knowledge for the game. He's going through a tough spot at Everton at the moment but what he has achieved in the game as a manager speaks volumes.
"I'd be lying if I thought he was going to be a Premier League manager when he was playing for me, but such is the kind of person that Roberto is, it's not such a surprise to see him do so well and I'm very thankful to him for giving me the opportunity he did at Wigan."
Chances of a return?
With Chester currently searching for the next incumbent of the managerial hot-seat, it seemed apt to ask Barrow whether he would fancy one last crack at the top job. But with a key role at Wigan and the uncertainty of any kind of longevity in the managerial game, Barrow was open about where his future lies.
"Look, you can never say never in football," he said.
"But I am enjoying my time at Wigan and working under Gary (Caldwell). We have a good working relationship here and we're on the up as a club.
"There is nothing quite like being a manager but I have to take into account that it isn't always the most secure of jobs and that I'm 61 now. But, like I said, you can never rule anything out in this game."
Thirty years on from first coming to the Blues, Barrow has witnessed his fair share of highs and lows, from promotion joy to three unpleasant departures.
But despite going through some times with the Blues, his love for the club has never dimmed.
"Chester has a very special place in my heart and they always will have," said Barrow, who will return to the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium this summer when Wigan visit for a pre-season friendly.
"The fans have always been wonderful to me and I have some fantastic memories of the time I have spent there.
"I know people always say it but I genuinely look for Chester's results every week and try to keep up to date with what's going on there.
"The club means an awful lot to me and they'll forever be a major part of me and my life."