Very rarely are players able to produce affectionate chants from the terraces quite like our very own Chris lines. Renditions of “He’s one of our own, he’s one of our own, Chrissy Lines, he’s one of our own” can be heard regularly at The Memorial Stadium directed towards our home-grown hero. But just why do we love “Linesy” so much? As part of a new TFF series, we will break down 10 reasons why we LOVE Chris Lines
1) THAT goal vs Cardiff
Cast your mind back to the 11th of August 2016, the beginning of the 2016/17 season and Rovers are playing out a hard fought draw with Cardiff City in a televised EFL Trophy game at The Memorial Stadium. With a mouth-watering away tie at Chelsea to play for and numerous chances spurned by both sides, step up Chris Lines in the 115th minute with an absolute howitzer of a shot. Magnificent.
GOAL! Wow, wow, wow. Chris Lines smashes a thunderous drive into the top corner!
— Sky Sports EFL ⚽️ (@SkySportsEFL) August 11, 2016
2) His unwavering loyalty to the club
Dropping down two levels of the football pyramid to help your boyhood club to promotion in its darkest days is just what dreams are made of, and “Linesy” did just that when re-joining Rovers on loan from Port Vale near the end of the 2014-15 campaign. Despite having spent his entire career beforehand playing in the football league, the tall midfielder showed exactly where his loyalties lie by leading the club to a tense play-off final victory against Grimsby town and secure an immediate return to the fourth tier for The Pirates – scoring a crucial shoot-out penalty in the process.
3) He’s highly versatile
Lines’s versatility on the pitch means that he has remained a mainstay in the first team squad for virtually every match since his homecoming two seasons ago. Equally as capable playing in an attacking midfield role or as more of a holding midfielder, Lines has ensured his selection week-in-week-out by honing his all round play and at times this season embodying an all-around box to box midfielder. Lines himself admits that he has improved the defensive side of his game this season in a bid to impress Rovers gaffer Darrel Clarke and it’s hard to see our number 14 displaced from the squad any time soon.
4) He has a knack for scoring crucial goals
Rewind to the second semi-final leg of our aforementioned 2014-15 playoff run and we’re hosting Forest Green Rovers at The Mem, already leading 1-0 from the first leg but a trip to Wembley still unconfirmed there is a sense of optimistic cheer reverberating around all sides of the ground. With Rovers attacking frequently in an attempt to put the score line beyond any doubt Lines thumped a low cross past Forest Green goalkeeper Steve Arnold, cue utter pandemonium from the 10,563 in attendance as Rovers moved one more step towards reclaiming their rightful football league place. Having racked up 24 league goals in his Rovers career, Lines can count some spectacular efforts among them. Cast your eye over some of his most brilliant efforts by watching the video below
⚽️ pic.twitter.com/F2593WkuJu 🔵⚪️
— Chris Lines (@Linesy8) January 7, 2017
5) He’s helped us gain promotion three times
During his two separate spells at the club, Lines has helped secure promotion on three separate occasions. His first achievement came as a fresh-faced youngster in the 2006-07 league 2 play-off final win against Shrewsbury Town, the same season in which he made his professional debut for The Gas. Eight years and several spells away from the club later saw Lines star in yet another Wembley victory – this time against Grimsby Town as he started in the edge of your seat encounter. In even tenser fashion, the player secured his promotion treble, contributing towards Lee Brown’s dramatic last minute winner against Dagenham that is sure to land the popular left back in Rovers folklore for years to come. With very few players able to boast three separate promotions with the same club, the midfielder can rightfully talk of his achievements and who knows? He could be celebrating a fourth promotion very soon indeed.
6) He knows how to take a set piece
Players capable of taking a good set piece are invaluable in the modern game, with a large percentage of a team’s goals coming from either corner kick routines or free kicks it’s important that a player is always willing to step up and provide that spark of creative magic. Lines is arguably one of the most clinical scorers of direct free kicks currently at the club as can be seen from his effort for Port Vale below. The midfield maestro can also deliver a pinpoint indirect set piece with either foot, the assist for Peter Hartley’s clinical header against Chelsea coming courtesy of him.
7) He doesn’t hold back
Every footballer seems to be on social media these days and platforms such as Instagram and Twitter can be used for both good and bad. Despite being a platform for fans and players alike to communicate, a prime example of how this can go wrong is when fans have something negative to say and have no qualms about voicing their opinion to the person in question. January deadline day this year will be remembered for all the wrong reasons but providing one shred of humour on an otherwise bitter day was Lines and his response to a troll winding up club chairman Wael Al-Qadi
— Chris Lines (@Linesy8) February 3, 2017
8) His attempts to rival Sincs for the “Best beard”
As far as facial hair goes, you will be hard pressed to find any player in the history of Bristol Rovers with a better trim than our very own Stuart Sinclair. The diminutive midfielder raised some eyebrows when he signed for the club looking anything but clean shaven and it seems that he hasn’t had a shave since. So credit goes to Chris for having a crack at dethroning Sincs for the title of “Best Beard” even if he has some way to go yet.
9) He celebrates every goal like he means it
Much like his manager Darrel Clarke, Lines knows how to celebrate in style. It’s abundantly clear that he’s playing for the badge on the shirt by the pure emotion and elation he demonstrates when the ball hits the back of the net. A prime example of this would be for the exquisite left-footed goal he scored against Bradford City recently, celebrating with the fans being Lines first thought after netting against the promotion-chasing side. As Tony Adams once said: “Play for the name on the front of the shirt and they will remember the name on the back”.
10) He’s one of our own
As a fan of a football club its near impossible not to love a home grown player that succeeds in the first team, there’s something special about watching the development of a player from fresh-faced debutant to fully fledged first team regular and Lines fits into that mould perfectly. With the player having signed a new contract for the club just a number of days ago and back to playing regularly it seems just a matter of time before he reaches the elusive milestone of 250 league appearances, a feat that would cement his status as a club legend in his own right. Icon status beckons for our vice-captain.
Feature Image Credit: Chris Clements on wikipedia