Monthly Archives: August 2019
My beloved Shakers are dead, after 134 years, killed by a succession of stupid men, greedy men, and finally one downright immoral, bullying, despicable, arrogant parasite. Also culpable in the ‘murder’ is the ineffectual English Football League itself, who allowed such chancers to take over without having to undergo the EFL’s much-vaunted “Fit & Proper Person” tests. Others will examine the obscene imbalance of finances in English football that is at the root of all this. Here, I just want to put down a few words about what Bury FC have meant to me.
My first visit to Gigg Lane was in 1971, back when I was a young Rotherham fan. We stood on the Manny Road End and watched The Millers steal the points with a 1-0 victory. Years later I moved across The Pennines, saw the light and became a Shakers regular. I’ve watched the first team, youth players, and the women play at Gigg Lane. I’ve watched England Under-18s there. Over the decades I’ve watched games from every stand, but my true home was row G in the South Stand. In later years the seat next to me was home to my daughter; Gigg Lane was a refuge, a haven where for two hours we could laugh and shout and sing and connect with the community, and with each other. It was a place where we could forget the cruel vicissitudes of the outside world. I feel I should apologise to my daughter for infecting her with a love for a club that has now died after one of its finest post-war showings. In this last season the old ground has been home to the best football I’ve ever seen from a Bury side. Inspired by a charismatic manager, the spirit from players and staff was incredible, and the football a delight for the eyes and heart.
In its time of dying, Gigg Lane experienced the community of football at its absolute best. In the hope of the next game going ahead, hundreds of fans gathered at the old ground to give it a much-needed clean after a summer of neglect. Not only Bury fans turned up – supporters of other clubs came to help too in a heart-warming demonstration of the true football community coming together. Accrington, Huddersfield, Leeds, Portsmouth, Torquay, Blackpool supporters were among them, as were a number of Bolton fans, their own club also under a 5pm deadline for survival.
My Shakers memories will persist, of course. Forever in my head, with a thousand other visions, will be Efe Sodje’s mighty headers, Lowey’s late goal at Chesterfield, two nights of promotion at Tranmere, and Leon Barnett (playing for Wigan then) falling over the hoarding at Gigg. I’ll remember the crowd cheering Joe Murphy’s kids ‘scoring’ at the Manny Road end after one game. I’ll remember Schuey and Giles Coke arguing about who would take a penalty. I’ll remember Danny Mayor moving like a ghost, and I’ll remember Nicky Adams laughing his head off at Danny’s bloody nose. I’ll remember Joe Riley’s screamer at Bramhall Lane, Leon Clarke’s walk-in at Doncaster, Nicky Maynard’s overhead kick against Mansfield. I’ll remember the supporters, too – Beardy Martin, the two foul-mouthed old ladies who sat nearby, the witty lads who sat behind us, South Stand Shorts Guy, the tattooed stranger I danced with at Tranmere, and the singing section’s remarkable rendition of ‘Anarchy in the UK’.
And I’ll remember Ryan Lowe, his goals, his good humour, and the wonderfully exciting football he got us playing as manager in our final season. A Scouser who became a Bury legend – good luck to him at Plymouth, and to the remarkable players of the 2018/19 squad, wherever they find themselves. Thanks for the memories, everyone. My heart is broken.
A horrific short tale for Miranda Kate’s Midweeker, riffing off the picture below. TW: self-harm.
“Fuck you!” she howled, and flew out of the door, a screaming rocket trailing fire. It slammed behind her. The mirror fell from the wall and smashed as it hit the tiles. I followed it to the floor and sat there, gulping for air, my eyes stinging, my cheeks wet, my head about to explode with pain.
My hand touched the mirror, as broken as my shredded heart. I ran my fingertip along one of the cracks, slicing the sensitive skin on a jagged shard. Blood beaded there, and I licked it off. I was right. It tasted of her. She was in me. In my blood. Why did she doubt that?
I eased my nails under a section of glass and teased it free. I pressed the sharp point against the thin skin of my inner arm, just below the elbow, and dragged it down towards my wrist, raising a red welt jewelled with sparkles of blood. They too, tasted of adoration.
I repeated the action, raising more crimson to the surface. Opening my skin gave me back a level of control I had lost in the roaring fury of the argument. I could choose now. I was the one in charge.
I moved to the other arm, cutting open the skin in three long strokes. Red spattered the floor tiles. The hurricane in my mind eased a little. By the third slice, the glass had become slippery red in my fingers. I wiped them on my shirt, then pulled it off.
I began the next slice at my left shoulder, parting the skin in a long line down past the nipple to my stomach. A second cut paralleled it no more than half an inch away. The pain in my head moved to my skin. I found I could handle it better there.
I cut across the two vertical wounds, running red, and eased a point of mirrorglass beneath the skin, prising up a tag of flesh. I gripped it between my fingers and pulled a sliver of tissue away. It tasted of love, as I knew it would.
I cut more at my right shoulder and down across my belly, criss-crossing my torso, releasing ever more love into the world. My mind calmed with every slice. When she came back, I would show her the blood, have her taste it herself. Then she would see. Then she would know.
Blood coursed down to my lap, soaking my shorts, so I slid them off and cast them aside. I carved a heart into the flesh of one thigh, and her initial into the other. I continued down my legs to my feet. The glass sang whenever it parted skin, a gentle ringing keen of joy, our love song. Our tune.
I lifted my penis from my thigh: the centre of physical love. Before I could slice it open, her key rattled in the front door. She had returned! I staggered to my tattered feet and slid, one foot after the other, across the bloody tiles towards the slowly-opening door, flaps of torn skin dragging on the floor behind me.
How happy she would be to see how much I loved her.