Category Archives: Bury
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.
I adore this photograph, taken in the 92nd minute of Bury’s game at Chesterfield on the 17th February. George Miller has just scored the winner as my beloved Shakers came from a goal down to win 2-1. I love the joy in the photograph, yes, and the endless smiles. But I am also intrigued by the variety of people and small dramas that it shows.
In the foreground, stewards struggle to prevent excited supporters getting onto the pitch to celebrate with the players. More fans, including a guy of huge beard in replica shirt, hurry down the steps to join the fun. Just in front of beardy bloke to the right of the steps, someone has fallen down and is being helped by other fans. In front of them, a man has the presence of mind to photograph the melee.
Over to the left a small boy, held in his father’s arms, raises his arm in celebration. Top right, a man is busy texting news of the goal to someone who might be anywhere in the world. Bottom left, the ball sits ignored for now. Bottom right, the referee watches impassively, making a mental note to add on an extra minute to the game to allow for the celebrations.
And no, I didn’t take the photograph*. I am, in fact, in it, between my daughter and Beardy Martin. Spot the Wombat.
*I took it from Twitter feed of @stephenthirkill
I’ve always loved churches, though God knows (sic) I’ve never been in the slightest way religious. To me, churches are simply havens of calm and relaxation, providers of aesthetic beauty, and sources of the occasional historical fascination. I sense no presence in there except the imagined ghosts of history.
There’s a coffee shop just inside, where I like to go for a small Americano after gym. It’s good coffee, and inexpensive. After my drink I usually wander into the main body of the church for a shufti at the Lancashire Fusiliers colours, and a quiet ten minutes just having a relaxing sit down surrounded by calm, untroubled by frets about the state of the world, or thoughts of jobs I have yet to do.
Here’s a point, though. Anyone seeing me sitting quietly in the pews might think I was communing with my god, when in my reality there is no such being. For an all-too-brief spell, I can be alone with my thoughts, unmithered by cats, spam callers, or nagging thoughts of how The Raven’s Wing’s Minstrel John and jongleuse Moss might break into a rich merchant’s house.
However … maybe that’s all ‘God’ is? Simply a device invented to allow us a brief respite from all the worries of this horrible 2017? If so, then I’m more confused than ever I was.
Herewith a selection of photographs of people taken at the Car Boot Sale at Gigg Lane this morning. I took them to entertain myself during slack periods at Wombie’s Stall. Perhaps in decades to come futuristic archaeologists will dig this blog post up and be fascinated by our quaint modes of attire, especially the ginger lad in the Wednesday shirt.
I took my little camera to the Bury v Wycombe match after The Shakers had won promotion to League 1.
See this place? This is the Drill Hall in Bury, and is where Cat’s college are mounting the A Level Art exhibition. Today I went to help stick things up (yes, yes, that’s what she said). Here are some words and photos.
The hall itself was filled with chipboard ‘walls’ enough for fifty or so students to display their work. And, bugger me, there was some good stuff. Talent abounds among the 18 year olds of our mighty nation, believe you me.
I managed to snaffle a hammer, and so became Captain Hammer for quite some time for Cat and her nearby friends. Cat had yoinked a bigarsed staple gun (Damage 34), so we had all the bases covered. Except for height. I didn’t fancy leaping like Nureyev and whacking the staple gun at the chipboard while at the pinnacle of my grand jeté, so we spent a lot of time passing a chair around. That bloody stepladder in the photo was nowhere to be seen when we went looking.
I enjoyed the cameraderie, badinage and spirit of helpfulness amongst the students enormously. They were all constantly helping each other out. In the photo on the left, Cat is either waiting for a chair, bracing the chipboard, or playing ‘Catch The Hammer’ with Camilla.
Enough witter, let’s look at some actual art, shall we? Here’s a collection of smaller pieces by Cat. As you can probably tell, one of her chosen subjects was ‘Tools’.And look, in her final ‘Tools’ piece, those are my tools. I use that screwdriver! For like, screwing and stuff! Here’s some work from Cat’s second subject, probably called ‘Naked Laydeez’ – And here’s her final piece, which I think shows a couple of Dali touches. I particularly like what’s going on with the arms. Plus, if you look closely, you might be lucky enough to see the nails that I, Captain Hammer, steered skillfully into place.And here IS Cat, with her completed display.
Now, it goes without saying that Cat’s work was by far the best (hey, it’s my blog so I’ll be the judge, thank you very much), but I thought you might like to see a few other bits by her friends, including this rather wonderful work spread over four canvases by Cat’s mate Kathryn. (Yes, I hammered away like a good ‘un putting these up too. The big worry was always to avoid thrusting the nail all the way through the chipboard AND whatever piece of work someone have carefully mounted on the other side. Much measuring involved). Sorry for the digression, here’s Kathryn’s seascape:
I also fell in love with this, by the very talented Camilla (or Kamilla, I’m not sure of the spelling)Finally, here’s a couple of photos of Cat and Kathryn working on their displays, and then after several hours of mounting and making sure everything was just right. In my opinion, Cat’s Graphics work is several levels above her Art, so I’m sure I’ll be posting something about that soon.