Category Archives: Footy
Since #BuryFC got thrown out of the league an unexpected thing has happened – I’ve lost interest in football altogether. I’d imagined that after a week or two I’d maybe pop along to Accy, or maybe Rochdale, just to watch a match – but I just don’t care any more. I used to look forward to the EFL highlights on Saturday evening, but now even Colin Murray has lost his allure.
I don’t even look at the results any longer, and I have no idea who tops any table, or languishes at the bottom. It’s as if football itself has kicked me right in the bollocks and my mind has just gone “Well fuck you, then”. I hope my love of the game returns when (if) The Shakers do, but for now it seems that I was a Bury fan more than a football fan.
What are those five stages of grief again? Oh yes, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and being kicked in the bollocks by football.
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