It’s that time of the week again, the time where all our careful planning (scrabbling around on Twitter) comes together to give you a view of this week’s game from the North Stand. This week’s victim willing volunteer is James Bentley, author of “The Forgotten Fifteen” a book about Bury’s promotion from the fourth division way back when. Which we’re now convinced is just a trick to make us forget just how old we are.
We’ll let James introduce himself…
I’m a 35-year-old Bury fan who’s currently unemployed. I’ve been watching Bury since 1988 and rate my best moment as a Shakers fan as when Dean Kiely saved the 88th minute penalty that gave Bury the point they needed for promotion to the second tier in 1997. However, my relative youth hasn’t stopped me writing a book about Bury’s 1984/85 season when they were promoted from Division Four using just 15 players all season. There is sadly nothing in his book about Tony Kelly’s goal against Brentford at Wembley, for shame.
People have been joking about how many times we’ve played you this year, but I just think it’s a flash back to the good old days. How’ve you been filling your time whilst we’ve not been playing 16 times a season? What a Bury like as a club these days?
Bury as a club is something of an odd one, and parts of this season have been mirroring last season.
The club was taken over by a new board in the summer of 2013 and they’ve set about leaving their mark on the place, mainly through increased numbers of sponsorship deals. There’s much spin that this is the most exciting time ever to be a Bury fan, including the announcement on the website of a club that has won the FA Cup – albeit over 100 years ago – that moving to a new training centre that was built by Manchester City is the biggest news in the club’s history.
It’s not, of course, but there are question marks over how the club can afford this and other fripperies like flights to games on such low crowds. Shareholders still haven’t had an AGM at which to discuss the club’s accounts but I fear most shareholders-cum-fans will be scrunching their eyes when they receive them like Marty McFly when the DeLorean hits 88.
It’s on the pitch where parallels can be drawn with last season. We started brightly but lost a lot of confidence in 2013/14 after a shocking 5-0 defeat at Shrewsbury. We picked up when David Flitcroft stopped tinkering with the team and ultimately went on to win promotion in the final game of the season. We’ve struggled again this season after a good start but the barren patch went on for longer, culminating in a 6-0 hammering at Coventry, though we’ve taken seven points from the last nine available at Gigg despite being 2-0 down to Colchester after 17 minutes last weekend. Let’s just be clear that I’m in no way expecting a final day promotion this season though. Staying in this division will be more than adequate for me.
As strange as it might sound, many of our fans pined for trips to Gigg Lane during our Premier League years, has absence made the heart grow fonder for you too? What do Bury fans really think about 2016’s Wigan “they’re a big club now” Athletic?
I’ll freely admit that Wigan Athletic have never made much of an impression on me, so in terms of absence making the heart grow fonder, it certainly didn’t. As it looked like we were going to get promoted last season, all I sensed was the closing of the gap that’s continued to narrow this season between us and Bolton.
I don’t really know what Bury fans think of Wigan in 2016 either. The football that so impressed me at the start of the season included what I felt was a veritable feast of flowing football in the FA Cup win at Gigg in November. Latics are seen as a big fish in the division but that’s only because of recent history. Springfield Park, Steve Johnson and Tommy Gore are still what the older guard will refer to if you mention Wigan Athletic to them.
How’s your season going? Are you just counting the week’s down to summer now, or are you harbouring hopes of the play-offs?
As above, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Started well, had the potential for some wonderfully exciting football, tailed off a bit and is gradually recovering just so long as the manager can learn his lessons from defeats.
I suppose we’d best talk about the match, how do you reckon it will go? Who are you worried about in our team, who should we be worried about?
I expect Bury to struggle. Wigan are one of the best sides in the league, it’s why you’re where you are and why we’re where we are. That said, we’ve some shining lights in our squad just as long as the ever-lengthening injury list doesn’t force them out. Danny Mayor is one of the better players in the division on his day, though these days have been less and less frequent lately. Leon Clarke is a formidable presence up front and Andy Tutte’s hat-trick versus Colchester will have given him a massive boost. Similarly, Craig Jones is very much the unsung hero of the team.
My abiding memory of childhood trips to Gigg Lane was wondering how often balls got kicked into the graveyard. I bet you’ve seen a fair few cemetery based headlines down the years? What are the best ones?
I can’t remember any, even though ‘Bury’ and ‘Cemetery’ go together like bread and butter. My object of fascination when I was a kid was the picture in the social club of the 1985 squad celebrating promotion, and it’s that picture which led to me writing my book. You can find out more about it at http://theforgottenfifteen.co.uk
My season ticket is for a mid-level hospitality area under the Main Stand and as part of it they’ve started giving us miniature hot meat pies at half time. They’re nice, but I sometimes long for a chicken balti pie from the South Stand where I watched Bury for years.
The chicken was chunky, the sauce not too spicy and it had to be eaten with one hand, which acted like a JCB digger/scoop. A proper winter warmer. With that in mind, I’m waving play on with regards to pies with creamy fillings. I never bothered with the meat and potato; one was enough to show you that the filling was a grey, peppery blob.
Thanks James we like a man who takes a no-nonsense approach to scoffing pies. We’’ll get our match report writer onto inventing some graveyard puns for tomorrow then. Good luck for the rest of the season, we hope you enjoy it all, after tomorrow of course.