Season 4 - Bury PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark W   
Sunday, 29 April 2012 20:49

Bury v Oldham Athletic – League One

 

Gigg Lane, Bury

 

Saturday 28th April 2012, 15:00 K.O.

 

Match

 

 

Last game of the season and a local derby to boot, I should have been so excited! When the fixtures were announced and I saw that we had a trip to Gigg Lane as our final away game, I was made up. What a refreshing change rather than Swindon and Yeovil, two recent ones that stand out.

 

Unfortunately, the last few months have taken a toll on me and I just couldn’t get up for it. Last Saturday’s draw against Preston guaranteed our survival but with it ended the season in every meaningful way. It was also one of the worst games I have seen in many a year. Looking on the bright side, the pressure was off the players now that we knew we would be entering next season in League one so there was the prospect that with that sorted, we might be able to turn on a bit of style. Oh, if only I’d known…

 

With this background to the game, I would actually have preferred a longer trip. At least that way I could make the most of the day, down a few beers on the way and try to get in the mood for a good sing song.

 

But, Bury it was and so we made our arrangements. It’s only fifteen minutes down the road so it’d be a half twelve start giving us an hour and a half in the pub when we got there. I was despatched to get tickets the week before (less queuing time on the day equals more pub time). As my mum and dad were going along and wanted to sit on the side, I opted to get them all together. This told me everything I needed to know about how interested in this game I was. Why would I choose to get tickets on the side knowing full well that the atmosphere would be behind the goal? I still can’t answer that one myself!

 

Roadworks on Broadway made my 15 minutes prediction somewhat optimistic but we were parked up on a side street in Bury before one. On the numerous previous occasions that we’ve made the journey, we have always ended up in the social club next to the ground for pre-match drinks but I was determined to find a pub. The atmosphere in the club leaves a little to be desired. We’d passed somewhere called the Staff of Life on the way in. It was surrounded by police which I took to be a good sign. The police aren’t going to surround somewhere unless it’s busy.  (The picture is nicked off the internet, hence the lack of said police).

 

Pub

 

When we approached, there was a coach-load of Latics fans making their way in. As we got a little closer, they were making their way back out again. Logic said that it was too busy for them. In fact they were leaving because “It smells like wet dog”. Discerning pissed up Latics fans. I like that! We decided to risk it. It wasn’t the greatest smelling place I’ve been in but it was far from the worst. My expectations of a bustling venue were sadly wide of the mark. There were about five other people in. I felt we had probably picked the wrong place when the first question I was asked in there was “How big is it?”. Whoa there fella. When he followed it up with “Can I see it?” I was already heading for the door. He had hold of my bag though and I realised that he was talking about the flag. I don’t know who this chap was and he seemed a nice enough bloke but I suspect that he had possibly had a beer or two. He found somewhere to check out the flag…

 

Pool table

 

And then handed it back to me. Two minutes later he once again uttered those words “How big is it?” Followed by his guess “Four foot?” Now, considering that he had seen it cover a pool table, that doesn’t strike me as a well informed guess. “Eight foot, really. Wow, can I have a look at it?” I thought we’d entered a pub, it seemed more like we had entered a parallel universe. We drank up as the social club had a new found attraction. Our friend decided that he wanted to head to the ground as we were leaving. I gave him directions and we went ‘the long way round’.

 

The social club was pretty much as I remembered it. Very functional, half decent lager, food if you wanted it, big screen TV but no atmosphere. Speaking to Neil in the ground later, he’d gone to the Staff of Life about twenty minutes after we left and said it got really good in there but I think we made the only sensible call on that one. We stayed for a couple in the social club but headed into the ground at a reasonable time feeling that the pre-match experience had been left wanting.

 

Gigg Lane

 

We’d taken a picture of the flag outside the ground when we first arrived so that was already ticked off allowing us to head straight for the turnstyles. Signs to the away end suggested we’d been allocated most of the ground, but I did notice the home turnstyles having the least specific rules for cheap entry that I have ever seen.

 

Young people

 

I have now seen the small print on there but at the time, I was thinking that I would class myself as a ‘Young person’ and that maybe I’d been ripped off when I forked out eighteen quid a ticket.

 

The steward on the away entrance had an attitude that I fully understood but probably isn’t the one they are looking for. When he searched my bag he asked “Have you got any fireworks in here”. My negative answer led to the response, “Nobody ever does, this job is so dull. I wish I’d applied for a job at Old Trafford instead”. It might be dull mate, but things should never get that bad.

 

I found a spot for the flag above one of the main exits…

 

Flag 1

 

before being approached by a steward. You’ve guessed it, I was covering the exit sign. How on earth were people supposed to realise that this huge gap in the stand was an exit unless they could see a sign to tell them. The steward knew how ridiculous his request to move it was but he’d got his orders from above so we found a solution.

 

Flag 2

 

I’ve been to Gigg lane a fair few times down the years and I must confess that I think it is a great place to watch football. It is exactly what a club of Bury (and our) size need. It’s not just the ground I like, I have nothing against Bury as a club. I see them as very similar to ourselves and am happy to see them doing well. I do think that they should be just behind us in the league rather than just in front of us, but that is splitting hairs. They are one of those clubs that I feel I should dislike just because of their geographical proximity to us but can’t do it. I guess that when they had Paul Reid playing for them I probably had a bit more hatred for them but it was aimed more at him as an individual… greedy bar steward.

 

The Latics fans were starting to flood in and it was great to see so many in fancy dress.

 

Fancy Dress 1

 

Fancy dress 2

 

A view from the back of the stand, however, suggested that the local constabulary were not seeing the jovial side of this. The police presence all day had felt a little OTT but it was getting ridiculous now.

 

Police

 

It was a nice touch that pre-match Bury held a minute’s applause for fans, players and officials of both clubs who had died in the last twelve months. That’s something that should be adopted by all clubs. A great gesture.

 

Applause

 

A football match now followed during which nothing happened. M’Changama was injured but thankfully is OK. Efe Sodje did a little dance when the fans behind the goal sang about his tea towel. And that was pretty much it.

 

In the middle of all that, we had half time where Ricky Hatton came on to the pitch to promote one of his boxers who is fighting at the Velodrome in the coming weeks. The most notable thing about this was the instructions on how to buy tickets. Apparently they are available at a local chippy. If there was any doubt that Ricky was involved, that probably removed it.

 

Hitman

 

On the way out of the ground I noticed an advert for the Bury Beer Festival. You would imagine that a beer festival would pay for itself but I suppose it is always worth getting a sponsor if you can. Perhaps a local pub would sponsor it or a brewery. No…

 

Beer Festival

 

It wasn’t the best day but as always, we’d managed to have a laugh. The enthusiasm might have been pummelled out of me for the season, but I’ve got a season-ticket to buy this week so I’m sure it will be back come August… oh and I’ve got another report to write in a month’s time as the flag makes it’s Oslo debut.

 


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Last Updated on Sunday, 29 April 2012 21:02