Result: Bury 1-1 Luton Town (FA Cup 2nd Round)
Venue: JD Stadium (Saturday 6th December, 3.00pm)
Another FA Cup weekend was in full swing after Blyth Spartans’ Friday evening triumph over Hartlepool United which sealed Paul Murray’s fate, and my destination was a return to Gigg Lane and Bury FC who were entertaining the recent Football League returnees, Luton Town.
So, after a pre-conceived meeting with Dan Watkinson in Manchester Piccadilly, we caught the 135 bus up towards Bury. The service drops you off a 2 minute walk from Gigg..,apologies, the JD Stadium as it is now known. But beforehand, I had decided that I would finally drop in at the finely named Swan & Cemetery, a favoured haunt of both home and visiting support on matchdays. Today was no different, with both teams being represented within the hostelry. The Swan was decorated with Christmas lights, tinsel and the rest of the usual décor hung from the rafters and the fireplace, giving the pub a warm feeling on a rather icy afternoon.
After a Kopparberg for me and an Orange Juice for me cost-cutting companion, we moved onwards, and down the road to the Staff of Life, located on the junction. Inside was pretty full, with the vast majority watching the latter staged of Newcastle-Chelsea on the TV. We decided to take a table just out of sight of the game and gauge the outcomes on the reactions of those in view. Dan, a Chelsea fan, wasn’t too impressed with the outcome, though, as the Toon came out 2-1 victors.
With Strongbow finished, it was onwards to the ground where, upon arrival, we paid the discounted rate of £10 (as u-23 & student) and purchased a programme, a 130th anniversary issue, for £3. It’s well worth it too.
We had, again, previously decided to complete Gi…JD Stadium, by sitting in the East Stand, meaning that we both will have sat in all four stands of the ground. A little anal I know, but still….
Anyway, we took our seats in the “corner” area that connects the East and South stands, and right behind the corner flag. With just a few minutes to kick-off and a problem-free day so far, I joked the only thing missing was a last minute goal-keeper’s equaliser. It was almost prophetic.
As the teams came out and took part in the “Football Remembers” tribute to the Christmas Truce of the Great War, now seems an appropriate time to delve into the history of Bury FC.
Bury F.C. were formed in 1885, playing at their current home of Gigg…JD Stadium, since Day 1. The club was formed following the amalgamation of Bury Wesleyans and Bury Unitarians football clubs, and their first match, a friendly versus Wigan Athletic ended in a 4-3 victory. In 1887, the first ‘shed’ was built at Gigg Lane (it’s this from now on!) at the cost of £50, though this was written off & never paid. During this year, the club recorded their highest defeat a 10-0 reverse to Blackburn Rovers. Their first floodlit game took place back in 1889, when 7,000 people turned up to see them lose 5-4 to Heywood Central.
1892 saw the first silverware won, the Lancashire Challenge Cup (LCC), before Bury joined the Football League Division 2 in 1894, which was won at the first attempt, with Bury going undefeated all season, before beating Liverpool in a play-off at Stoke City to achieve promotion to the Division 1, where they were to remain until 1912. Bury’s Football League membership is the (unbroken) third longest, after founder members Preston North End and Notts County. The LCC was won again in 1899, 1903, 1906 & the Manchester Cup was also won around these in 1894, 1896, 1897, 1900, 1903 and 1905. The Lancashire Junior Cup was won for the only time in 1890 too.
1900 saw the club win the FA Cup, with a 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley, and this was won again 3 years later, a Cup Final record win, 6-0 over Derby County, which remains to this day. During this latter run, Bury didn’t concede a goal throughout the competition. In 1906, the South Stand was built, the ground was given to the club as a gift from the Earl of Derby in 1922, and two years later the Main Stand was added.
After their second promotion in 1923, the club achieved their highest ever league position, 4th, in the 1926 Division 1. But two years later the club were relegated again, and have not played top flight football since. After further league decline, despite winning the Third Division in 1961, by 1971 the club found themselves in the Fourth Division for the only time. Further cup successes were attained in the shape of more LCC wins coming in 1926, 1958 1983 & 1987, and Manchester Cups in 1925, 1951,1952, 1962 & 1968.
The club recovered with promotions back to the Second tier but in 1998-’99 they were relegated back to the Third tier on goals scored, only the only side to ever have suffered this fate. In 2001-’02, the club were relegated once more into League Two following a spell in administration. In May 2005, the club became the first club to score 1,000 goals in all four tiers of English Football League. They survived relegation to the Conference in ’06-’07 after a final day 0-0 with Stockport County ensured their place in the league. ’08-’09 saw Bury reach the play-offs but lost on penalties to Shrewsbury Town. In 2009, the club won the pre-season ‘Newsquest Cup’ by beating NPL sides FC United, who groundshare at Gigg Lane, and Radcliffe Borough. In 2011 Bury achieved promotion under Richie Barker to the League 1 via a 3-2 win (and an 87th minute Ryan Lowe goal) at champions Chesterfield.
The season before last, Bury were relegated from League One after losing 1-0 to near neighbours Oldham Athletic, finishing 22nd in the league table. Last season, Bury finished in 12th position in the League 2, including my last League visit here, the “Keith Hill Clapping Derby“, christened as such by LostBoyos’ Matt Harrison due to the lack of other entertainment, between the Shakers and Rochdale.
Anyway, it was cup day yet again, and both sides were well matched in a even first half, bereft of clear chances. The best of which fell to Bury at the end of the 45, when a mazy run ended with a shot being almost put through his own net by Hatters centre-back Luke Wilkinson, as his clearance narrowly avoided sneaking inside the post. A heart-in-mouth moment for him.
With half-time looming I set off into the concourse for a pie, at £3.60, it’s very pricey but is a tasty one, made by Pukka Pies. Still as a blogger, it is my duty to inform, so I sacrifice my own money for your knowledge. No, no, it’s fine. Don’t worry about me…
Sufficiently warmed, and by now having christened a new dance craze, the “Rafa Dance” done by doing a strange jogging-type arm movement and Rafa Benitez’s “game over” signal a few seasons ago that he was slated for, it’s sure to catch on. Hell, if Gangnam Style can, anything can.
It took just five minutes of the second period for the opener to arrive, and it was the Hatters who claimed it, as a tame effort was somehow allowed, by Rob Lainton, to pass through his gloves and legs, Massimo Taibi-like, and Mark Cullen gleefully stabbed home from a yard. It was a horror moment for the young ex-Bolton gloveman, and one that looked to have cost his side the contest and a place in the 3rd Round draw.
With just five minutes of the game remaining, Luton caught Bury on the break and Ricky Miller was desperately unlucky to hit the foot of the post, and this miss came back to haunt the visitors. The referee had just signalled for four added minutes, when the Shakers won a corner on the left flank. All 11-men went forward, including subs Ryan Lowe, Danny Nardiello and ‘keeper Lainton, desperate to atone, in some way, for his error.
The corner was swung in and Lainton challenged. The ball dropped around 8-yards out. From the other end, it was a flurry of legs and challenges flying in, with at least one effort being blocked on the line, before the luminous pink spherical object fell to former Manchester United man Nardiello who rifled into the net to send the home fans into delirium and the visiting Hatters fans behind that goal into disbelief. The game ended soon after with both sides living to fight another day. Sadly, as the centenary of that day on the battlefields of Northern Europe is remembered, we are all too aware there were many young men that didn’t.
My Bury M.o.M.- Hallam Hope
My Luton Town M.o.M.- Ricky Miller
Game: 6- Not the greatest for long spells. Picked up towards the end, as per a cup game.
Ground: 7- Many don’t like it, but I do. Maybe it’s the old-style nature of it.
Programme: 8- The extended stats & historical pieces are a gem. Loving it.
Food: 8- The Steak & Ale pie was very good but the price knocks it down a bit.
Fans: 7- There was a fair amount of vocal backing, which lent itself to a decent atmosphere.
Value For Money: 7- Cheap travel £5, Pie £3.60, cut-price £10 admission, £3 programme. Cheaper than the Conference
Referee: 7- Honestly, I don’t really remember, I doubt anyone cares so a seven will do!