Most football fans have sat, glum-faced, watching a dire performance lasting 90 excruciating minutes. None more so than the average Bury fan at Colchester on Saturday. In fact, a Bury fan spends about 5% of their lives enjoying supporting their team. Yet, it just so happens that the 5% of joy has been experience in the last few months with Richie Barker taking the Shakers to the nosebleed heights of 11th in League One, despite last Saturdays hammering at the hands of Colchester. This, without their 20 plus goal-a-season talisman, Ryan Lowe, making the current position even more impressive.
As a Bury fan myself, it’s just a matter of “okay, when will it all go wrong?” Pessimism is engraved into my DNA due to my ill-fated club choice, still left with the scars of the early 2000’s where we feared the club’s rich history was about to be terminated with heavy debts hurling Bury back down to earth, or League Two as it is now known, after a breathtaking era under Stan Ternent.
A return to those glory days in the 1990’s still remains feasible to some. The club are on a good financial footing, having sold their management team, star striker as well as a few key midfielders which have brought in some much welcomed cash, without disturbing the assurgency of the Mighty Shakers. Most of which is down to the young, talented manager Richie Barker.
His chiselled features, athletic appearance and hero status could have you believe he’s more of a Greek God rather than a football manager in a quaint little Lancastrian town. Well I say quaint, Bury is home to the best market in Britain, blackpuddings, Robert Peel, Elbow, Danny Boyle and Victoria Wood. All of which seem to overshadow Bury Football Club. But for how long?
“It’s a good time to be a Shakers fan” seems to be the current motto amongst journalists and fans alike. At the beginning of the season, every Bury fan would have taken one place above the dreaded relegation zone. But with embedded pessimism, comes great expectation and even I, being the cynical fan that I am, found myself thinking the club are safe already upon observing the league table.
After seeing Bury get results against Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday and Preston, some are starting to dream of the play-offs. It’s the case for most football fans. Once we see our team briefly flirt with promotion, we begin to believe our club has a God given right to go up. Hopefully, Bury fans are far too grouchy to expect another promotion, but the fact I am even discussing this is a testament to Richie Barker’s achievements at the club.
The premiss of this current Bury squad however, belongs to some ginger unknown that is currently fighting relegation in the North East. Or something like that. Of course I’m talking about Alan Knill. Feelings towards the current Scunthorpe manager are not too warm after leaving Bury with eight crucial games to go in last season’s promotion campaign.
His current misfortune at his new club has been met with a boisterous “I told you so” from the Bury faithful, however through gritted teeth it has to be conceded that Alan Knill has played a part in this Bury side’s success. He brought in fans favourite Efe Sodje, tricky winger Mike Jones and captain Steven Schumacher who are the faces of Bury Football Club.
Yet Knill’s inability to finish off a successful promotion campaign was infuriating and even before he left for Scunthorpe, Bury were entering the inevitable downwards slide out of the promotion race. Richie Barker took over and the rest, as they say, is history. Something which Shakers fans love to boast about. Two FA Cups sit proudly in the club’s trophy cabinet, one of which was won 6-0 in the final against Derby County which is still an FA Cup record today. Bury are also the only club to have scored 1,000 goals in every division in the English Football League. Not bad for supposed ‘lower league minnows.’
These days however, it is not Bury’s illustrious past that is on the lips of Shakers fans. It’s the rise and rise of the present Richie Barker team that continue to impress. Who knows, in years to come perhaps Bury town will no longer be most famous for its black puddings, but for its football club.
Written by Peter Keighery, We Are Going Up’s Bury blogger
Peter tweets at @peterkeighery