COMMENT: Bury FC. Why their sad plight should matter to every self-respecting football fan

Gigg Lane, Bury
Gigg Lane, Bury
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I CAN remember the silence as if it was yesterday.

While forlornly reading about the heart-rending plight of Bury FC; two-times FA Cup winners - I have been told often enough - my mind was instantly transported back almost a quarter of century to my student days in May 1995.

My Lancastrian house-mate, who remains a very close friend to this day, had solemnly headed back to his digs after a weekend away.

No ordinary weekend away to any old place, but to Wembley, at a time when it was still genuinely revered. Hallowed turf which clubs like Bury do not frequently stride out on.

His beloved Bury had just been beaten in the Third Division Play-off final against Chesterfield and the wounds were open and sore. A 94-95 season when I had been regaled with endless tales about the magnificence of Tony Rigby, Mark Carter, Roger Stanislaus and David Pugh - to name but four.

Not forgetting 'Sergeant Stant' and the exotically-named David Adekola, a ship-passing-through-the-night footballer whose brief voyage in Lancashire was a memorable one and included a hat-trick by the seaside at Scarborough that is still recalled by seasoned Bury veterans to this day.

But I digress. Upon my friend's return, his door was quietly locked on that doleful afternoon as if to escape attention. A grim, depressing Bank Holiday Monday afternoon.

I did not see him emerge for hours until he managed to hold an evening post-mortem into events amid seemingly endless cups of coffee and cigarettes as he sat on his own stewing in the kitchen for hours without a cooking utensil in sight.

Countenancing what he is currently feeling now does not bare contemplation.

A town famous for being the home of black pudding and the birthplace of Robert Peel, founder of the modern-day police force, Bury is on the cusp of being wiped off the Football League map - and sadly earning notoriety for being a footballing ghost town.

The town where the likes of Alec Lindsay, Terry McDermott and Lee Dixon flowered into footballing bloom - and plenty of others too. Where the twinkle-toed skills of David Lee were as close as it got to ballet in the mid to late Eighties.

Now the very real prospect remains of no flecks of white and blue being visible amid a scene increasingly dominated by the sky blue of City and red of United.

Few with a love of football in their soul cannot be moved by the footage on social media of the 78-year-old Bury fan struggling to come to terms to what is happening to his club; his sporting life. His life.

Amid the current megalomaniac obsession with VAR, the soap opera that is Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba and Frank Lampard's search for a first win as Chelsea manager - things that ultimately should not fundamentally matter in the greater scheme of things - a football club is close to death and people's lives are being affected and a town is facing the sort of blow to its collective pride that you usually receive from the closure of a car factory or steelworks.

Bury FC. Something that truly matters both to its loyal supporters who avoid the allure of the Etihad and Old Trafford and those who follow the club's fortunes on the periphery in the town.

But football is largely paying lip service to its plight.

Bury - an unfashionable lower-division football club. But a club older than Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle United.

A club whose plight does not fit the narrative amid the obsession with the cash cow that is the Premier League and all the trappings that go with it.