Bury are Promoted to League One
by The Boy Holty
Here's my match report in Diary form.
At about mid-day I set off to pick Tim up in Tottington and we set off towards Birkenhead, arriving there just after 1.30pm. The weather was fairly foul - rainy and cold all day, a far cry from the last promotion in 2011 at Chesterfield when it was glorious sunshine.
We parked in a residential area as we'd heard tales of cars being smashed up. It was only a ten minute walk to the ground though. Abandoning the pub next door as John said it was "ten deep at the bar mate", we went straight into the ground which turned out to be a masterstroke as the bar was clear so we had a few beers. As it filled up there was lots of singing and pre-match confidence and the atmosphere was electric.
We took our seats in plenty of time which was another good move as the stand was full a good twenty minutes before kick off and there were loads of people standing on stairs and in the aisles.
We were in the 'Cowshed' end of the ground opposite the end where they used to put us years ago when it was open terracing for the away fans. At either end of Prenton Park there are now two fine stands that will grace the Conference next season.
The match kicked off and the atmosphere was still good especially when we heard that Morecambe had scored against Southend after five minutes although it was very early and no-one was getting carried away.
The next news was that Southend had fashioned an instant equaliser and then it went flat. That set the tone for the rest of the half as on the pitch The Shakers struggled to make any sort of impact and Tranmere were playing with a freedom that is always hard to cope with. The remainder of the half was a nervy and tense affair. Tranmere thought they had scored with a great finish but it was disallowed for handball, a fact that took quite a few moments for everyone to realise with home fans celebrating and away fans like me cursing our luck. Bury had a chance but it was wide as the half drew to a close.
At half time the atmosphere improved again with people having a drink in the bars and there was a lot of singing and pointless throwing around of beer, which at £3.50 per bottle seemed a bit silly to me.
The second half got underway and once more it was a nervous occasion until ten minutes into the half when everything changed.
First, the news filtered through that Southend had conceded a second goal at Morecambe, and that picked up the crowd. There's nothing quite like that moment when the crowd starts cheering a goal scored a hundred miles away, its always a bit surreal. We were chanting 'One goal, we only need one goal' and that seemed to galvanise the players. A few minutes later some good passing play down the Bury left saw Chris Hussey square the ball to Tom Soares who, after a mis-control, knocked the ball past the keeper and into the goal and the Bury fans, all 2300 of us went absolutely fucking mental. That was the 61st minute and five minutes later came that moment again when half the Bury fans went up and were celebrating and the other half were looking around, checking phones and trying to confirm the news that Morecambe had indeed scored a thord goal against Southend and now lead 3-1. "If it stays like this," we all thought, "we're up."
Much to our frustration, Bury failed to kill the game off and Tranmere, to their credit kept going for that equaliser that would have had us planning a trip to Stevenage next Sunday, but Bury, as they have done on so many occasions this season, held on and held on and finally that wonderful moment when the ref blew his whistle and ended the game. We knew Southend had lost, didn't care that Wycombe had won and we knew that Bury were promoted.
I've seen four promotions in the 26 years that I've been watching Bury, Cardiff at home in 1996, Watford away in 1997, Chesterfield away in 2011 and now this one, Tranmere away in 2015. All were brilliant and this was just as good. At the moment it feels better than any of them and the main reason for that is because of what happened after the final whistle.
At the end of the game, some Bury fans ran onto the pitch, as they did when we scored. This time, the stewards let them stay as they were all well behaved and there was no sign of trouble. We wanted the players to come out. We were singing "Bring on the Shakers" but to no avail. After the announcement saying 'please make your way to the exits' (about ten times because no-one was going anywhere), they announced that the players would go back to Gigg where the fans could congratulate them there.
A group of us agreed to go back to Gigg where the club had impressively organised the social club to be open with plenty of bar staff on duty. Eventually, at about 8pm, the players arrived in their coach. There was at this time maybe 300 or more Bury fans. We crowded around the coach as it pulled in and then the announcement came to go into the Cemy end of the ground where the players would be introduced.
Everyone went in and sure enough each squad member was individually announced including some fringe players who hadn't played and Pablo Mills who had played his part early on in the season. Then the fans went on the pitch and the players were mobbed. I was stood next to Tim and I said "I haven't been on the pitch in years..." so on we went.
It was brilliant. The players were all there, plus the manager, chairman and various board members. I thanked, congratulated and shook hands with Joe Riley, Andrew Tutte, Danny Mayor, Craig Jones, Nathan Cameron, Tom Soares, David Flitcroft and Stewart Day. I couldn't get to Ryan Lowe or Daniel Nardiello and I didn't see Nick Pope. All of them seemed happy to mix with the fans, they all had time for photographs and it was such an amazing experience.
Its things like this that make it special and even now on Tuesday morning, I'm still buzzing from it.
So we're a league one club now and that means that next season we'll be mixing it with some bigger boys. We can look forward to playing Wigan, Blackpool and Milwall who have dropped out of the championship, we're swapping derbies with Accrington for short trips to Rochdale and Oldham. We'll play Coventry, Crewe, Port Vale and Walsall who'll bring decent crowds to Gigg, probably Sheffield United and possibly Preston. There's only Swindon (who might yet go up), Milwall, Peterborough, Gillingham and Colchester plus whoever gets promoted from the league two playoffs who you could call southern teams. The rest are all north or midlands.
Personally I'm looking forward to playing Blackpool as we haven't locked horns with them for years. I hope Swindon get promoted and then we can play Preston aswell. Its all good.
Hopefully with our new league status and with the lure of Carrington we can keep Nick Pope and Adam El-Abd and see some
new signings to make us competitive in league one. Its going to be tough, but its going to be ace.
There was some sad news on Saturday as Chris Sedgewick announced his retirement from football. He's been great for Bury and reprised his role against Tranmere as the guy who comes on to protect a slender lead. He'll be missed.
Football's all about heroes, and on Saturday and during the season as a whole, Bury have had a whole load of them. Heroes, the bloody lot of them.
Up the Shakers.