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The agony of seeing your club fade away

In the Market column, by Jeff Hoyle

I wouldn’t pass Norman Tebbit’s cricket test. I may have spent almost 40 years down in Lynn, but at heart I am still Lancastrian.

I may have left home to go to university when I was 18, but I still have an emotional attachment. One way this has expressed itself is my continued following of Bury FC.

What does the future hold for Bury FC?
What does the future hold for Bury FC?

I have seen highs – a 2-0 defeat at Anfield in the 5th round of the FA Cup and a victory away at Manchester City in a League game. There have also been lows.

Standing in the pouring rain as we failed to beat Tamworth and a plucky draw at Woking come to mind.

The day in the middle of June when the fixtures for the new season are released has always been eagerly anticipated, with trips to be planned and friends around the country contacted in anticipation of meetings during the coming months.

Gigg Lane, Bury FC's stadium
Gigg Lane, Bury FC's stadium

But this year it has been different. The writing was on the wall last April when we went north to see a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Cambridge United and rumours were circulating that the players had not been paid.

The club had been taken over just before Christmas as the grandiose plans of the previous owner began to unravel.

He had taken on Manchester City’s old training ground at Carrington and invested heavily in youth as I discovered on a cold winter’s night down at Stevenage where the youngsters continued their best run in the FA Youth Cup since the early 60’s.

The first team was also packed with stars, and despite the troubles behind the scenes went on to win promotion. While this was happening, his property empire was collapsing, and beset by a mountain of debt, he sold the club for £1.

The new owner promised us the world, but has not delivered.

I don’t know if he didn’t do the research properly, or if he had other motives, but it soon became obvious that he couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the bills. We struggled through to June and after several attempts a Creditors Agreement was approved.

Jeff Hoyle of CAMRA, Lynn News columnist
Jeff Hoyle of CAMRA, Lynn News columnist

The Football Lleague remained unconvinced that even this could be afforded and a stalemate was reached. The owner claims that he had given all the information required and the League were adamant that he hadn’t.

Deadlines were set, deadlines were missed and fixtures postponed.

The owner says little to anyone and seemingly refuses to either pay the debts or sell the club.

Pick another team, I have been advised, but as any true fan knows, you can change your car, your house or even your wife, but never your team. I have tried, crossing the road to watch Lynn a couple of times, a club that knows about going broke.

Perhaps that will be our future, reforming as a phoenix club and dropping down a few divisions. Maybe we will play at the Walks like former league teams such as Hereford, York and Chester will do this season.

It won’t be the same, but it has to be better than this zombie existence the Shakers are living at the moment.

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