A young Bury FC fan recently wrote an article entitled “The REAL football fan”. Bouncing off Peter Keighery’s very well written essay I would like to submit some evidence to show that it can be advantageous to support a club in the lower reaches of the football league.
Of course we all want our favourite team to be successful and to win silverware but we have to be realistic too. Bury FC is a famous old club, twice winners of the FA Cup, in 1900 and in 1903, the latter success a 6-0 trouncing of Derby County which remains the highest ever victory in an FA Cup final.
Every dog has its day apparently but it is highly unlikely that in my lifetime I will ever see the Shakers win the FA Cup or indeed be promoted to the Premiership (unless of course some rather wealthy Arab visits Bury Market one day and is so taken by our black puddings that he decides to invest a fortune in the Gigg Lane outfit).
Despite the obvious problems faced by clubs in the lower echelons such as cash constraints and the possibility of relegation to non-league obscurity it really is not all gloom and doom as far as the fan is concerned.
In submitting my evidence I am using my personal experiences of watching Bury FC.
Firstly, supporting an unfashionable team means that you know exactly when to turn up for matches. If it is a Saturday it is 3pm and if it is a midweek match it will be Tuesday at 7.45 pm. “Simples” as a now celebrity meerkat would have it.
Very occasionally Sky might wish to screen one of your matches live but it really is very occasionally, certainly in the case of the Shakers anyway. But what of the poor fans of Premiership teams who want to go and watch their team and find that they might have to sky plus some unmissable Saturday teatime televisual feast, cancel the family Sunday lunch or take some time off work all because the match has been switched to allow Sky to screen it.
Then of course there is the ease of entry to matches. Bury do not have a particularly large fan base - many of the borough’s residents preferring to support City or United - but it does mean you do not have a problem getting into the ground and picking your seat. In fact, whether you arrive at the ground shortly after 2 pm, as I often do to soak up the lack of atmosphere, or walk in at 2.59, you can usually find “your seat”. No such things as waiting lists for season tickets here.
Victories and success at this level are thoroughly enjoyable and I would controversially suggest they are perhaps more satisfying for our fans than for those of, say, Man United fans. That might sound ridiculous but surely fans of the Red Devils must get a little blasé about winning yet another title. Last season Bury were promoted to League 1 after too many seasons in the football basement and it tasted good.
And so a new season is fast approaching, the Shakers make the short journey into the white rose county on Saturday to play Huddersfield. The Terriers will be wanting to put the disappointment of failing in last season’s promotion play offs behind them and I am sure that they will once more be one of the stronger outfits in this division.
Meanwhile, a certain football magazine has predicted that Bury will finish 24th and will go crashing back into League 2. But what do they know? The writer has probably never experienced the joy of attending a game outside of the Premiership.