IN OPPOSITION: BURY
A season of consolidation for The Shakers in their first season back in League One, David Flitcroft had his side looking towards a top six finish in the first half of the season, only to fall away towards the latter stages of the 2015-16 campaign.
Looking at Bury’s league history, a mid-table finish in League One is a great platform to build on. The Gigg Lane outfit gained promotion into the third tier in 2011 after finishing second in League One; it was their first appearance at this level since 2002 – almost a decade before their eventual promotion and return to ‘npower League Two’ as it was named at the time.
Bury were relegated back to the basement division in 2013 after a couple of years in League One and then after a mid-table finish (2013-14), they earned promotion with a third place finish. The likes of Leon Clarke and Tom Pope were added to an already strong squad going into the 2015-16 season and they retained the services of star man, Danny Mayor. Flitcroft’s men lost just one of their first thirteen games of the season to leave them in the hunt for another promotion, but a defeat to Bradford City at Valley Parade in late October began the start of a mid-season slump. The Shakers went on a run of picking up only nine points from twelve matches, but they eased any lingering threats of relegation with a return to form towards the end of the season.
The Shakers reached the FA Cup fourth round last season only to be beaten at home to a Hull City side who finished the season with promotion into the Premier League. En route to the fourth round, Bury defeated Wigan Athletic, Rochdale and Bradford City.
At The Helm: David Flitcroft
42 year old David Flitcroft is preparing for his third full season in charge at Gigg Lane after joining the club in December 2013, after he was sacked by Barnsley after 11 months in charge at Oakwell. The Bolton born former midfielder began his career in 1992 at Preston North End after progressing through the club’s youth system, but shortly afterwards, he signed for Chester City.
Whilst with Chester, he made 187 league appearances during a six year spell before moving back up to Lancashire, signing for Rochdale in 1997. David spent six years at Spotland, but following a brief stint at Macclesfield Town, he signed for Bury in 2004. Having spent two years at Gigg Lane as a player, Bury is a club he will have known well before being appointed as manager. He returned to Rochdale as Keith Hill’s assistant manager, putting an end to his playing career. He racked up over 500 career appearances and moved into full time management, getting his first break at Barnsley. In his first full season, he guided Bury to promotion into League One and he steadied the ship this season with a probable objective on the horizon of pushing on towards the top six.
Leon Clarke became the club’s leading marksman in his first season at Gigg Lane following his arrival from Championship Wolves. A player with a good goal-scoring record at this level, he managed 18 in all competitions for The Shakers and David Flitcroft will be looking towards the 31 year old again this coming season to fire his team up the table.
During Bury’s promotion year (2014-15), Danny Mayor was a vital player for Bury and was actually voted as the League Two Player of the Year for that season. He impressed during his club’s first season back in League One, scoring 7 goals in all competitions from wide midfield. A tricky player who is always a lively outlet for his team, Mayor will be one to watch again this season, that is for sure. One player who will be looking to kick on in his second season with the club, is Tom Pope. Arriving at the club alongside Leon Clarke, the two will be amongst the big earners at Gigg Lane and Pope managed 7 goals in his debut season; Flitcroft will be hoping the big frontman can return double figures this season.
Head to Head:
Bradford City and Bury have gone head to head on 74 occasions, with The Bantams taking a slight upper hand from historical meetings. Bury have 23 wins, there has been 25 draws and Bradford have won 26 times.
City came head to head with David Flitcroft’s side four times last season. The first meeting came in late October at Valley Parade; with Phil Parkinson’s side recording a 2-1 victory. Rory McArdle headed City in front on the stroke of half time and a Reece Brown own goal just after the break had The Bantams in control. It was to be a win for the hosts despite Danny Rose’s stoppage time consolation for The Shakers.
Three goalless draws then followed! In early January’s FA Cup tie, on a day where more Bradford fans were present inside Gigg Lane than Bury fans, nothing separated the two teams despite Gary Liddle and James Hanson missing gilt-edged chances late on. The replay at Valley Parade was settled on penalties and it was Bury who went through to the next round, confirming a tie with Hull City.
City went back to Gigg Lane in March for the return league fixture and it was the third successive goalless draw and probably a fair result on the day. It was a result which moved The Bantams to within three points of the League One play-off places and one which saw Bury drop to fourteenth in the table. Here’s a stat, there has only been six goals scored in the last seven fixtures between the two teams.
Their own patch:
Gigg Lane (known as The JD Stadium for sponsorship purposes)
A full seated stadium, the ground opened way back in 1885 but it has changed dramatically since its first use 131 years ago. Bury Football Club have occupied the ground since it was first opened and FC United of Manchester shared it for 9 years (2005-2014) before moving into their own newly built stadium.
It isn’t just football that’s been played at Gigg Lane as Swindon Rugby League also played their games there for ten years (1992-2002). Since the ground has been all-seated, the record attendance is 11,216 which was recorded when Bury played against local rivals Manchester City in 1997. The capacity of the ground used to be 35,000 and that capacity was reached when Bury hosted Bolton Wanderers in an FA Cup Third Round tie in January 1960.
Away supporters are housed in the Ratio Law Stand (The Manchester Road Stand) where just over 2,000 fans can be accommodated. The rare scenario of both stands behind the goals being given to away fans occured in January though with City taking just under 3,500 supporters for an FA Cup third Round tie. For away supporters the pitch is actually above seating level for the first few rows, so you won’t always get the best of views of the match, particularly with a number of supporting pillars potentially obstructing the view as well. Gigg Lane is a traditional English football stadium with statistics showing it to be an average sized League One ground; the thirteenth biggest in the division last season.
Postcode: BL9 9HR
Fancy a flutter?
Bury are backed at 8/1 to earn promotion this coming season and to go one better and win the league title, Sky Bet have The Shakers at 33/1.