You guys know I’m a Manchester City fan, right? I think I may have mentioned it once or twice. I’m used to watching a Premier League team, with Premiership players earning Premiership salaries. You can experience the very best in hospitality and food, the very best in entertainment. These days it is a day out for some people, the football is almost an added extra.
Well last night I went to watch another local team: Bury. Recently their match against Southend United was abandoned because of the state of the pitch, due to a sustained downpour. It was rearranged for last night, and they declared that it would be free admittance for all supporters.
It was a fantastic gesture by a club that not so long ago nearly went out of business due to financial reasons. Life really is a struggle for the clubs at this level (they are three divisions below my City team) to exist and compete, every penny that comes through the turnstiles counts.
Locals responded, the ground was full, and the atmosphere was great (in certain respects, I think my own club has sold its soul, but that’s for another day). Unfortunately the Shakers did not get the result they were looking for, despite a host of first half chances. (They are going for promotion-winning their final three matches would guarantee it.) But much kudos to Bury.
I’ve always said that supporters of smaller clubs, such as those who follow local teams like Bury, Rochdale, and Oldham, who go week in week out in all weathers to watch their team, playing at a much lower standard than what is experienced at Premiership level, sometimes, most of the time, struggling, with few expectations of glory, are real football supporters. They refuse to jump onto the bandwagon of headline-hitting larger neighbours, in this case Manchester City and Manchester United, and remain loyal to their team and true to their hearts, finding their spiritual home in small, ramshackle stadiums of limited facilities but great camaraderie.
They still have the romance.
Good luck Bury, I hope you go up.