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Shake it all about


I’m not too sure what to say about Bury 2 Buried 1 that hasn’t been said already. No doubt there’s been plenty of gnashing of teeth, a lot of naughty language expressed, and that feeling we had up until late October again.

Not that any of it wouldn’t be justified.

Seriously, this stunk of shit. I don’t know whether it was a botched squad rotation, or having to go up North twice in about four days, or the cold weather being too much for our collective hairsprays.

Whatever it was, it was wrong from the off. A bad attitude, a complacent one at that. Especially against the side down the bottom who we should beat, with all due respect.

Your editor has been lucky, insofar as I haven’t seen the worst “performances” this campaign, but this was reminiscent of Fleetwood and Oxford. True, we stopped the haemorrhaging for a little while, after discovering how to attack.

This was a step backwards, at a time when we need to be moving forward even more than ever.

I suppose the thought in my mind right now is “timid”. Bury had a go at us, and we didn’t know what to do. Hell, we even had to rely on them scoring our goal…

Which might have been the thing that pissed me off most of all. When you’ve played poorly, but you’ve pulled it back to 1-1, that’s a lifeline you should take with both hands. Instead we did, well, not a lot.

Only one team looked likely to add more, and it wasn’t us. In fact, if it had finished 3-1 or even 4-1, I wouldn’t have been that surprised.

Still, if nothing else, it highlighted a few things. Paul Robinson sadly proved why he was a good player for us (emphasis on “was”), and if he’s going to make more than an off-the-bench cameo we’ll be in trouble.

It also proves that we simply don’t have enough strength in depth to rotate properly – I don’t blame NA for trying to not run our squad into the ground this month, but he should be prepared for the grief coming his way if he goes negative again.

Putting Taylor on the bench then having to bring him on at half time tells its own story.

Oh, and as for our set pieces….

Seriously, if you’re an opposition manager, you can nullify us by forcing us to deliver corners or free kicks into the box. Needless to say, we barely beat the first man. Occasionally, I’m convinced we didn’t even get that far.

Not just once or twice, this is League One after all, but virtually every time. This was your editor’s first game since Southend on NYD and I was shocked at it, so fuck knows what those who watch us more often think.

I can only assume we do very little set-piece training during the week. It’s so consistently feeble that it’s borderline negligent.

The quip that our manager is likely still the best dead ball specialist at the club would be funny if it didn’t have a grain of truth to it. Why are our strikers taking them? Are we trying to be too clever? Or are they really all we’ve got?

The most important takeaway is that we’re back in it again. We’ve lost two games in quick succession, looked genuinely poor in one of them, and Northampton suddenly becomes a biggie.

We have to get a result against the Cobblers, even if it’s just a draw, because momentum downwards can be a real killer. And a loss of patience is never far away.

Anyway, as we must do the following…

Plus points: The full time whistle. Piggy played OK enough.

Minus points: Everything else from 19h45 to the end of the game. Our set pieces.

The referee’s a…: Decided that the match was playable, unfortunately. In hindsight, couldn’t we have had the original ref for this game? At least I could have spent the evening in Manchester instead.

Them: Deserved to win, and perhaps by more. It was hard to see a lot of the time which side would likely be in L2 next season and which one should still escape. They were as positive as we were negative, and I bet at times they couldn’t believe their luck.

There were times when their lack of quality showed, and perhaps that is what will ultimately send them down. Still, you wouldn’t be surprised if they somehow swung themselves out of the drop zone.

Not a massive amount of people there, although Bury have always been a bit of an also-ran in the area. They have some real giants on their doorstep – not just Yernited and Citeh, but even the likes of Burnley, and – if you push it – Stoke and the two Merseyside clubs.

Perhaps that’s why their PA bloke at the end said something like “thank you for supporting your local club”?

Seemed a friendly enough bunch, and gave Soares a nice ovation when he got yanked off. Oh, and never tell a steward you’re staying in Ordsall…

Point to ponder: Was January lulling us into a false sense of security? Or to paraphrase what the youngsters say these days, “#fakeresults”.

We played a Southend that soon axed Phil Brown, a Blackpool on an awful run of form, and gubbed a Bradford so bad even Huddersfield fans started feeling a bit sorry for them.

Add to that the almost triumphant gloating about where Franchise is right now, and our cockiness has been slapped down a peg or three. It could be a metaphor for AFCW generally, but we’re not quite as good as January made us out to be, after all.

You don’t need me to remind you that we’re still in very real relegation danger, and if we’re to escape we’re going to have to knuckle down, work hard, work smart (no stupid tinkering) and hope we get lucky with injuries.

This month alone, we’ve faced a Rotherham side who aren’t mugs, and a Bury outfit fighting for their lives. Northampton will be on Saturday too, and come to think of it most teams this month need the three points.

They don’t call this the business end of the season for nothing. A drop in form is more or less inevitable anyway, but our task is to make sure it doesn’t cripple us again. We can’t afford many more shithouse performances like Tuesday.

After the euphoria of NPL finally getting the green light, reality on the field may start to bite again, and this has the potential to be a rather unpleasant month.

As for NA’s Manager of the Month nomination, perhaps it might be best if he doesn’t receive it after all. We all know about the curse of those who win it…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The “Neville Neville” stand. So good, they named him twice. 2) The Bury Samaritans office, with a big freephone number by the tram stop. Rumours they had to limit calls from south west London last night are unconfirmed. 3) 131 of us there. Could have been better, but worries that the game was off, and in an expensive month as well contributed to that. Wonder how many we’ll get for Plymouth?

Anything else? It seems that two of my recent updates – Back to Plough Lane and Walking Down the Haydons Road – were quite well received. Can’t think why 😉

And yes, talking about this kind of stuff is a nice distraction from the on-pitch bollocks again. I didn’t enjoy writing most of the above, but I do with the following.

A few things did spring out when I published both of these pieces (and you would not believe how long I’ve wanted to write these – not 26-year-long, but as far back as 2016, which somehow made it feel even more prolonged).

Firstly, thanks to those who pointed out the Tesco Express on Garratt Lane was the Prince of Wales in a previous life. It had quite an “interesting” owner, apparently.

EDIT: Since I posted it, I’ve since found out that this is the current wood flooring shop, aka the Hare and Hounds. The Tile Giant shop is what was the Plough was. Both looked quite, erm, salibrious.

It does prove how little the doggers and stockies put into the local area, if three pubs within the space of half-a-mile closed down when they were still there. Remember that the next time the stockies whinge about us making it a “ghetto”.

Secondly, this does seem to have awoken people into what our future is going to be. “Going home” is no longer an abstract concept. I’m told that many a hair stood on the necks of those who heard “we’re on our way home” at Rotherham.

There wasn’t much singing at Bury, but everyone at freezing cold Gigg Lane had an excuse.

Thirdly, and this bit was quite sobering to write about – some people are going to start feeling very old.

Somebody on Twitter, who I don’t think was a youngster, asked where and what the Batsford Arms was. For those who don’t know, it was a (private members?) bar that was located inbetween the West Bank and the South Stand.

It closed in about 1985/86, and became a refreshments area soon afterwards when we stepped into the top flight.

I give this brief history lesson, because it’s surprising how many wouldn’t know that. Not just those who never went to old PL but even those who did – we’re talking those who started going in 1985 and later.

Your editor only vaguely remembers its existence, and it just shows that there’s still a lot of WFC-related history that needs to be dug up and explored again. After all, what’s the betting at least one person has read these last few paragraphs and asked “what was the West Bank…?”

So, was it worth it? Piss off.

In a nutshell: Back in the shit again.