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NEIL BONNAR: Bury need to get to the bottom of fans' defection
AS a Bury lad it destroys me what’s happening to the town’s football club at the moment.
Gigg Lane was the first ground I attended on a regular basis and was fortunate enough to cover them for the paper for 10 years until 1999.
During that time they suffered one of the most difficult periods in their history and one of the most successful.
Since then the club have continued along their normal path of flitting between the lower two divisions.
They have had the odd brush with financial problems, but always come out the other side thanks to the care and commitment of the people who run the club and the unswerving backing of their wonderful fans.
I say “wonderful” because, while there may not be many of them, they genuinely do qualify for the oft-used tag as some of the best supporters in the country.
One fact that backs that up is that their away support last season was the highest ratio of their home crowd in League One at around 15 per cent.
And Bury fans are a rare breed. They have to be when most people in the town support the two Manchester giants and you have another big club in Bolton Wanderers down the road.
Down the years there has always been a hardcore home support of 2,000 to 2,500 who would turn up at Gigg Lane come hell or high water.
On Tuesday night there were 1,350 home supporters at Gigg Lane – 500 down on three days earlier.
Why did 500 of the hardest core football supporters turn their backs on their club?
That’s the question Bury must address to prevent their current crisis deepening.
And make no mistake, a crisis it is.
They are under their second transfer embargo in four months because they cannot pay their costs from their income and have twice had to take out loans from the Professional Footballers Association.
The supporters and the manager, Kevin Blackwell, have turned on each other, the latter questioning the supporters’ knowledge and intelligence in the pages of this newspaper.
Meanwhile, the club are staring relegation to League Two squarely in the face with attendances on which they cannot hope to maintain their historic place in Leagues One or Two.
Everyone involved needs to take a look at themselves and put the club first.
The next home game against Crewe Alexandra on Good Friday is going to be very interesting.
Up the Shakers.