THERE is nothing funny about the sad demise of Bury Football Club, but, as centre-back Mark Hughes can attest, sometimes all you can do is laugh.
The 26-year-old defender has revealed how, as the wheels have fallen off the Gigg Lane outfit, gallows humour has helped to galvanise the spirit in the dressing room.
And that togetherness has shone through in Bury’s last two matches, with a threadbare squad earning a victory at home to Scunthorpe and an impressive point at Walsall.
“It has been tough,” admitted Hughes, who was thrust back into the heart of the defence for the relegation match against Oldham after spending three months out of the first-team picture.
“It’s easy to blame all the stuff going on off the pitch – we’ve got all the excuses in the world – but it’s sort of given us a bit of a boost because you’ve just got to get on with it.
“We could have been treated a lot better, but we haven’t sulked – we’ve got on with it and sort of had a laugh about it, if you can laugh about it.”
Hughes confirmed that the board held a clear-the-air meeting with the players at the end of last week, but left them uncertain as to what was going on or whether they would be paid this month.
“Look at all the successful clubs – they are all pulling in the right direction on and off the pitch,” added the former Everton trainee.
“At this moment in time, and through the season, I don’t think that’s been happening and I think it’s just filtered through the club.”
Hughes, like the majority of the Bury squad, is out of contract at the end of the season and does not expect to be offered a new deal after falling out of favour.
He was loaned to Accrington Stanley for a month in January following the arrival of Stephane Zubar and Ashley Eastham, but returned to Gigg Lane early after suffering a calf strain.
The defender was not expected to play again this season, but, after a timely recovery and injuries and suspensions to key players, has been given a chance to put himself in the shop window.
“There are quite a few of us up at the end of the season, but the manager hasn’t spoken to us because I don’t think he can at the minute,” said Hughes.
“It’s crazy, so I’m just playing and giving my best, and you don’t know who is watching.”
But he added: “So many lads go out of the game nowadays and it’s so hard to get back in. All the budgets are getting cut, so it’s tough.
“Just look at lads like (Tom) Soares, who was out of contract when he came here.
“He’s a good player, but there are a lot of lads like him out there. It’s a crazy world, but hopefully that’s not going to be me.”