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JAMIE HOYLAND: My Shakers wishes for a happy new year
5:00am Thursday 26th December 2013 in Sport
IT has been a rollercoaster year for Bury, in every sense of the word.
There has been plenty to talk about, both on and off the pitch, but the final few weeks of 2013 have offered a glimpse of a more settled future.
Off the pitch, new chairman Stewart Day has pulled off a number of key commercial deals to hopefully put Bury on a sounder financial footing.
While on it, he has appointed a like-minded spirit in David Flitcroft, who will hopefully be able to turn Day’s vision for the club into a reality.
As a former Bury player and a big fan of the club, all of this optimism has got me thinking over Christmas about a few of my own hopes and dreams for the Shakers future.
Stability – There have been many false dawns at Gigg Lane down the years, and every fan will tell you to be cautious of feeling too optimistic. Kevin Blackwell’s regime caused a lot of bad feeling on the terraces but now I think the majority of fans have a man in charge they are more than happy with. So first and foremost I hope to see Day and Flickers still at the helm this time next year and for everybody involved with the club to be pulling together in the right direction.
Winning games – It is the dream of every football fan to see their club winning trophies, but to do that first you need to win games. Bury have struggled to do that over the last two seasons, so rather than dreaming big I would first concentrate on small steps. Nobody wants to see Bury down the bottom of the League Two table, but if they can put a little run together that would put a smile back on the fans’ faces and the league position will take care of itself.
Squad reshuffle – It sounds like Flickers has already got a shopping list for the January sales and I hope he manages to land all of his main targets. I have talked about building from a firm foundation and I am pretty sure that’s where he will start, but that doesn’t necessarily mean going out and buying a brand new defence. I think we already have the makings of a decent squad, but it needs a spine running through it of players who have the hunger and desire, as well as the ability, to play for Bury Football Club.
Loan stars – Some of Bury’s best players this season have been loan signings. The majority of the deals run out at the start of January, so it is imperative Flickers is on top of that. Danny Mayor is signed up until the end of the season, but it would be fantastic if he can sign Shaun Beeley and Danny Nardiello on longer-term deals. It is also important the manager can find another striker capable of finding the net regularly, to put a bit of pressure on Nards and Shaun Harrad.
Youth is the future – This football club has a proud history of producing its own players and the key to its future is getting back to that. By all accounts, Alan Moore was starting to mould some decent young players in the academy and it is important the new man carries on his good work. Young Regan Walker has already broken into the first team this season and I understand Navid Nasseri is not far behind him. If just one of the guys coming through can nail down a regular spot in the starting line-up then that would be a start.
Championship goal – I think the chairman is right to think big and talk about a five-year plan to break into the Championship. I share his ambition and I hope he can pull it off. Competing with the big boys will always be difficult for Bury as the club struggles to drum up big enough attendances to create the revenue needed to do that. But if the football is good to watch and the results are there, then I see no reason why the gates cannot be increased to give the club that platform for success.
Wembley way – It has been nearly two decades since the club graced the hallowed turf and I think it would be a fantastic fillip for everyone if we could find our way back there. Bury have never played at the new Wembley, of course, so it is about time we joined that party. Promotion is always going to be the goal, but doing it via a play-off final would be something. Failing that, I would take automatic promotion and a shot at the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy next season.
Pitch perfect – To be an established Championship club, Bury will need facilities to match. When I played at Gigg Lane the pitch was always immaculate and that obviously helped us to get the ball down and play, especially under Martin Dobson. That is the Flickers’ way, so I would love to see the JD Stadium provided with the surface to match his ambition. A state-of-the-art training complex would also be invaluable. Not only would it improve training, it would also help attract the kind of player Bury will need to reach the next level.
Old foes – People talk about Rochdale as our main rivals now, but in my day it was always Bolton Wanderers and it is about time we were playing them regularly again. A cup match would be a start, but I can’t wait until the day we can go toe to toe with Bolton on an equal footing once again. And who knows, with the way Wanderers are going, it may happen sooner than you think!
Back to the future – Personally speaking, I would like to take some of my old pals, like David Lee and Liam Robinson, back in a time machine. I was lucky enough to play for a manager who wanted to play good football, just as Flickers does now. So I would love nothing more than for me, David and Liam to be transported back to our youth so we could don a Shakers shirt once more and give the current squad a hand.