IT may be true you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but Richard Hinds and his fellow old stagers proved on the training pitch that the club’s young pups still have a lot to learn.
Manager David Flitcroft took advantage of the club’s free weekend following the postponement of the Oxford United game to put his players through their first serious fitness test.
Using benchmark data sourced from his time working at Rochdale and Barnsley, he was able to rate each player on their personal fitness, comparing them with other members of the squad as well as the fittest players he worked with at his previous clubs.
And the results raised a few eyebrows.
Veteran midfielders Chris Sedgwick and Tommy Miller, aged 33 and 35 respectively, were only kept off the top of the charts by Hinds.
At 33 years of age and with five promotions and more than 350 league and cup games under his belt, Flitcroft may not have expected the dependable defender to rate so highly.
But the former Yeovil, Sheffield Wednesday, Scunthorpe and Hull centre-back believes a change in the country’s footballing culture is behind the surprising stats.
“All the older lads here – Tommy, Sedge and Procs (Andy Procter) – they are all very fit. I think that’s the way we were brought up,” he said.
“As young lads we got told to run and run. I think the game has changed a little bit now, but we have kept that physical fitness and we maintain it, we do work hard.
“I enjoy the physical side of the game and I enjoy working hard.
“The fitness has always been there; I am naturally fit so that’s a benefit. Hopefully I can keep going as long as I can.”
Hinds has endured a stop-start beginning to his Bury career, making just 13 appearances since joining on a free transfer in the summer.
The fear was that age was beginning to catch up with him after first Kevin Blackwell, then Ronnie Jepson and initially David Flitcroft picked younger defenders ahead of him.
But, after starting the last four games, Hinds is hopeful that, while he may no longer be blessed with lightning quick pace, his understanding of the game and natural fitness will see him have a much bigger input in the second half of the season.
“I can read the game well and I think if you look at a lot of the centre-halves in this league, they are not particularly quick,” he said, making a case for his defence at League Two level.
“I would say I can more than hold my own in this league and I feel as though I should have been playing a lot more.
“It’s nice to have played in the last few games.
“We’ve had some positive results and I feel we are heading the right way defending-wise and shape-wise, but there is still a lot of work to do.”