Two men's mental health charity groups came together at Gigg Lane on Sunday in a family-friendly occasion that has been tipped to be an annual event.

Andy's Man Club groups in Bury and Rochdale played against each other in a bid to raise money and awareness for their cause.

The national charity aims to celebrate men coming together, talking, developing a network of support and promoting suicide prevention. 

Bury Times: Action during the match (Picture: Danny Crompton)Action during the match (Picture: Danny Crompton)

The dad of Andy's Man Club's Rochdale facilitator, Brad Garland, died from suicide in 2016.

He said: "Even though it was a game of football, it was about celebrating mental health and talking about issues men never usually would have told anyone.

"Seeing families and friends on the stands shows it's not just men opening up to men but they are also opening up and starting to talk to their families.

"The Rochdale club began in 2020 and Bury was formed from this when one of our members set it up so we have always had that close connection and we 100 per cent want to continue this on."

The event was free-to-attend and spectators saw Rochdale's side beat Bury's 4-1. 

Lead facilitator at the Rochdale group, Jake Roach, said "It was perfect, we had a crowd of around 50 to 60 people supporting us even in the 32C heat. 

"We are doing it to show people how you can come out on the other side of things by talking about your mental health.

"Being able to play at a stadium like Gigg Lane is a huge achievement, and by having the football side of things, Andy's Man Club can hopefully reach even more people."

The success has led to beliefs that it could be turned into an annual event. 

Jake said: "In future, we are going to try and organise another at a Rochdale-based ground, hopefully at Mayfield.

"Moving forward from that, we want to try and get other Manchester-based groups together and make it into an annual event."

Bury Times: Credit: Danny Crompton Credit: Danny Crompton

Both sides brought fans to cheer them on with some light-hearted banter, with the lady in the lion mascot outfit just about managing to cope with the heat by being cooled down by some youngsters with water cannons.

As well as the event offering lots of fun off the pitch, there was plenty of quality on it.

Rochdale was a strong team from the start, scoring in the first 10 minutes of the game.

After the match, they were presented with a small trophy.

The game was played in good spirits and the players congratulated each other after the final whistle and commented on the support that they have been receiving both from the public and other organisations bringing awareness.

Andys Man Club Bury, lead facilitator, Jacob Critchley, added: "It was a great day and a brilliant turnout  I just hope we can do another one."

Bury Times: Credit: Danny Crompton Credit: Danny Crompton

With both Bury and Rochdale keen to get the ball rolling on the pitch again, it seems as though a re-match is a possibility. 

Andy's Man Club Bury is based at Bury Sports Club while Andy's Man Club Rochdale is based at Mayfield Rugby Club and Rochdale Football Club

The groups carry out weekly, free-to-attend peer support groups.

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Bury Times: Credit: Stuart RileyCredit: Stuart Riley