BURY fans joined forces with Rotherham supporters as they continue to help keep local bars afloat in readiness for the return of football next season.

Shakers supporters have been forced to look on from the outside throughout this season, their own club having been expelled by the EFL.

And, while the local football fans have been left out in the cold, the ramifications have been felt by businesses close to Gigg Lane who rely on matchday trade through the season, primarily the fans' traditional pre-game watering holes.

On Saturday, they were joined by coach loads of Millers fans on their way to their side's game at Accrington Stanley.

"Every other Saturday the three that have been hit most in the local area are the Stanley Club, Rose and Crown and the Staff of Life," said Jon Wiggans, a member of the group preparing to form a phoenix club to compete in non-league football next term.

"We've been having fan gatherings, going to a number of local places, mainly those three, as they are the most affected.

"Rotherham fans wanted to show their support so we arranged to meet up with them through Paul Delaney, from one of the supporters' groups, and we directed them to those three businesses.

"They could come last weekend because they were at Accrington Stanley. They have had their problems in the past so they know what it's like and they said they were made very welcome so might be back at some point. They had a good day, they got a last-minute winner at Accy too so they went home very happy.

"They had come prepared too, they had been running football cards, raffles and collections and gathered more than £500 before they even got here. They spent a couple of hours in the bars, who ended up taking more than £2,000 altogether."

The money spent by supporters has been something of a godsend for the local bars who have been missing out on matchday revenue.

And Wiggans says the support shown by rival teams' fans has been fantastic to see.

"It's great," he added. "Even though the football authorities have forgotten about us the wider community hasn't.

"Debbie Farrington, the landlady at the Stanley Club, told me they would probably have had to shut down inside six months if it hadn't been for the football crowds coming in. Unfortunately that's the effect the club being thrown out of the league has had on the wider community.

"We have had Swindon fans wanting to come along and do something to help out, Bolton fans are hoping to do something too.

"The town as a whole has been hit really badly. There will be football in the Bury borough next season but we don't know yet in which guise but in the meantime we're grateful for the support from the football community."