THE opening chapter in the brand-new history of Bury AFC began on a winning note in front of 150 lucky spectators.

Tickets for the pre-season friendly at Daisy Hill were snapped up in minutes and could probably have been sold 10 times over.

Created from the wreckage of Bury Football Club, who played their last league game at Gigg Lane some 449 days ago, a team of volunteers have created a new team out of nothing – a feat made all the more impressive considering it has been done in the midst of a pandemic which threatens to damage non-league football irrevocably.

The merits of launching a new club while the old one still sits in purgatory remains a topic of some debate among established Shakers supporters. But it is also fair to say that many have embraced a fresh start and those who stayed to applaud this team off the pitch at New Sirs sang the town’s name just no less proudly.

The phoenix club prepares for their debut season in the North West Counties League, playing under former Premier League winger Andy Welsh, and on this evidence they will be an entertaining bunch to watch.

The record books will show that full-back Matty Williams scored the club’s first official goal, arriving midway through a busy half which could, and should, have been a much higher-scoring affair.

Daisy nearly spoiled the party early on as Joe Mullarky struck the outside of the post with a thunderous shot after latching on to Jack Iley’s flick on.

Bury started to exert control, particularly down the right where Aaron Dwyer and Williams were a constant threat.

Kristian Holt had a shot scrambled off the line by Macauley Farrington, the ball eventually cleared into thick bushes at the back of the goal – and as if to underline the unglamorous nature of non-league football - retrieved by the Bury AFC chairman, Chris Murray.

The pressure continued to build. Mitch Bryant’s cross was turned over the bar by Sam Cook before George Blackwell shaved the post with a left-footed drive.

And then it happened. Williams powered home the opening goal after his first effort had been blocked – prompting a much-missed sound of celebration from the pockets of fans gathered around the perimeter of the pitch.

The lead should have been extended. Holt played Bryant in on goal, only for his to slide a shot narrowly wide of the post.

Cook’s labours in front of goal continued, too, and after the best passing move of the game he somehow lifted a shot over the crossbar from six yards out when it looked easier to score.

The predictable raft of half-time did not make life any easier for the home side, and ex-Celtic striker Calum Bagshaw was among the subs who got into the thick of the action.

Another, Adam McWilliam, inadvertently added the night’s second goal just before the hour mark when a poor clearance from the Daisy keeper bounced off the former Montrose forward and dribbled apologetically into the empty net.

Patrick Carney went close to making it three, his shot deflected up and over the crossbar.

Bury kept the tempo high, however, and they soon got the goal of the night through Lewis Gilboy – the ex-Accrington Stanley midfielder who began a sweeping move on halfway and was there to finish it on the edge of the box with a lovely curling right-footed shot.

There was a distinct air of offside about the fourth goal, finished by one of Bury’s trialists with 15 minutes left on the clock. But by that stage the game was long-since over as a contest.

McWilliams then grabbed his second with a stooping header from Carney’s right-wing cross – another free-flowing move which bodes well for the style of football Andy Welsh’s side is looking to play.

There are new names to grapple with and new grounds to visit but the town now has a functioning football team again. And long may that continue.