IT is going to be a season of firsts for Bury AFC as they prepare to kick off their inaugural campaign in North West Counties League First Division North.

With the fixtures now released and the 2020/21 campaign set to kick off on the first weekend of October and run until the first weekend of May, fans of the phoenix club can now plan for what is going to be a memorable eight months ahead.

Here, the Bury Times looks at the clubs Andy Welsh's side will face this season.

AFC Blackpool

Ground: The Mechanics

Nickname: The Mechanics

Manager: Martin Baird

Last season: 9th

Founded in 1947, originally as Blackpool Metal Mechanics, the club merged with Lytham St Annes in 2005 and then Squires Gate Junior FC three years later to form AFC Blackpool with the blessing of Blackpool FC who had to give their permission.

At the height of the protests against Blackpool FC owner Karl Oyston, Tangerines fans boycotted their club and opted to watch AFC Blackpool instead and were joined by some Leeds United fans swelling numbers to more than 500 spectators rather than the average crowd of 35.

AFC Darwen

Ground: WEC Anchor Ground

Nickname: The Salmoners

Manager: Kenny Langford

Last season: 13th

Another phoenix club having emerged from Darwen FC who were wound up in May 2009. AFC Darwen had to start in the West Lancs League, winning the Premier League title in their second season and earning promotion to the NWCL.

The standout season in the club's 11-year history was winning the Division One Trophy and promotion to the NWCL Premier Division via the play-offs in 2014/15.

AFC Liverpool

Ground: Rossett Park, Crosby

Nickname: The Little Reds

Manager: Chris Anderson

Last season: 2nd

Set up by disgruntled Liverpool FC fans priced out of watching Premier League football, the Little Reds started strongly to life in non league football - winning the Division One Trophy in their inaugural season in 2008/09, retaining it in 09/10 where they also sealed promotion.

Relegated from the top flight in 2017/18, AFC Liverpool were on course for promotion before the season was halted then abandoned.

Ashton Town

Ground: Edge Green Street

Nickname: The Town

Manager: Glynn Hurst

Bury Times:

Last season: 6th

Originally named Makerfield Mill, the team was set up in 1953 and comprised entirely of mill employees before being renamed Ashton Town in 1962. After playing in the Cheshire League and the Lancashire Combination, Ashton were founder members of NWCL Division Three in 1982.

Since then, Ashton have dropped back in to the Manchester League and Cheshire League, winning promotion back to the NWCL each time - most recently in 2017/18. This season they will be managed by a familiar face in former Shaker Glynn Hurst.

Atherton LR

Ground: Crilly Park

Nickname: The Laburnums

Manager: Mark Robinson

Last season: 17th

Set up by Joe Reilly as a junior team called Laburnum Rovers in 1956, the club progressed up through the age groups before joining the senior ranks of the Bolton Combination in 1961.

Joined the Cheshire League in 1980 but rules stated that the town's name had to be included so were renamed Atherton Laburnum Rovers.

Founder members of the NWCL in 1982, Atherton gained promotion to the Northern Premier League in 93-94 where they also reached the semi finals of the FA Vase. Relegated back in to NWCL in 96/97.

Bacup Borough

Ground: West View

Nickname: The Borough

Manager: Brent Peters

Bury Times:

Last season: 18th

One of the oldest teams in the league, formed as Irwell Springs Football Club back in 1879 by the Rankine brothers. Renamed Bacup in 1892, the club survived both world wars playing in the Lancashire League and the Lancashire Combination.

Another founded member of the NWCL in 1982, highlights include winning the Division Two title in 2002/03 and were Challenge Cup winners in 2003/04 and 2011/12.

Chadderton FC

Ground: Andrew Street

Nickname: Chaddy

Manager: David Fish

Last season: 12th

Started life as Burnley Lane Estate Junior in 1946, the club changed to Millbrow FC moving to Mill Brow and having to use the nearby Rose of Lancaster pub as changing rooms. Renamed North Chadderton Amateurs and played in the Oldham Amateur League in 1954/55.

Founder members of NWCL Division Two in 1982.

Cleator Moor Celtic

Ground: McGrath Park

Nickname: The Celts

Manager: Stuart Greens

Last season: 16th

The northern most side in the division, Cleator Moor joined the NWCL in 2018/19 having previously played in the Wearside League.

Reached the first round of the FA Cup in the 1950/51 season where they were beaten 1-0 by Tranmere Rovers. Notable former players include Workington-born Derby County and former England keeper Scott Carson.

Daisy Hill

Ground: New Sirs

Nickname: The Daisies

Manager: Brian Hart

Last season: 11th

The Westhoughton club was formed in 1894 and in 1896-97 became 'the invincibles' winning the Wigan and District League Championship without losing a game and also lifting the Westhoughton Cup.

They joined the Westhoughton League and in the 1920s and 30s were won of the league's most successful sides before folding before the Second World War.

Reformed in 1951, The Daisies went on to join the Bolton Combination - winning the Bolton Combination Cup four times and the Lancashire County FA Amateur Shield twice - and then the Lancashire Combination before the NWCL was formed in 1982. The hosts of Bury AFC's first game last month.


Ground: The Riverside

Nickname: The Riversiders

Manager: Richard Cookney

Last season: 15th

One of the league's newer teams, Garstang joined from the West Lancs League where they completed the double in the 2017/18 season - winning the Premier Division title and Richardson Cup which earned them promotion to the NWCL.

Finished in seventh place in first season in the league in 18/19 and reached the quarter-finals of the Division One Trophy

Golcar Utd

Ground: Longfield Avenue

Nickname: The Weavers

Manager: Ashley Connor and Gavin Connor

Last season: 5th

Successful first season in the NWCL last term for the West Yorkshire outfit.

Joined from the West Ryding Amateur Football League and were Premier Division champions in 2017/18 and 18/19 which earned them promotion.

Founded in 1904, the club initially played in the Huddersfield and District League.

Holker Old Boys

Ground: Rakesmoor

Nickname: The Cobs

Manager: Kevin Watkin

Last season: 10th

The second Cumbrian side in the division, the team started as Holker Central Old Boys and was set up for former pupils of the then Holker Central Secondary School in Barrow-in-Furness.

Renamed Holker Old Boys in1973, they joined the NWCL from the West Lancs League in 1991/92. They have a record attendance of 2,303 when FC United fans travelled north in December 2005.

Lower Breck

Ground: Anfield Sports and Community Centre,

Nickname: The Breck

Manager: Gary Moore

Last season: 1st

Would have been promoted had the season not been abandoned as they were 10 points clear at the top of the table.

The club was only formed 10 years ago by the wife of manager Gary Moore and he has been in charge ever since. They only joined the NWCL in 2018/19, finishing in fourth place.


Bury Times: Prestwich Heys, in red, in action against NelsonPrestwich Heys, in red, in action against Nelson

Ground: Victoria Park (Little Wembley)

Nickname: The Admirals

Manager: Andy Harrison

Last season: 14th

Formed in 1882, Nelson played in the Football League as a founder member of the Third Division North in 1921.

In 1922-23 were promoted to Division Two - their only campaign in the national league - and in preparation for the season, Nelson travelled to Spain and beat Real Oviedo 2-1 and then became the first English team to win at Real Madrid, running out 4-2 winners.

In 1926, 14,143 packed in to their former Seedhill ground for a Third Division North clash with Bradford Park Avenue


Ground: Ruskin Drive

Nickname: The Pilks

Manager: David Tickle

Last season: 8th

Last season was Pilkington's first in the NWCL having been promoted from the Cheshire League where they finished as Premier Division champions.

The club was officially founded in 1938 and the team's origins come from the Pilkington glass factory in St Helens.

Prestwich Heys

Ground: Adie Moran Park

Nickname: Heys

Manager: Matt Barnes

Last season: 7th

Bury AFC's local rivals joined the NWCL in 2015/16 - having enjoyed notably success in the Manchester Football League - but the club dates back to 1938.

In the 1960s and early 70s, Heys were considered one of the best amateur clubs in the county, winning the prestigious Lancashire Amateur Cup in 1967 followed by the one and only Lancashire Combination 'grand slam' in the 1970/71. In 1969/70, they reached the quarter-finals of the FA Amateur Cup


Ground: Stafflex Arena Storthes Hall Park

Manager: Ash Berry

Last season: 3rd

Formed in 1903 and folded in 1972, Resurrected in 1980 and spent 30 years in the Huddersfield District League before joining the West Yorkshire League. Based at the impressive Stafflex Arena, Shelley, they joined the NWCL in 2018/19 and last season challenged for promotion before the campaign was halted.

St Helens Town

Ground: Ruskin Drive Sports Ground

Nickname: Town, Saints

Manager: David Platt

Last season: 20th

Were rock bottom when the season was cancelled and travel to Bury AFC on the last game of the 2020/21 campaign. Enjoyed a late eighties golden era, winning the FA Vase and just missing out on a place in the FA Cup first round after losing to Morecambe in a fourth qualifying round replay.

Former players include former Burnley star John Connelly who was a part of the 1966 World Cup winning squad while Bert Trautmann began his career with the Saints.


Ground: Marley Stadium

Manager: Roy Mason

Last season: 19th

Will be Bury AFC's first league opponents when they kick off the season on October 3. The West Yorkshire side will play home games at Marley Stadium having moved away from Cougar Park. Joined the NWCL in 2018/19 and finished 15th in their inaugural campaign.



Sat 3 Steeton (H)

Tue 6 Holker Old Boys (H)

Wed 14 Pilkington (A)

Sat 17 AFC Darwen (H)

Tues 20 Prestwich Heys (H)

Sat 24 Shelley (A)

Tue 27 Garstang (A)

Sat 31 Golcar United (H)


Sat 7 Atherton LR (A)

Sat 14 Daisy Hill (H)

Sat 21 AFC Darwen (A)

Sat 28 Cleator Moor Celtic (H)


Sat 5 AFC Blackpool (A)

Sat 12 Lower Breck (A)

Sat 19 Garstang (H)

Sat 26 Chadderton (H)


Sat 2 Steeton (A)

Sat 9 Shelley (H)

Sat 16 Prestwich Heys (A)

Sat 23 Bacup Borough (H)

Sat 30 Ashton Town (A)


Sat 6 AFC Blackpool (H)

Sat 13 Nelson (A)

Sat 20 St Helens Town (A)

Sat 27 Atherton LR (H)


Sat 6 AFC Liverpool (A)

Sat 13 Holker Old Boys (A)

Sat 20 Pilkington (H)

Sat 27 Golcar United (A)


Sat 3 Lower Breck (H)

Mon 5 Chadderton (A)

Sat 10 Nelson (H)

Sat 17 Bacup Borough (A)

Sat 24 AFC Liverpool (H)


Sat 1 Daisy Hill (A)

Mon 3 Ashton Town (H)

Sat 8 Cleator Moor Celtic (A)

Sat 15 St Helens Town (H)