JOE Skarz proved many people wrong last season, and is determined to do the same in League One next season.

The Shakers defender, who was voted the best left back in League Two at the PFA awards, had to contend with a number of critics during the campaign, but emerged with his reputation boosted after playing a key role in Bury’s promotion.

He is now established as one of the best young defenders in the lower leagues, but it has not all been plain sailing.

“When I first signed for the club I spoke to (former Bury player) Danny Racchi and he said we had no chance of going up because we had lost a few key players,” said Skarz.

“And then, against Chesterfield, their manager John Sheridan turned to me and said that I had found my level in League Two. It did wind me up but I just do my talking on the pitch.

“It was out of order and there was no need for it, but I think I showed him he was wrong.

“We won promotion and everyone can see that we were the best team in the league. The only reason we didn’t win the title was because we had one or two dodgy results, which will always happen with such a young team. But, on our day, we were the best team in the division.

“I am looking forward to League One now. I am sure people will not fancy us to do well but I think our players will relish playing at the bigger grounds in League Two. You could tell by the way we performed at Chesterfield on Easter Monday. We really rose to the occasion.”

Skarz admits he did have a slight doubt about Bury’s ability to mount a challenge when he counted the number of players on the opening day of pre-season training, but has heaped praise on former manager Alan Knill for putting his faith in youth.

“We went for a run around Heaton Park on the first day of pre-season and there were only nine of us there so I turned to the gaffer and joked if he knew we needed 11 players,” smiled Skarz.

“But it turned into as tremendous season, one I will never forget, and the old gaffer deserves to take a lot of credit.

“He brought in players like myself, Tom Lees and Nicky Ajose when it would have been easier to bring in 30-year-olds with 400 games under their belt.

He saw something in us and I think there are a lot of players with bright futures at the club.

“In the summer, Huddersfield didn’t want me and a few clubs were interested but when I first met the gaffer I knew I wanted to come here. He helped me to improve as a player and a promotion on my CV at 21 years sold is not to be sniffed at.”

Being named in the team of the year, alongside Ryan Lowe, was the icing on the cake for Skarz but the Yorkshireman believes more of his team-mates deserved recognition.

“It was nice to be named best left back in the division,” he said.

“I wasn’t expecting it, but when I got the call about it, I was delighted. I thought Tom Lees and others should have been in the team, players like Damien Mozika, Steven Schumacher and Cameron Belford.

“There are no weak links in this team and we will only get better. That is exciting for the future.”