Meet Our New Clubs: Bury AFC

Wed 5th August 2020 | Bury AFC
By Tom Besford

Nickname: The Shakers

Founded: 2020

Home Ground: Neuven Stadium (Radcliffe FC)

Manager: Andy Welsh

Bury AFC are a fan owned club formed in 2020 by supporters of Bury FC after their club were expelled from the Football League after failing to fulfil any of their opening fixtures.

Fans met at the Town Hall shortly after the expulsion where two possible options were raised around the future of football in the town. One of the options was fans being optimistic hoping that their club could be saved by a buyer and that they’d resurface in the National League. Realistically though the fans had to start looking into the idea of a phoenix club with the original idea receiving over three hundred responses from fans wanting to get involved. The club board was elected and the club now has over 650 members.

When Bury FC were removed from the Football League fans were devastated and many still are. It is therefore important to the new club to be sensitive to the situation and promote the fact that they’re open to all and that when fans are ready, they are welcome to join. The club runs the policy of one member one vote and like a number of fan owned clubs, they have the motto of 'By the fans, For the fans'. It’s a new journey for many of the fans who don’t really know what to expect and the board aim to be fully transparent where possible.

Rapid progress has been made at the club since that first meeting, and last month it was confirmed that they had been granted a place in the First Division North of the North West Counties Football League. Since then they have announced that they will be playing their home games just outside of the town ground, sharing with Radcliffe FC at their Neuven Stadium home ground.

They have also appointed former professional footballer Andy Welsh as the manager for their debut season in the non-league pyramid. The former Premier League player with Sunderland was selected from approximately 750 applicants for the position, impressing the Bury AFC board on interview with his drive to succeed and ability to work within the framework of the fan-owned club.

We spoke to club match day operations director Gareth Castick who talked us through the clubs ambitions for the season. “I think short term we’re aiming for promotion” said Gareth “That has to be the aim for the club as I am sure it is at many before a season starts, but its all very new to us so it will be a learning curve for all of us.

“Long term I think we want to climb the non-league pyramid as quickly as we can but do it in a way that is sustainable. That it very important to us after what happened with Bury. We are a fans owned club and everybody will have their say on important matters about the club. Our first ever kit is a prme example of that, with the designs being ones that Shakers Community fans voted for.

“The club are excited to be part of the North West Counties League for the new season and visiting some new grounds. Until we start, it is all a little unknown as to what gates we have, but we have sold over 800 replica shirts so far so the initial response has been positive. Bury fans were renowned as good travelling supporters, so we hope that we can have a bigger than average following which can also help some member clubs who may have struggled financially during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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