Bury 1885

They played their first matches at Gigg Lane and have played their ever since. The inaugural match at Gigg Lane was a friendly match between Accrington and Church played on 6th June 1885.The club only played friendly matches for the first three years of its existence.

Bury played their first game on September 5th 1885 when they travelled to Little Lever. The match ended in a 0-0 draw.The club's first colours were chocolate and light blue halved shirts. In the early days at Gigg Lane lack of facilities meant that the teams had to get changed at the nearby Pack Horse Hotel.

Bury's fiercest rivals in the early days were Heywood Central.The 1889-90 season saw Bury play two charity floodlit games against Heywood. 5,000 spectators watched a 1-1 draw at Heywood and 7,000 people saw Bury lose 4-5 at Gigg Lane on Bonfire Night.

Bury's first FA Cup match should have been against Blackburn Rovers on 15th October 1887. However Bury's committee realised just before kick-off that they would be fielding a number of ineligible players and therefore 'scratched' from the competition. A friendly match was played instead which Rovers won 10-0- the players had not apparently been told of the change in the match's status.

Bury first appeared in their famous white shirts and blue shorts strip on 8th September 1888 for a match against Halliwell. In 1889 Bury were instrumental in forming the new 'Lancashire League' and so the 1889-90 season saw Bury join Blackburn Park Road, Blackpool, Earlstown,


Fleetwood Rangers, Heywood, Heywood Central, Higher Walton, Hyde, Nelson, Oswaldtwistle Rovers, Rossendale, Southport Central and West Manchester as founder members.

Bury won their first ever trophy in 1890 when they defeated Blackpool 2-1 in the Final of the Lancashire Junior Cup held at Blackburn's Leamington Road ground. In 1890-91 Bury were crowned champions of the Lancashire League, finishing three points in front nearest challengers Blackpool.


It was at the Lancashire senior Cup Final against Blackburn Rovers on 23rd April 1892 that the club's chairman/team manager Mr JT Ingham is reported to have said '' We shall shake 'em. In fact we are the shakers.'' and so their famous nickname came into being.

In early May 1894 the Bury Times wrote '' that Bury will have to cease to act as the mainstay of the Lancashire League and turn to a League in which something will be found that reawakens the interests of its members.'' Taking this advice on board Bury applied to join the Football League and they were elected to the League on 21st May 1894.

Their first game at this exulted level was a home fixture against fellow new boys Manchester City on 1st September which resulted in a 4-2 win for Bury.
The first season exceeded everyone's wildest hopes as Bury romped away with the title winning all fifteen home games in the process. A 1-0 away win at Burton Swifts on April 6th secured the Championship and Bury eventually finished nine points ahead of their nearest challengers.


Bury's first ever match in the First Division was away to Notts Forest on 5th September 1895. It was not an auspicious start as Bury went down to a 5-0 defeat. After struggling in the first half of the season a run of six wins and a draw in the New Year helped them to a finish in 12th place.

In January 1897 Bury signed one of their greatest ever players when the club paid £50 to Bolton W and £65 to Halliwell Rovers for James Settle. In those days a player could be registered with more than one club. Settle scored eight goals in his first twelve games. During his time with the club Settle became the first Bury player to win international recognition, playing for England against Scotland, Wales and Ireland in 1899. He was eventually sold to Everton for £400 in order to balance the books

During the 1898-99 season a debate on the lack of support the club enjoyed at the time threw up the suggestion that the club should move lock, stock and barrel to nearby Rochdale, where it was felt that support would surely increase.

The Shaker's financial problems were alleviated in the 1899-1900 season by their successful adventures in the FA Cup. After defeating Notts County and Sheffield United on their way to a semi final tie against Notts Forest Bury were in no mood to be vanquished and they progressed to the Final after triumphing 2-1 in a replay.

The Final was played in front of 68,945 spectators on a sweltering afternoon at Crystal Palace. On the day Bury were had far too much class for their opponents Southampton and ran out comfortable 4-0 winners with goals from McLuckie 2, Wood and Plant. Bury's share of the gate receipts, almost £939, went a long way towards easing their financial worries.

This was a golden era for the club as in October 1900 Bury beat West Brom 6-1 at Gigg Lane and went to the top of the First Division for the first time in their history although they eventually finished fifth.

The 1902-03 season brought a memorable treble cup triumph as Bury won the three domestic cup competitions that they entered- the FA Cup, the Lancashire Senior Cup and Manchester Senior Cup. The FA Cup Final brought Bury face to face with Derby County. Bury's side contained six of the players who had collected winners medals with the club three years earlier.

Against an injured goalkeeper Bury showed no mercy. George Ross put the Shakers into the lead after 20 minutes. Bury's second goal was scored by Sagar. Leeming netted Bury's third goal while the Derby keeper was off the pitch. Wood and Plant added further goals before Joe Leeming ended the scoring when he sent a shot rocketting into the net for Bury's sixth goal after 75 minutes. The 6-0 result was a record that stands to this day. Bury also equalled Preston's record of winning the FA Cup without conceding a goal.

At the end of the 1904-05 season Bury finished next to bottom of the First Division but were saved from relegation when the League was expanded from 36 to 40 clubs and Bury were re-elected back to the top division. Bury played seventeen consecutive seasons in the First Division until their relegation at the end of the 1911-12 season. The rlegation season saw the departure of star forward, Billy Hibbert, to Newcastle for a fee of £1,950.


The Shakers did not find life in the Second Division any easier and they soon found themselves near the bottom of the table beset by financial problems. Their fortunes had only improved slightly when WW I ended League football for the duration.

In January 1923, with the team occupying second place in the table, a match-fixing scandal broke at Gigg lane when several members of the board resigned following allegations that a match against Coventry C in April 1920 had been fixed. An FA Cup commission was appointed to look into the matter and eventually found against the club declaring that it was satisfied that '' an arrangement was made that the match played at Bury in 1920 should be won by the Coventry club………Messrs JW Horrocks, F Reed, WS Cameron, J Allan, W Ritchie, J Goldie, J Marshall, D Cooke and GD Chaplin are suspended permanently and T Cornthwaite for twelve months from the 29th May 1923 from taking part in football or football management.

The clubs are each fined £100.''

After playing their final match of the 1923-24 season Bury lay in 2nd place in Division 2, two points ahead of Derby County in 3rd, with Derby having one game left. Derby needed to win 5-0 if they were to displace Bury and after seventy minutes they led 4-0 but were unable to score another goal and so Bury were promoted on goal average by 0.02 of a goal.

Back in Division One the club embarked on a series of improvements to the Gigg Lane ground. These measures were put to the test in the first game when 33,523 spectators crammed into Gigg Lane to witness the match against Manchester City on 30th August. Unfortunately for Bury it was the visitors who came out on top 2-0. A 5-2 victory over Spurs on New Years Day raised Bury upto eight position and they folowed this with an eleven match unbeaten run which moved the Shakers upto the dizzy heights of fourth place. At the end of the season Bury had dropped one place to finish 5th.


With the majority of the playing staff retained for the new season Bury's expectations were high. Although they never realistically challnged Huddersfield for the title, despite the goalscoring exploits of Norman Bullock, their final fourth position on the field and their profit of £12,010 off the field meant that this was one of the most successful seasons in Bury's history.

On 25th May 1927 Percy Smith was appointed as the club's fourth manager. His first game in charge brought a 5-1 victory over Arsenal. A 5-3 win at Sunderland on October 1st sent Bury to the top of the league for the first time in four years. During the season Jack Ball became the fourth Bury player to be picked for England. The team were unable to maintain their early season form and they finished in fifth place.

The 1929-30 season proved to be disastrous for Bury. An injury to their Scottish international centre half Tom Bradshaw robbed the defence of its solidity and the teams form suffered accordingly. Relegation was the end result and Bury's last game in the top division was the 3-3 home draw against Derby County that took place on 4th May 1929.


In the 1930's Bury made several decente attemps to regain their place in the top division led by the goalscoring exploits of JR Smith. Unhappily economic circumstances in the country at large, from which Bury were not exempt, meant the club was run on a shoe string budget for several years as falling gates and consequent revenues took their toll.

When 37 year old JR Smith moved to Rochdale during the summer of 1933 Bury lost thegoalscoring talents of one of their best ever forwards. His place was partly filled by another Bury legend, Dave Robbie, who scored the 100th goal of his Bury career in the 2-1 win at Lincoln in January 1934.


However apart from the 1936-37 season when Bury came within a whisker of promotion when they finished 3rd the mid 1930's were a time of mid table obscurity.

Norman Bullock was appointed Bury's manager for the first post WW II season. The opening fixture was a home game against Fulham as the Football League used the same fixture list as they prepared for the ill-fated 1939-40 season.

Eddie Kilshaw scored Bury's first goal of the new era with Gigg Lane treated to a 7-2 home win. In January Don Carter and George Mutch both scored hat-tricks in a 6-3 victory over Bradford Park Avenue. On 15th February Eddie Quigley scored all five of Bury's goals when they demolished Millwall 5-2 at Gigg Lane. With an average attendance at Gigg Lane of 14,764 Bury managed to finish the season in 17th place.

These early seasons after the war were extremely disappointing for the Shakers as they constantly battled against relegation to Division Three. The constant sale of players to keep the club going meant the team was being weakened as stars were replaced by less talented men. Amongst the players sold were Eddie Quigley who was sold to Sheffield Wednesday for £12,000 and Eddie Kilshaw who was sold to the same club for £20,000.


The problem faced by the Bury board was succinctly put by acting Chairman Alex Lawson when he stated ''….. The population of Bury is by far the smallest of the towns in Division Two……….Consequently our gates are not sufficient to run the club without being subsidised by transfer fees.'' A fact that still rings true today.

Inevitably the denudation of the playing strength had its effect and in 1956-57 Bury were relegated to Division Three North for the first time. Bury began life at the lower level with five successive victories, on16th September John Willie Parker scored four goals when the Shakers hammered Tranmere 8-2. As the season moved to its climax Bury's away form wavered and so despite scoring a record 92 League goals they only finished fifth.

Following three more disappointing seasons Bury finally hit the jackpot in 1960-61. Cut backs off the field meant that Bury began the new season with less optmism than had been the case previously. However once again they made an excellent start to the campaign and this time they didn't fade away. After losing for the first time in their sixth game they then embarked on a run which brought twelve victories in their next thirteen games as they took over pole position. Included in the wins were a 7-1 victory at Tranmere and a 7-0 home win over Notts County.

On 10th February centre half John McGrath was transferred to Newcastle for £24,000 plus the influential Bob Stokoe. Such was Stokoe's influence Bury remained undefeated in their final 18 League games. On 4h April Don Watson netted Bury's 100th League goal, they went on to finish with108 League goals to their credit as they ran away with the title.

Bury's first season back in the higher Division was one of consolidation with the Shakers ending the campaign in a reasonable 18th position. 1962-63 was Bob Stokoe's first full season as player-manager and he led them to a highly creditable 8th place. Indeed for a short spell in the season promotion to the First Division seemed a distinct possibilty before a two month freeze brought football to a halt, a disruption from which Bury never recovered.

In the 1963-64 season a young Colin Bell, signed from the Horden Colliery Welfare club, made his debut for the club in a 1-1 draw with Manchester City. 1965-66 was a season of change as Bob Stokoe resigned as manager to be replaced by Bert Head. Ray Pointer was signed from Burnley for £7,800 and he went on to score 17 goals in 19 games before being sold to Coventry City on Christmas Day for £20,000 much to the disgust of the Bury fans. Later that season the inevitable happened when Colin Bell got the transfer he desired when he was sold to Manchester City for £45,000.

Les Shannon was named as Bury's new manager on July 11th 1966. His mostly home grown team struggled from the off and by February desperate measures had been decided upon. Bobby Collins was signed on a free transfer from Leeds for a £5,000 signing on fee and a weekly wage of £100, more than twice what anyone else was earning. £45,000 was spent securing the services of Alex Dawson, Hugh Tinney and Greg Farrell. All this activity was in vain as Bury were relegated back to Division Three.

The club's stay in Division Three proved to be of the shortest possible duration. With George Jones and Bobby Owen consistently amongst the goals and Gigg Lane proving to be a veritable fortress Bury were soon amongst the front runners. By the time of their final home game of the season, against Watford, Bury needed a win to secure pomotion. Bobby Owen scored his 23rd goal of the season as Bury eased to a 2-0 victory. Unfortunately Bury were unable to consolidate their place in Division Two and for the second time in three seasons Bury were relegated.

Bury struggled on their return to Division Three. Boardroom squabbles and wrangles unsettled the whole club. Despite George Jones topping the country's scoring charts with 26 goals Bury only narrowly avoided a second conscutive relegation. Bury's woes were not over however and by the end of the 1970-71 season they found themselves in the Fourth Division.

The Shaker's spent three unremarkable seasons in Division Four and it wasn't until the appointment of Bobby Smith as manager that their fortunes turned around. Replacing Allan Brown as manager on 19th November 1973 Smith saw his team lose five of the first six games of his reign. Following the signing of Jimmy Nicholson from Huddersfield Town Bury lost just two of their last 23 games and consequently won promoton in 4th place.

On 21st February 1976 entered the new commercial era when the Skipton Building Society paid the grand sum of £200 for the privilege of being Bury's first ever match sponsors for the game against Preston which Bury won 2-0. On the field Bury consolidated their position with two mid table finishes in the next two seasons. An improvement in 1976-77 saw Bury rise to 7th place with Andy Rowland scoring 21 goals for the club.

There then followed two nondescript finishes15th and 19th before disaster struck again as Bury suffered another relegation season. The 1980-81 season began with the appointment of Jim Iley as manager. He spent four years attempting to mould a winning team on ever diminishing resources. In the 1980-81 season Craig Madden broke the club's goalscoring record when he netted an incredible 42 goals for the club.

Eventually the continual sale of Bury's better players and their non replacement meant the team's form suffered. The net result of this was the replacement of Jim Iley by temporary manager Wilf McGuinness in February 1984. On 14th March Martin Dobson was appointed as Player/ManagerDobson used the rest of the season to evaluate the playing staff and then strengthened the wafer thin playing staff in the close season bringing in players such as Andy Hill, Trevor Ross and Leighton James. In the event Bury used just 15 players during the season as they romped away to promotion.

After narrowly avoiding relegation in 1985-86 Bury gradually climbed the table in the following seasons, finishing 16th, 14th and13th before making a concerted push for promotion in the 1988-89 season when they reached the play offs after ending up in 5th place. The team came up against Tranmere Rovers in the play off semi final and after drawing 0-0 at Gigg Lane in front of 7,019 spectators they lost the second leg 0-2.

In the 1990 close season Bury spent what was for them a small fortune on new recruits such as John McGinlay, Colin Greenall and Roger Stanislaus. Bury the proceeded to enjoy a fine start to the 1990-91 season and were soon amongst the promotion front runners. Then severe financial problems off the field led to the sale of several key members of the side. The net result was a slide down the table which almost led to relegation. The seemingly inevitable happened though next year when Bury were relegated once again.

The highlight of the 1992-93 season was Bury's 3rd round FA Cup tie at Old Trafford played in front of 30,688 people. The Shakers put up a good fight before losing 2-0. The next major upturn in the club's fortunes came after Stan Ternent was made manager on 18th September 1995. He inherited a team from Mike Walsh that had reached the play offs the previous year and moulded them into a promotion outfit. Ternent liked to base his teams on a sound defence and so in the summer he signed central defender Paul Butelr from Rochdale and goalkeeper Dean Kiely from York City.

Playing in front of a dfeence that gave nothing away Bury were soon in the promotion places. They took over the leadership of the division when they overcame close rivals Brentford 2-0 on 29th March. The Shakers were not headed again and they clinched the title with a 2-0 win over Millwall. Bury's resolute defence kept them in Division One in 1997-98 as they goals hard to come by. Especially after the sale of David Johnson to Ipswich Town.

When defensive rock Paul Butler was sold to Sunderland in the 1998 close season the writing was on the wall. A change in manager brought Neil Warnock to the club. Despite an herculean effort from the players Bury's lack of goals told against them and at the end of the 1998-99 season they were relegated on the goals scored rule.

The following season Warnock left to join Sheffield United and so Andy Preece was given the post of player- manager and the task of turning things around once more.