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Bury: Bringing Football Back

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As you all may remember Bury FC was one of the longest-serving football league clubs in the country but fell into financial difficulty and in September 2019 they were terminated from the EFL ultimately folding as a club. This documentary created by the BBC gave viewers “complete access for 12 months” on their journey from being expelled by the football league to then the resurrection of the phoenix club Bury AFC.

This documentary places you in the position of being a Bury fan where you are brought through and witness all the heartache and pain that thousands of loyal fans had to go through. You see almost everything with plenty of access to the chairman of the AFC club so much so that you see him turn up to their first game in a beaten-up old car almost showing the huge difference in wealth within the game, adding to the fact all the players were playing to put a roof over their head with it being during covid adding to the pressure.

An emotional rollercoaster takes you through all the twists and turns to show you the positive and the good times of being a Bury fan when they were playing at the top and then seeing their decline putting into perspective how quickly things can change in football. The owner at the time Steve Dale didn’t even know there was a football club in Bury, so straight away he is ‘the bad guy’ in the narrative, it almost seemed unthinkable that the owner of Bury didn’t even know about the club, it was destined to fail. Similarly, clubs with similar owners and similar situations looked at Bury and feared for themselves for example with Macclesfield town.

Throughout the documentary, we were brought up right into the dugout during the games so you felt a that you were almost there whilst feeling the emotion from the bench and coaching staff. Also being a ‘fly on the wall’ during the recruitment process when looking for a suitor for the manager vacancy, having that much access to that sort of process was an eye opener although some may say it’s not at the highest level you still got a sense of the exclusivity of the footage you were seeing which you wouldn’t be able to get access from many other teams for. As well as being positioned as a fan ourselves there were also many interviews and clips from the fans where they’d be venting their frustration over the previous ownership and also somewhere they’d question the idea of creating the phoenix club due to their sentiment to Bury FC which you can’t blame them for.

Eventually when the phoenix club was created, ‘Bury AFC’ there seemed to be a lot of optimism among the supporters even though they would have to start in the 10th tier of the game but for the fans, it was better than nothing. Their first competitive game ended in defeat however we were shown many happy fans who were just excited that they had a local club to go and support again as for many it meant everything to them. You even heard from players who were proud to be playing for the club due to the history of the original team and how that ended so they all wanted to do well for the city of Bury.

Overall I think this documentary is a real eye-opener, especially to fans of the ‘big six clubs’ to show how fragile a club’s status in the English game can be and how it all changes so quickly with the wrong people in charge. It was a documentary that evoked many emotions throughout which were mirrored by devasted fans as they learned their team was expelled from the EFL. As a viewer, we were given a great amount of access to the behind-the-scenes during the creation of the phoenix club so much so we were in the room during the manager’s interview for the job. It was also very authentic as it progressed in a chronological way which allowed you to judge the situations as they were unfolding. All in all a very authentic documentary with a lot of access and behind-the-scenes shown.

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July 2024