It’s amazing, the road to Heywood sports centre was clear for a change, with shiny new tarmac. As I approached, I could hear the faint sounds of the Eye of the Tiger Rocky Theme being played in someone’s car. That about summed up the mood of the Bury Relic players and supporters, for the final set of fixture had come around that could bring glory once again to the mighty Relics. Like last week with the over 60s, a single goal was the difference, but this time it was not about relegation but winning the division 1 title. The Relics were in 2nd place behind Manchester Corinthians. The Relics players, management and supporters all knew that only a perfect set of results and a high quality performance could deliver them the title. This was no easy task and first up were Salcom 65’s.
Bury Relics vs. Salcom 65’s. The opening fixture started off very well for the Relics, with John W quickly intercepted a flaky Salcom pass and tried his luck from several yards outside the area; the hard shot just whistled wide. Similarly, another interception, this time from Graham, also produced another good shot, but again was just wide of the target. From the resulting throw out by the keeper came the Relics first goal. It was a throw out far too close to Jomo, who quickly intercepted and rifled a shot back across the helpless keeper and into the net for 1 – 0 to the Relics. That certainly calmed the nerves; the Relics were playing good football, solid at the back with Tex and Bob. The next trigonometry set of passing by the Relics led to a Graham opportunity but his shot was saved by the keeper. The subsequent Salcom possession led to several passes, culminating in a shot that was wide of the target and nothing for Gaz to worry about. The Relics were in a passing rhythm now, like a metronome, and this created a chance for John W to have a shot but it was not accurate or powerful enough to really trouble the Salcom keeper. Following yet another Relics move, Bob was played in to be one on one, with only the keeper to beat; his low and hard shot shook the right hand post and catapulted the ball right across to the other side of the pitch. Although the ball was retrieved by Bob to keep the move alive, a goal did not materialize. Salcom tried again to make inroads to the Relics defence, but this was rebuffed by a stout and exquisite interception by Tex. Then, after several passes from John W and Jomo, the ball reached the feet of Graham, who held it up and waited to play a good ball to Jomo’s feet, who was now in an advanced position. A very tight turn and sidestep took Jomo away for the Salcom defender, where he thrashed the ball past the keeper to make it 2 – 0 to the Relics; it was a phenomenal all round team goal. Further play from both sides did not lead to any other significant action.
Final Score, Relics 2 – Salcom 0.
Bury Relics vs. Rochdale AFC Strollers. There were a few twists and turns in this game and the game started tense, with both sides trying to get some passing moves going. The first chance fell to Graham, who did a sharp turn but his shot was saved by the pink keeper. Rochdale fought back and had a half chance of their own but it was good clearing up at the back from Pete. Both teams were picking up the odd offence for running and contact, but not up to 4 fouls as yet. The Relics were starting to make a good footballing picture by fitting good passing moves together, this was evident by the cute back heel from Graham that put Jomo in a shooting position, but their keeper again made a save. The next chance fell to a hard working John W but the shot just rose over the bar. In the following passage of play, Rochdale committed another foul and it was a 4-foul penalty to the Relics. After Jomo’s successful spot kick last week, he decided to take the responsibility again. This time he did a perfect one step penalty, only to be denied by a save that defied the laws of physics. It was a good penalty but equally a good save, and it was still a nervous 0 – 0 score-line. Rochdale then went on the attack and won a free-kick just outside the area. This led to a decent shot and good save by Gaz, to keep the Relics hopes alive. The next Relics move saw good play from John W, setting up Jomo with a shot that clipped the right hand post (very close). The subsequent Relics attack saw Graham set up a Tex for a shot, but no joy again. Rochdale were now trying to assert themselves, pressing the Relics high up the pitch and trying to make openings to score, but a terrific interception and long pass put Graham clean through. He had a lot of distance to make up to the ball; he glided across the AstroTurf at high walking speed to get to the ball and fire a great finish passed a stunned Rochdale keeper. What a glorious goal to keep the Relics in the championship hunt! Not long after, the final whistle went to confirm the Relics victory.
Final Score, Relics 1 – Rochdale 0.
Bury Relics vs. Manchester Senior Citizens 65s. Bury played an excellent game here with precise and crisp passing and some great goals. The first started from a Bob tackle, where the ball was passed around to John W, who found Jomo in space, who then fed the ball to Graham. He took a composed, hard shot past the city keeper, to make it 1 – 0 to the Relics. City were doing some good passing moves now but were not putting pressure on the Relics goal. An interception by the Relics led to a multiple pass move that ended with John W in space to the left of the goal; he fired a cracking shot over the keepers shoulder and into the net for 2 – 0 to the Relics. Great stuff. In the next Relics attacks, Graham got into his groove by twice receiving the ball, with his back to goal, swivelling and shooting. Neither led to a goal but the second was hard, high and over, which smashed the fence so hard, it scared the birds away. A bit of a tussle was developing in midfield and as the ball was hit to the left, Bob was favourite to gain possession. However, Bob was completely cleaned out by a sliding tackle that started 10 yards away. The ref was quick to hand out a Blue card, seeing the City player leave the pitch. Relics made the extra man count by passing around the team, which put Jomo through, only to see his shot saved. Again, Relics created another chance, this time for John W, who shot just wide while through on goal. The game was in its last ebbs, when a chance was created for Bob, who took a left foot shot, that looked like he stubbed his toe, and unfortunately did not trouble City’s keeper. It caused Bob more trouble as he was now in a bit of discomfort. The game ended 2 – 0 to the Relics and the dream of glory was still alive.
Final Score, Relics 2 – Senior Citizens 0.
Bury Relics vs. Manchester Corinthians 65’s. Well it came down to the final game to decide this seasons division 1 champions; it was a game of winner takes all. It almost started with complete disaster for the Relics, as a stray pass across the back was intercepted by a Corinthians player and he took a good shot that was equalled by Gaz in goal. Following the next passage of play, the ball went out of play and Bob was injured and replaced by Pete Shev. As you will expect from 2 good teams, both were passing around well and good play from Tex led to a Relics corner. The ball was then passed to Graham, who steadied himself, and performed an intricate turn to find space and shoot just wide of the target; you could hear the crowd saying “that was a close one”. Both sides were passing well but not finding the killer pass for end product. John W was playing well managing the game by keeping the ball off the Corinthians midfield, as at this point, a draw was good enough to be champions. Possession was still changing hands, until Graham again received the ball up front; with almost a carbon copy of the turn he did earlier, he tried again and as before, it was very close but keeper just saved it to make a corner. Then came the moment of glory for the Corinthians; a ball was passed from the Corinthian defence up to the Corinthians attacker, that bounced just in front of him with his back to goal. As the ball reached him, he swivelled and took a first time speculative hard shot that shocked everyone! It arrowed onto the left hand post, then across to the right hand post, before bouncing into the net; I could almost hear a commentator shouting “aaa-Ray-oooooooo!”. It was the Corinthians Man City Agüero moment, as that goal had sealed the league for them. The Relics toiled hard to get an equalizer but ran out of time and it was not to be.
Final Score, Relics 0 – Corinthians 1.
Thank you to a committed and brave team performance by all the players, which was backed up by the staff and expertly led by Ken the manager. Proud to be a Relic supporter, was a great effort. The match day squad: Gaz S (GK), Bob, Tex, Graham W, Pete Shev, John W, John M (Jomo) and Keith H.
A special thank you to the great pictures from Kodak Keith and brews by McJonalds, and to all the enthusiastic supporters that turned out to witness a valiant Bury Relics effort. For all the GMWFL Autumn 2021 results and fixtures see the Match Centre page here