The penultimate set of fixtures for the over 65’s top division in the GMWFL had arrived and Bury Relics were currently in 2nd place, seven points behind leaders Kingsmaid. Only a perfect set of results for Bury and a freak series of losses for Kingsmaid, will enable Bury to take top spot. Due to injury and a funeral, several key players were absent and a makeshift team had been assembled. Two players were making their debut, Ken B and David L, and Steady Teddy Eddy had had his goalkeeper gloves surgically removed before kick-off, so that he could be a stand-in striker. Ian from the over 60’s had also been drafted in. The ever-ready Pat the cat assured me that he had his superman cape and Bury Relics kit under his tracksuit, just in case he was needed. To set the scene, Heywood was under a deluge of rain. Despite that, plenty of Bury supporters had turned up, sporting umbrellas. One lady had a particularly smooth brolly, which had brightly coloured pictures of Giraffes printed on it. To the football; Bury had a rest for the first game and watched Ray’s Preston play Rochdale, in an entertaining game, where 2 goals were scored in the first minutes of play and two players were blue carded not long after. The first fixture for Bury was against Manchester Corinthians.
Bury Relics vs. Manchester Corinthians
The initial line up for the Relics: Gaz in goal, Dave L and captain Tex in defence, Alan and Ian in midfield with Fast Ken B in attack. The best of the action in this game was 2 very good saves by Gaz in goal. One was from a well-constructed move by Corinthians, who got a shot away and Gaz had to get down sharply to save. And the other save, came from a Bury Relics interception by Ian, but the ball was diverted to the opposite side of the goal to where Gaz was covering, and it was going in. Gaz had to readjust very quickly and produce a cat like dive, to tip the ball around the post and out for a corner. The Corinthians had more possession and were passing the ball with discipline around the team. But Bury were standing firm, with Tex and Dave making interceptions and getting the ball up front. Ken was playing well in attack, having a battle with their centre back, who kept trying to get in front of Ken to intercept passes. On one occasion, Ken gets it perfectly timed and plays a good ball back to an onrushing Alan, but he’s well marked and there’s no opportunity to shoot. Another good move involved Dave, Tex and Alan, who found Ken free on the lefthand side, but his shot was saved. Ian was also presented with a chance late on, being set up by Ken, but the resulting shot was just wide. Corinthians had a bit more possession, passes and shots than Bury but the Relics stood firm and could have scored themselves. A hard-fought draw.
Bury Relics 0 – 0 Manchester Corinthians
Bury Relics vs. Preston
Steady Teddy Eddy was brought into the team to act as target man against Preston, and early on Bury found him, but Eddy was a bit off balance and could not fire his shot effectively. Then followed a series of 8 shots by Preston, who kept Gaz alert in goal; one shot was from a long way out but Gaz made a good save, with Ian clearing up the rebound from the save. Then there was a good move with Ian combing with Eddy for a one-two, with Ian getting a shot fired off but just a whisker wide. That brought a few ooohs from the Bury supporters. Then Steady Teddy Eddy is put through on goal and manages to get good power on his shot, low but unfortunately it went just wide of the post. Then Preston replied with an attack of their own, which produced some good play from Dave L, who was nearly turned inside-out by a Preston players trickery, but he held firm and got the ball safely passed to Tex. Bury then won a free-kick, which was played to the right and Tex, who was advancing towards goal; he hit a thunder-bolt of a shot towards goal but again it was just wide of the post. The result was another drawn game, which Bury came more into, attacking wise, in the latter stages.
Bury Relics 0 – 0 Preston
Bury Relics vs. Kingsmaid
Just prior to kick-off, the rumour was that Kingsmaid had won all their fixtures on the day, and a win against the Relics would hand them the championship. And it was a dreadful start for the Relics, as their #77 striker bulldozed his way through 2 Relics players, to toe-bung the ball past a stranded Gaz. One-nill to Kingsmaid. In the next passage of play, there was an absolute tremendous save by Gaz in goal. Bury were attacking the Kingsmaid goal but a stray pass was intercepted and a Kingsmaid player, and he played to another player for a free shot. He hit it powerfully, but it either took a bobble or a last-ditch tackle/foot from a Relics player, so that the ball was diverted upwards. Gaz, who had already dived, had to quickly throw a hand up to divert the powerful drive over the bar. The crowd purred at the save as it was awesome. Then Bury had a chance of their own as Alan was played clear down the right-hand side but his shot just went wide. In the next passage of play, Bury managed to lose the ball at the back, and a single pass was made to their #77 striker, who turned and scored again, with a rocket to Gaz’s lefthand side. 2-0 to Kingsmaid. Despite that, Bury didn’t give up, and good passing around the team eventually finds Ian on the edge of the Kingsmaid area. He turned sharply and shot, but it was just wide. Then it was Tex’s turn for a shot on Bury’s next attack, this time it was on target and with power, but the keeper makes a really good save to keep Tex and Bury out. The game ended in a 2–0 loss and handed Kingsmaid the title, who celebrated with a team photo in one of the goals. Bury were now playing for runners up.
Bury Relics 0 – 2 Kingsmaid
Bury Relics vs. Rochdale Strollers
An early interception by Dave and a good pass by Tex to Ian, provides Ian with a chance but the Rochdale keeper makes a save with his feet. On the next Bury attack, Tex passes it forward, down the lefthand side to Eddy. He anticipates a run from Ian and plays a perfect pass into his path; Ian meets the ball on the edge of the area and toe-bungs the ball, back across the Rochdale keeper, to score and make it 1-0 to Bury Relics. Ian is soon to have another shot from the subsequent play, but this time the keeper saves. A good passing move around the team and a long ball forward towards Eddy, is nearly delicious but the ball is just too far out of Eddy’s reach. It was a great move, just the weight on the final pass prevented a goal scoring chance. Alan has a good shot just over late on, after Ian had played the ball off to him but it was just over the bar. The rain was hammering it down by now but Bury were in complete control of this game. Rochdale hardly had a touch in the last few minutes, as Bury controlled the play comfortably, to manage the game out and hold on to a deserved 1-0 victory.
Bury Relics 1 – 0 Rochdale Strollers
Summary; To play 4 games in such atrocious and wet conditions took some doing, and the Bury Relics makeshift team did really well. To only lose to the champions and win points from all other fixtures is great; Well done! Hopefully, being now 5 points clear of third place in the table, the Relics can cement their place as runners up next time around. The team consisted of Gaz (GK), Tex (captain), Dave L, Alan B, Ian M, Fast Ken B and Steady Teddy Eddy. Management: Ken 1 and Keith S did a sterling job, organizing and guiding the team. Thanks to the wet supporters, including Keiren, Pat the cat, Nikon Nev and Giraffe Umbrella lady. Report and pics by Dr. John.