It has been a long year for Bury FC fans following their club’s expulsion from the Football League.
On August 28, 2019, Shakers supporters awoke to the news that their beloved club had become the first to be thrown out of the Football League since 1992.
The dramatic expulsion came after the club’s owner, Steve Dale, failed to provide financial guarantees to the EFL.
When a late takeover bid collapsed, the EFL finally pulled the plug.
The anger, grief and despair felt by the club’s loyal fanbase was evident as the nation’s media descended on the club’s home of more than 130 years.
Grown men decked out in club colours broke down in tears as they tried to articulate their anger and disbelief at the news that had broke late the night before.
Many likened it to losing a close friend or loved one.
The footage from that day captures a community in shock, its heart ripped from its chest overnight.
The ripple effect was felt throughout Bury, with pubs, takeaways and shops among those to feel the impact of the Shakers’ loss.
Former Bury North MP, James Frith, even went as far as saying the town faced an ‘identity crisis’ in the wake of what happened.
One year on, plenty has changed in the world but not at Gigg Lane.
The old ground stands eerily still, the signs of neglect beginning to creep in.
The tributes adorning the railings at the front of the stadium have been faded by the weather, while the turnstiles have collected a thick layer of dust and dirt.
It is 15 months since a competitive football game was staged here.
Nowadays, the only real activity at Gigg Lane is the growling of engines coming from the motorbike training school which operates on the stadium’s vast car park.
Occasionally, the club’s former groundsman, Mike Curtis, is said to show up to the mow the pitch.
That is despite there being no prospect of it hosting a match any time soon.
Bury FC still exists, though, if only on paper. With no players, no league to play in, and no employees to speak of, it is little more than a hollow shell of the club fans knew and loved.
There is hope, however.
Supporters have managed to rally and form a new club, Bury AFC, with the aim of bringing football back to the town.
Within weeks of the club being booted out of the EFL, hundreds had signed up to work on the phoenix project as volunteers.
One of those was Chris Murray, now the chairman of Bury AFC.
Murray, whose day job is as a director at a digital marketing company, still feels frustration at what was allowed to happened to Bury FC.
But he believes the last year has brought fans together.
He explained that he initially became involved with the idea of a…