Year in review 2012: Bury – Rollercoaster year as Kevin Blackwell targets Shakers’ League One survival

By Suraj Radia & Mark Shales

It’s fair to say that Bury have had a rollercoaster of a year, finishing last season in mid-table before flirting with League One relegation in this campaign under their third manager of the year.

And with 2013 on the horizon, MM has compiled a month-by-month review of one of the most eventful years in the club’s recent history.


Bury started 2012 in the top half of League One after a successful festive period, but the New Year brought with it a mixed bag of results.

Peter Sweeney’s free kick – voted Bury’s goal of the season – gave the Shakers three points at home to Walsall, before following it up two weeks later with a win over Yeovil Town at Gigg Lane.

However the Shakers suffered 3-0 losses to Sheffield United – the highest attended home game of the season – and Rochdale.

Despite the arrivals of Southampton forward Ryan Doble and Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Giles Coke at Gigg Lane on season-long loans, a 1-1 draw away at Charlton Athletic saw Bury finish the month back down in tenth place.


A torrid month saw Bury sink down to 14th in the league after picking up just two points in February, only managing to score six times.

A late strike from captain Steve Schumacher salvaged a 1-1 Valentine’s day draw at home to Chesterfield, while teenager Lateef Elford-Alliyu, on loan from West Bromwich Albion, managed the same feat when Leyton Orient came to visit.

But losses to Exeter City, MK Dons and Hartlepool United meant the Shakers suffered their worst month since September 2011, conceding ten times.


Things got worse for the Shakers over their next seven games, Bury only managing to pick up five points.

Three consecutive 4-1 losses to Sheffield Wednesday, Carlisle United and Wycombe Wanderers gave the club their worst run of results for a number of years.   

Draws to Huddersfield Town, Scunthorpe United and Preston North End and a 2-0 victory over Tranmere Rovers failed to resurrect the month as Richie Barker’s men reached April just five points above the relegation zone.


Despite a 3-0 hammering away at Stevenage and a goalless draw at home to Oldham Athletic, the Shakers enjoyed their joint-best run of the season with back-to-back wins over Colchester United, Bournemouth and Notts County to finish just 14 points of a play-off spot.

The Shakers ended their 16 game winless run in style with an emphatic 4-1 victory at home to Colchester – a club that had lost only one of their previous nine games.

Six days later Mike Grella’s tenth minute strike was enough to see of Bournemouth, before the American put two past Notts County.

The Shakers produced arguably their performance of the season to win 4-2 against a side that only missed out on the play-offs through goal difference. 


Bury ended the 2011/2012 season with a miserable 3-0 loss at Stevenage, finishing 14th on their return to League One with 56 points. The Shakers won 14 of their 46 games, drawing 11times and losing 20, finishing 17 points behind fellow-promoted club Stevenage.

However unlike Chesterfield they survived their first season and look to build on the foundations in the 2012/12 season.

Trevor Carson had two successful loan spells at the club and a permanent deal was completed for the Sunderland keeper.


While the players and staff enjoyed some time-off after a stressful first season back in the third division of English football, Gigg Lane enjoyed a quiet month on all fronts.

Defender Mark Hughes became the only new face, when he arrived at the club on a free transfer from defunct Australian outfit North Queensland Fury.

The former Everton graduate enjoyed years with Northampton and Walsall before spending a season down under, returning to his native North West after The Fury suffered financial problems.  


In the off-season, Bury remained fairly quiet, playing only three friendlies and signing a trio of players to bulk up their side ahead of the League One campaign.

Barker snapped up free agents Adam Lockwood, Marcus Marshall and former loanee Lateef Elford-Alliyu while Patrick Cregg and short term signing Mike Grella both left the club for St Johnstone and Scunthorpe United respectively.

The Shakers won two friendlies away from home, beating Radcliffe Borough 6-1 and Morcambe 1-0 but lost 1-0 at home to Burnley while their game with Wigan was called off.


August began with Barker departing the Shakers for Crawley Town leaving Bury looking for a new manager with just days until the season’s kick-off.

Barker’s assistant, Peter Shirtliff, was appointed as caretaker manager to see Bury through the start of the season but began his tenure with a 2-1 home defeat to Championship side Middlesbrough in the League Cup first round.

Shirtliff signed Mark Cullen on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, winger Craig Jones from The New Saints, Northern Irish forward David Healy and Leicester City midfielder Shane Byrne as he looked to strengthen his squad.

But Bury ended August without a win in their first three league games, drawing to Brentford and Coventry and losing at Doncaster.


The poor form continued into September as Bury only picked up one point in five games under Shirtliff before he was replaced by former Leeds United boss Kevin Blackwell on September 29.

Blackwell’s new side secured a draw at Stevenage in his first game in charge but Bury found themselves bottom of the league going into October with only four points from nine games and three points off safety.

Leicester striker Tom Hopper joined on loan to replace last season’s top scorer Andy Bishop who joined Wrexham on loan after admitting he was lacking confidence in himself.


Under Blackwell, Bury’s form slowly improved despite three losses in four games against Swindon Town, Crawley Town and Yeovil Town.

The 1-0 loss to Swindon was Blackwell’s first game as manager and the manager grabbed the headlines after brandishing some members of his squad as ‘garbage’.

Bury progressed to the third round of the Northern Section of the Football League Trophy after defeating Rochdale on penalties before picking up their first league win of the season at their 14th attempt in a 2-1 win over bottom club Hartlepool.

Blackwell added on-loan Wolves defender Matt Doherty to his ranks along with Leeds duo Zac Thompson and Dominic Poleon and QPR striker Troy Hewitt.


In a stark contrast to the way their season had gone so far, Bury proved to be one of the form teams of the month, losing only once in the whole of November.

After beating Exeter in the FA Cup first round, Blackwell’s side won away at Oldham Athletic and at home to Portsmouth before falling to defeat at Colchester.

Despite beating Scunthorpe and conceding a last minute equaliser to Bournemouth, goal difference kept the Shakers in the drop zone.

Seb Carole and Tom Soares joined on non-contract terms while Ethan Ebanks-Landell and Gregg Wylde signed on loan from Wolves and Bolton Wanderers respectively.


December has proven to be an eventful month for Bury with the festive period providing more gloom than joy for Blackwell and his men.

The Shakers forced a replay against League Two side Southend United in the FA Cup with a 1-1 draw before their Football League Trophy Quarter Final against Preston North End was postponed.

Bury ended up losing both on penalties and matters were worsened with defeats in the league to Leyton Orient and Crewe Alexandra.

However, the biggest news of the month proved to be off the pitch with the club being placed under a transfer embargo after taking out a short-term loan from the Professional Footballers’ Association, to be paid back in mid-January.

With three games still to be played before the turn of the year, Bury will be hoping to end a topsy-turvy 12 months on a high and perhaps finally drag themselves out of the relegation zone.

Image courtesy of Bury FC, via YouTube, with thanks

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