Like Mel, commenting in the Bury vs Sunderland Guess the Score competition (have a go whoever you support), I was at Roker Park on Boxing Day 1962 when an accidental collision with Bury’s keeper Chris Harker effectively ended Brian Clough’s career. King Charlie missed a penalty, we lost 1-0 and a fluke winner for Chelsea in the final game of the season cost us promotion. I was not there when a 5-2 win won us promotion many years later. Neil Davis is too young to have been there in the 1960s but remembers the other game as the best defeat he’s experienced … read of for some great thoughts from a solid fan of a proper club …
What were your feelings when you came out of the hat against us in the league cup?
Neil Davis: absolutely delighted with the draw when it came out. We’ve drawn the biggest club we could have at this stage and a club that I have a major soft spot for.
You gave us a fright in our first pre-season friendly, two up before we came back to win. Were you there and what was the response of your fans to your performance and ours?
Decent game that basically backed up my thoughts on the two clubs’ prospects this season. I think we’ll be aiming for top six in our league and I think you’ll have a good season too. You have a good manager and players that looked so poor last season may well be a cut above in the Championship.
Last season you finished just a point clear of the relegation zone. What realistic hopes for this season and can Bury mount a serious challenge in the foreseeable future for a return to the second tier?
We have brought in 14 players most of whom are proven in League One so the minimum expectation from most fans is to be pushing for the play-offs this time around.
The obvious link with Sunderland is Lee Clark though Paul Butler from the same era was an important part of Peter Reid’s team. Thoughts on Clark as your boss and Butler, if you’re old enough to remember, as a player? Any other past links ring a bell?
I really like Lee Clark and think we will definitely move forward under him, he has a really good honest way of speaking that most Bury fans will like after the David Brent style of his predecessor Dave Flitcroft. Paul Butler will always be a legend in my eyes a fantastic player for us in the best team we have had in the past 30 years plus. Also on the night you got promoted at Gigg he came to the Bury fans first to thank us maybe a small gesture but a top class one in my eyes.
Who in your squad could make the difference for Bury’s season and where do you seriously need strengthening?
Despite all the good signings we have made this summer the key man for me could be Callum Styles a 17 year old that we took from Burnley’s youth team. He is the best young player I have seen in my 28 years of supporting Bury and that list includes players like David Nugent and Colin Kazim-Richards. Remember the name!
What have been your own best moments as a Shakers fan?
Back to back promotions under Stan Ternent in the mid 90s – Stan built an incredible team that went up to the Championship and stayed there in our first season.
And the worst?
Nearly going bust several times in the early noughties… The late much missed Neville Neville literally stopped the club from going bust with a wonderful array of quirky ideas ably assisted by other magnificent staff at the club at the time.
Best players you have seen in your blue and white?
The legendary David Adekola is the favourite of all Bury fans of my era – 12 goals in 35 games for a Nigerian International striker (who wasn’t) makes him the cult hero of all cult hero’s!
And who should have been allowed nowhere Gigg Lane?
That’s a long list… In terms of attitude and application Nigel Jemson is one of my least favourite Shakers of all time
What do think of Sunderland – the club, fans, city and region, Simon Grayson? Were you there when we clinched promotion under Reidy?
Loads of time for your club (didn’t like the way you dealt with the Adam Johnson situation) but other than that have nothing but fond feelings for you – The way you took little Bradley Lowery to your hearts was magnificent – The way you support your club through dark times is outstanding and the night you got promoted at Gigg was a brilliant night with an amazing atmosphere and is easily my favourite Bury defeat ever.
What should we expect from James Vaughan and do you believe he has it in him to succeed at higher levels ?
He was exceptional for us last season and was a real class act on and off the pitch. Bearing in mind he scored 24 goals in a team that finished just above relegation I think he’ll do well for you and see him being a perfect super sub (at worst) for you.
Will we find the Championship too hard a nut to crack at the first attempt? I’ll be surprised if you don’t finish top 6 you have a good proven manager and if you do well the Stadium will be very intimidating for lots of teams.
And League One: describe the standard our football and the extent to which the cheating of the Premier League affects your division?
League One last year was really poor which made it all the more frustrating that we underachieved so massively. Sheff U were very good but other than that that 15-18 clubs were all very much of a muchness and I think it may be similar this season. The only real Prem impact is loanees and we’ve benefited from the likes of Kaspar Schnmeichel in the past so I have no issue with us being a learning ground for young players in all fairness.
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Team: Pete Sixsmith’s great new series looks at Bury …
I imagine you suffer from the lure of the big clubs nearby, How much pride in the local side do you come across.
We have several of the biggest clubs in Europe within an hour of us so yes its tough but our fans are among the most loyal around IMO and its thanks to the efforts of the fans that we still have a club to support.
Hand on heart, where will you finish this season? And us?
I think we’ll start slowly then finish 5th I think you will finish 5th or 6th
Will you be at the game and what will be the score?
100 per cent. I think it could be a good game I’m going to say 4-3 either way!
* Neil Davis on himself. So I’m a 40-year-old call centre manager who has followed Bury since 1990-91. I miss very few home games and generally get to at least 10-12 away games per season too. I’m part of the fans committee that’s recently been formed by the club and we are hoping to do what we can to make our Theatre of Dreams an even better place to spend your time.
Interview: Colin Randall