Football will finally return to Gigg Lane for the first time in nearly three years. The famous ground has lay empty since Bury FC, founded in 1885, were thrown out of the Football League in August 2019.
But the club’s Women’s team, who are flying high this season and chasing promotion, will grace the pitch with their final three home games. By a twist of fate the last game to be played on Shaker’s hallowed turf also featured the Women’s team.
The ground has been spruced up by an army of volunteers and the surface will be in pristine condition for the Bury FC Foundation Women’s Team match against Fleetwood Town Wrens on April 24th. The historic match will be the first on the turf since the women’s team played Workington Town Ladies on May 5th 2019.
READMORE: As Bury FC collapsed the ladies played on – now the women’s Shakers are on the rise
Two and a half years on since Bury FC lost its league status the club name, memorabilia, and historic ground have been bought by a fans group, who have a target of the 2022/23 season for bringing men’s football back to Gigg Lane. But women’s team is on the cusp of a renaissance which is progressing faster.
They now sit second in the Championship of the Lancashire FA Women’s County League, having scored 108 goals and conceded just 22. They are three points behind the leaders but have a game in hand. It is four leagues below where they were in 2019. But after a season disjointed by COVID last year they are finally firing. Talks are ongoing but it is hoped a crowd of just under 500 will be allowed into the ground for the women’s games.
In a statement the team said: “Following discussions between Bury Football Club Women, Bury Football Club Supporters Society and Gigg Lane Stadium we can confirm that a deal has been agreed for the Womens team to play their final three games of the 2021/2022 season at Gigg Lane.”
In a visionary move Bury Girls & Ladies Football Club started in the summer of 1996 with one team. The current first team are at the pinnacle of a raft of teams of different age groups who play under the Foundation’s banner.
They have six games remaining. Their top scorer Kimberley Tyson with 35 goals in 14 appearances, has just been nominated for Non-League Best Womens Footballer Tier 5 below in the nlbible awards 2022. You can vote here: https://nonleaguebible.weebly.com/nlbible-awards .html. Sophie Coates has scored 27 goals in eight games and Anna Keeling has ten goals and 15 assists in 13 games
Diana Golding, Chairperson and Welfare Officer said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase our club and return the Women’s First Team to the stadium where they had great success in 2019. The players are very excited and we are sure this will give them the extra push to go on and win the league and promotion”.
Colin Platt, Bury FC Women First Team Manager said: “Having Bury FC Women returning to play on Gigg Lane after a few years away is a fantastic opportunity for our club and the women’s team. We are currently experiencing a fantastic season of football and this opportunity will only help us in the final months of the season. Myself, Luke Haughey (Head Coach) and the players are thrilled to have this opportunity to play at Gigg Lane and to represent the Club and the Bury community.”
Daniel Bowerbank, Operations Director Gigg Lane added: “It is great that we have come to an agreement with Bury FC Women, they used to play some of their home games at Gigg Lane prior to May 2019. When we officially got the stadium back it was one agreement we needed to complete as soon as possible. We are in talks with the council to look at a reduced capacity of the stadium to allow supporters into the stadium to watch their remaining fixtures, any announcements will be made as soon as possible.”
The team’s two other fixtures are against Barrowford Celtic on May 8th, and Clitheroe Wolves, on May 15th. Bury FC Women are sponsored by PPSL District Heating Ltd There are sponsorships available for next season by contacting [email protected]
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.