It had been a few months since I last visited a new stadium. So with Bolton and Wigan both playing away from home, we decided that we were going to watch Preston v Middlesbrough. Unfortunately there had been an accident on the motorway between Bolton and Preston, and there were queues of 20 miles. So we took the decision to make the very short journey up to Bury.
We arrived at Gigg Lane early. So we decided to stay in the car and listen to the delightful souls on BBC GMR – Or BBC Manchester as it is now called. The voices of Jack Dearden, Ian Cheeseman and Fred Eyre always seem to remind me of depressing days at The Reebok.
After a while we went to the ticket office and bought our tickets. We again went for the cheap option and sat in ‘The Main Stand’. The tickets cost around £10 each with the Family Ticket offer Bury run.
Now, there seems to be a recurring theme when I buy football programmes from vendors in the North-West. They always seem to be eating a burger or a hot dog. This character was obviously a burger fan. I bought my programme for £3 and was highly disappointed! The programmes that season were made to celebrate the clubs 125 years of existance, and they looked truly horrific.
We were one of the first into the ground, and it was unreserved seating… so we were spoilt for choice really, I had never had this luxury before! The Main Stand offered a relatively good view of the playing area, with just a few pillars which could be a nuisance, but nothing too catastrophic.
Opposite was The South Stand, now named The Les Hart Stand. This as I have later found out is the coldest stand in the ground and offers another relatively good view of the pitch.
The away fans were situated to the right, in The West Stand. The West Stand has a concrete trench between the seating and the pitch, meaning away supporters who are on the front row are often left looking up at the field of play.
To our right was the Cemetery End. Constrcuted in 1999 it is the most modern stand at Gigg Lane, and is where the more vocal of the Bury fans congregate.
Before the game kicked off, I had chance to Gigg Lanes’ award-winning toilet facilities. Complete with a breeze block exterior and breeze block interior. You could relieve yourself on a wall, and see it trickle out of a pipe which led outside. I couldn’t wash my hands, as there were no taps.
Not to worry! I could still buy an overpriced pie on the way back to my seat! £3.50 they cost at Gigg Lane. (I found out at a later game that the pies are the best in the football league – to date… in my opinion).
The game kicked off, and the sun came out (The original lyrics to The Wanted – Glad You Came) Bury and Rotherham were both doing well in League 2, and it was obvious why. Both teams had attacking flare, with Adam Le Fondre up front for Rotherham and Ryan Lowe for Bury. Kevin Ellison broke the deadlock for Rotherham on 45 minutes with an inswinging cross that crept into the far corner.
In the second half, Bury came out fighting. Ryan Lowe equalised for The Shakers with a 12-yard strike straight from the kick off. Bury were later awarded a penalty, but Andy Warrington saved Stephen Dawsons’ spot kick. Bury then took all 3 points when Richie Baker came on as a substitute and scored past Warrington.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day to Gigg Lane, and I have been visiting it regularly since.