The Forgotten Fifteen

How Bury triumphed in British football's worst year

In 1985, Bury were promoted from Division Four. Player-manager Martin Dobson achieved this feat using only 15 players all season who played what is generally regarded to be some of the best football a Bury side has ever played.

In the years that have passed, the club has done nothing to commemorate Dobson's accomplishment. It occurred to Bury fan James Bentley that the squad had disappeared behind the mists of time for several reasons.

Firstly, British football was in a dreadful state in 1985. Hooligans rampaged through dilapidated stadiums and towns up and down the country on what seemed like a weekly basis. The conditions that football supporters were herded into were compounded in one dreadful month for the national sport as, in May 1985, 96 football fans died as a result of tragedies at three matches in Bradford, Birmingham and at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels.

But alongside this, the country as a whole seemed to be rocked by a massive sense of disharmony too. The miners' strike tore communities apart, leaving rifts that would never heal. In Brighton, the IRA almost succeeded in assassinating a British head of state. Closer to home, nine people died in a house fire in Bury on Christmas morning 1984. Disasters which claimed dozens of lives seemed to dominate the news headlines every day.

So, James set out to find those 15 players who got Bury promoted and to tell not only their story but the story of the season, and the country, as a whole at that time. It was a frustrating, rewarding and fulfilling search and this website describes how he found each of the players who helped Bury triumph in British football's worst year.