The Forgotten Fifteen

How Bury triumphed in British football's worst year

Wayne Entwistle at the family farm in Bury.

Wayne Entwistle

I’ve known Wayne Entwistle for years, since my age was a single digit number. When I was a child, my mum, dad and I would go to Sunday morning services at All Saints church in Elton. Wayne started attending at around the same time as us and I was fascinated when my dad told me that he played for Bury at the same time as my uncle, Brian Williams. Any success that would follow in his second spell at the club, that encompassed 1984/85, wasn’t even mentioned.

The striker, who had perhaps the best season of his career as Bury climbed out of the Fourth Division that year, was making the move into his cooked meat business at the time. It would bring him recognition all over again as he and his branded van became a familiar sight around the town. But he also spotted a gap in the market: the post-Eucharist cooked meat stall.

No sooner had Reverend Nick Carter sent us on our way, telling us to go in peace and serve the Lord, Wayne was enlisting my help to transfer stock from the van to the church hall. There, he’d sell ham and beef and chicken to the congregation who’d gone for a coffee and a chat after the service. It was the only social life that some of the lovely old dears had all week, and as it wound down, we’d make the return journey and refill the van. My payment for the first step on a career ladder in fresh food, which would conclude with a job stacking shelves in the chilled section at Asda Bury, was a pork pie every week.

I’d also got used to seeing Wayne around Bury town centre on Saturday nights when out for a few drinks after games. Writing was the furthest from my mind in those days as I adjusted to losing my job, but I always kept a mental note that he was an intelligent player. If I could think of a project, any project, it would include Wayne in some way.

He revealed how he was introduced to new training techniques which revolutionised his game and how... he had the season of his life

Fortunately, the man I’d known for so long was a key member of the squad in the season I’d decided to concentrate on. His phone number had remained locked into my SIM card so the interview was arranged for a mutually-convenient pub. However, after a long day at work, we swapped the venue at the last minute to an iconic symbol for anyone who grew up in Brandlesholme as I did; the Entwistle’s family farm on Woodhill Road.

We spent two hours in the front room of the farm house as Wayne told me with remarkable candidness the story of his individual 1984/85. He revealed how he was introduced to new training techniques which revolutionised his game and how, for those glorious nine months as the rest of the game was in turmoil, he had the season of his life.

Wayne moved around a lot in his career as he took in spells at Crewe, Wimbledon, Sunderland and Leeds amongst others. But Bury was always home and it’s fitting that it was back at Gigg Lane, the ground where he watched the game as a boy, that it all came good. It was a privilege to hear him speak.