The Forgotten Fifteen

How Bury triumphed in British football's worst year

Terry Pashley in Poulton-le-Fylde.

Terry Pashley

There are better places to be when you’re slightly hungover than a packed train heading to the Lancashire coast on the first day of a school half-term holiday. But it was this situation I found myself in as I made my way to see Terry Pashley.

Terry had been simple to find. He still worked in the game, on the coaching staff at Burnley, and it was the receptionist at Turf Moor who passed on a message asking if he’d be willing to talk about the season. He did, so we arranged to meet at Blackpool North on the first day of the Bank Holiday weekend.

I boarded the train at Manchester Airport and bagged a table seat with a precious power point. They’re a commodity that anyone else with a smartphone knows is vital. If you want to fiddle with your mobile across the course of the journey and still have enough power to do anything vaguely useful with it later in the same day, that is. I could stretch out and read the paper as the train sped through the suburbs of south Manchester, but there’d be no such hope once it pulled away from platform 14 at Piccadilly.

All human life got on at Manchester’s main station with the aim of fresh air and fun in the famous seaside place. It was standing room only by the time we reached Salford Central. With Bolton and Preston still to come on the route, there wasn’t a hope of a trolley service making it down the aisle. The hangover-healing power of an ice cold 500ml bottle of Coca Cola would be sadly lacking from the trip.

After the customary first sighting of the tower coming somewhere between Poulton-le-Fylde and Layton, the train pulled slowly into its destination. Excitable children waited impatiently for the doors to open but I hung back. As such, I was one of the last passengers to alight as I joined the winding, snaking queue at the ticket inspection barrier. I held up my proof that I’d paid my fare and saw Terry waiting for me on the other side. He was instantly recognisable and looked almost unchanged from his last Bury pen-picture, taken more than 20 years ago.

It was especially affirming to hear him say how he considered the football he played at Bury to have been the best of his career

He greeted me with a firm handshake and we walked to his car before deciding where to conduct the interview. As we headed away from the bright lights, the smell of chips and the squawking of seagulls, I told Terry about the project’s aims. The man who spent his entire professional career at clubs whose name began with B – Burnley, Blackpool and Bury – listened to my oddly nervous babbling as we drove back in the direction of Poulton-le-Fylde.

We settled on a noisy cafe in the genteel Wyre market town. The interview was a relatively short one in relation to some that had gone before and certainly some that would come after, but it was nice to hear Terry’s point of view. It was especially affirming to hear him say how he considered the football he played at Bury to have been the best of his career.

We said our goodbyes as the bass drum for the brass band leading the Poulton Gala was warming up and the crowds began lining the street. As they began their tiddly-om-pom-pom, I was walking back to the station, missing the only train back to Manchester that hour by three minutes. The wait would provide ample time to wonder what interviews numbers eight and nine, due to take place on the following Monday with Kevin Young in Durham and John Bramhall in Manchester, would be like.