Buryball, Chapter 15: Into the Cocked Hatters

“Buryball? Eh?” Confused? Read Chapter 0 for a short precis. You can then find a direct link to each subsequent chapter from there.

FA Cup fever has gripped a small corner of Greater Manchester south Lancashire as 1885 Bury make their first-ever appearance in the ‘proper’ rounds of the most famous domestic cup competition in world football. Can the Shakers overcome fellow National League outfit Woking and get a plum draw away at Stevenage? Let’s find out.

(1885 Bury score first):

Woking (a) <FA Cup 1st Round>: 2-1

The dress rehearsal was a damp squib, but thankfully, the clash in Surrey was anything but. Right-winger Simeon Oure confidentially volleyed in a cross-field pass from Ben Forrest to give me the lead. The latter was then pushed in the back by the brilliantly named Christ Junior Tiéhi on 20 minutes; Kelsey Mooney made no mistake from the penalty. The hosts weren’t able to mount a concerted response until the second half, and goalkeeper Calvin Andrew’s frailties at his near post were once again exposed and exploited by the opposition – Ola Ogumwamide the beneficiary. He did much better from a route one ball to deny Jack Parkinson a barely deserved equaliser. The Surrey side pressed and harried for that breakthrough, but it never came to pass, and the £36.000 prize money will cover the wage budget for a couple of weeks.


Unfortunately, free-spending Billericay Town were able to poach my assistant Anthony Johnson, with my pleas to stay falling on deaf ears.The search for an able replacement began in earnest…

Goodnight, sweet prince…

The second round draw was made, pitting my young charges against 16th-placed Leyton Orient in the tier above. There’s a squeak of a chance of getting through…

24 year-old Lewis Moore agreed to be my assistant; seemingly, his playing career as a goalkeeper for Brentwood was cut short by injury, but he has the pedigree to be a brilliant coach. Maybe he’ll be a bit more loyal because of his age, too!


Dover Athletic (a): 0-1

Sixth versus seventh at the Crabble Stadium, and Rhys Hilton’s chance to impress up top, having wept and brayed until I caved in to give him an opportunity. It was Oure who looked the most likely to notch early on however, hitting the inside of the far post from an Akeem Hinds cross. Benedict Cumberbatch’s nephew Kurtis (Narrator: not really) went close for The Whites with a sighter from distance just before the whistle blew for half-time. The hosts did open the scoring after the restart from a simple header by Mason Rubie, and very little was mustered in response – not a single shot on target all game long, in fact.

Harrogate Town (a):  0-1

Falling out of the play-offs in the aftermath of the last fixture was not what I wanted, and another trip on the road (this time to lowlier opponents) was the chance to make amends. Mooney, restored to the side in place of the hapless Hilton, had a strike chalked off for offside in the early exchanges, but once again, a set piece wasn’t defended brilliantly, allowing Warren Burrell to give the North Yorkshire outfit the advantage. There was a distinct lack of urgency to peg them back, which was beginning to be extremely concerning, and even changing shape wasn’t the remedy I’d hoped.

Barrow (h): 2-0

Luke Jephcott was inadvertently doing his level best to give me some hope, picking up a second yellow card after just eight minutes for the visitors. The under-performing Denilson Carvalho did draw the Shakers first blood from a swift attack down the left, turning in a Dion McGhee square ball across the box. Luke Ward stretched the gap, nodding in at the far post. In the second period, the centre-back had his hopes of a brace dashed by the most marginal of offside calls, but the win was secured.

Leyton Orient (h) <FA Cup 2nd Round>: 1-1

Probably the highest profile game of the short life of the phoenix club to date, and Josh Benson grabbed a goal from central midfield, drilling in from the edge of the area. Parity was restored through the evergreen Lee Angol with 13 minutes on the clock, latching onto a loose ball to crash home. The journeyman striker had the only other presentable chance of the match late on in the second half, smacking the outside of the post. However, a replay will be required, giving both teams the added incentive of seeing who they could face if successful in the third round…

Stockport County (h): 1-0

A big local derby at Pilsworth Park swung the way of the Shakers, George Baker’s effort squeezing in with quarter of the match elapsed. The Hatters were never really in the contest, losing the midfield battle and any impetus to hit on the counter.

Back in the play-offs, albeit having played a game more…

The draw for the third round of the FA Cup would see my side hosting Premier League opposition in the form of Huddersfield Town under a certain Danny Cowley. A brilliant incentive to go to Brisbane Road in December and upset the odds… can I do it? Find out on Thursday!