It is with the sad regret that we announce the death of former Shaker John Connelly, aged 74
John Connelly joined the Shakers in 1970 after being released by Blackburn Rovers. A World Cup Winner medal holder as part of the 1966 England Squad, John arrived at Gigg Lane following 164 appearances and 39 goals for Blackburn as well as 20 International Caps.
He was to retire from the game two years later having amassed a total of 142 appearances for Bury, scoring 38 goals.
During the 2006/07 season, John very kindly did an interview for the Shakers programme with James Bentley, and he spoke fondly of his time at Gigg Lane. That interview is shown below in full.
Our thoughts and condolence’s go the friends and family of John Connelly
The History Boys with John Connelly – by James Bentley
“I had a lovely time at Bury. I’m only sorry that while I was there, we never won anything,” says John Connelly in his distinctive Lancastrian brogue. And coming from a man who may soon be in possession of a World Cup winner’s medal, that really is something.
A career that took off at Burnley, progressed at Manchester United and continued at Blackburn came to an end at Bury. It was, says Connelly, the ideal place to see out his playing days. “I have lovely memories of the club and the brilliant bunch that I played with,” he says.
“One thing I liked about it was being able to help people along. Some of the younger players, like Terry McDermott or David Holt, might come to me for advice and I could give it. There was a good craic in the dressing room,” he admits.
Despite the fact that, as he noted, John never won any honours at Gigg Lane, there were still good times. “I remember games like the one where we walloped Aston Villa in the season when they got promoted but then we’d lose to the lesser clubs. Then there was the game against Manchester City in the League Cup. They were on the slide a bit but we deserved to beat them and there was a terrific atmosphere that night.”
In fact, low crowds were a sticking point throughout John’s time at Bury. “We never got big gates because of our proximity to the city but the people who did come were always knowledgeable and with that comes a passion, so it was good playing in front of them,” he admits.
Being a former member of the 1966 England world cup-winning squad undoubtedly helped Connelly’s cause in being one of the crowd favourites. Although he didn’t play in the final, he is now set to receive a winner’s medal 41 years after the final due to a change in ruling.
“I just got on with my life, running my chip shop in Nelson. But recently a man from the Daily Mirror rang to tell me it might be happening – I thought it was Jeremy Beadle! I’ve not had it confirmed by FIFA or the FA or anything yet but I think it’s on,” he says.
“They were a great squad and we all looked out for each other. We call ourselves ‘The Boys of ‘66’ and we still have a reunion every year, even the WAGs,” he laughs.
Since retirement from ‘Connelly’s Plaice’ five years ago, John and his wife have since hit the road in between spending time with their seven grandchildren. “We have a motor-home and travel all over the country and Europe as well. We’re old-age travellers,” he chuckles.
Wherever they may next tip up, one thing is for sure – it’s been the journey of a lifetime for John Connelly.
Rest in peace John