A memorable afternoon at Tranmere, two years ago, saw Bury needing a victory and a massive favour from Morecambe and, thankfully, it all came off. Morecambe went a goal in front, Southend equalised and then Morecambe retook the lead. The Shrimps goal, at the Globe Arena, were celebrated at Prenton Park before the packed away end suddenly erupted with “We only need one goal”.
Some ten minutes later and Tom Soares toe poked the ball home to send the travelling Shakers faithful delirious. There were absolute scenes and the celebrations were wild. Nerves then kicked in, tensions rose until the game finished and Bury fans flooded on to the pitch and we waited for the result from Morecambe. A 3 – 1 Morecambe victory saw the celebrations start in earnest with the fans on the pitch and then back at Gigg Lane which were reminiscent of a visit to Chesterfield ProAct Stadium after promotion was gained there in 2011. Will we have that same feeling this evening at Tranmere? Perhaps not, as this is a totally new team, more or less, with new management but the expectations are as high if not even more so.
However, as Bury were celebrating, Tranmere were suffering their worst nightmare come true - relegation from the Football League. Bury Football Club made all possible moves to take the celebration away from Prenton Park as you don't celebrate fully when your opposition has just lost its league place.
For Lee Clark none of the above means anything, for 95% of the players involved it will mean nothing - but the fans remember, fans never forget.
I think it’s fair to day that both clubs are stronger for that day. Bury are stronger on and off the field. Tranmere, although still in the National League, had a really good go at it last season and are must the favourites for a return to the Football League come the end of the new season.
This game will be the last chance for the lads to grab that starting XI team shirt, ahead of next weekend’s opener with Walsall. However, three will miss out - Phil Edwards, Danny Mayor and Eoghan O'Connell as they will all miss the game and the start of the season through injury but the rest are fighting for one of those eleven shirts.
Fitness isn't a problem, tactically it's not a problem - now it's important, now it's about starting against Walsall and keeping that shirt. Some players are going to be unhappy and it's about how those players are managed – and it is probably the biggest challenge for any manager.
Performance is key for this game, the result is still not that important, but every one of the players who will cross that white line will be wanting to win the game. Stephen Dawson, perhaps, has the best quote and whilst it may be over eight years old now but, according to the Shakers skipper, “It's a game of football and it's a game we have to win”. There is no such thing as a friendly game according to him.
Who starts? Who knows?! We can have a pretty good guess. Those who went to the Salford City friendly, on Tuesday, will have a good idea. Either way it will be a strong side, a side wanting to win and with players wanting to keep that shirt.
We will also see another debut this evening - the new away kit, watch out for teasers on social media, throughout the afternoon, from 1 pm.
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Season Tickets: The deadline for Early Bird Phase Two season ticket is fast approaching - 5pm on Monday. Payment plans are still available – click here for details
Coverage: Full match commentary will be available FREE of charge, on iFollow Bury, with our usual commentary team of Maurice Dickson and Brian Rigby, from around 7:15 pm via the Match Centre on the top of the website. We will also have updates throughout the game via our official Twitter account (@buryfcofficial). Video Interviews with Lee Clark and key players from the game will be live on iFollow Bury, late on Friday evening.
Enjoy the game!