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Club News

Rest In Peace, Jim Iley

19 November 2018

Bury Football Club is saddened to hear of the passing of former Manager, Jim Iley.

Jim Iley (Bury Manager from 1st July 1980 to 15th February 1984)

Jim Iley was born in the heart of the Yorkshire coalfield in South Kirkly on 15th December 1935. He began his working life down the pit before joining Sheffield United in June 1953.

He quickly built up a reputation as a classy winger which prompted Spurs to bring him South in a £16,000 deal in August 1957. Transferred to Nottingham Forest then to Newcastle United in 1962 in an attempt to gain them promotion to the First Division. Regular First Division football continued until his transfer to Peterborough United in January 1969.

He also held the position of Player/Manager for two seasons, before hanging up his boots after 535 league appearances and the scoring of 30 goals.

After he left Peterborough in 1972, he joined Barnsley as Manager for a five-year spell ending in 1978. His next move was to Ewood Park for a spell which he later described as his worst experience in football. Blackburn had just missed promotion to the First Division and a successful attempt was envisaged by the supporters this time. Disaster struck Iley as they lost their opening eight league games and he was sacked to be replaced by Howard Kendall.

He arrived at Gigg Lane on 1st July 1980, following a spell as a scout for Luton Town. The irony of Iley's managerial career was that he nearly built successful sides. He left Portsmouth in 1972/73 and they were promoted in 1973/74, left Barnsley in 1977/78 and they were promoted in 1978/79. This run continued when he left Bury in 1983/94 and we were promoted the following year.

His first task at Bury was to oversee the transfer of Danny Wilson to Chesterfield for £150,000. Little of this money was to be made available to Iley to build a team and the Shakers had to rely on free transfer signings. Despite early success in the League Cup (we knocked Newcastle United out of the competition) results in Division four were terrible.

Eight of the first eleven games were lost and we lay 92nd in the league for the first time in our history. Demonstrations by supporters against Ron Clarke did not persuade him to resign, but money was made available to strengthen the side.

Joe Jakub and Tommy Gore were bought from Burnley and Wigan respectively for £32,000 and this coincided with a rise up the table to eventually finish 12th. As Iley had promised, the team scored goals, 68 to be exact and this was beaten only by Champions Southend United.

The following season, 1980/81, saw the Shakers topping the league table until early December. During the season, Craig Madden smashed Norman Bullock's 55-year-old goal scoring record by hitting the back of the net on 42 occasions. John Bramhall was bought from Tranmere for £12,000 in March. During the close season Paul Gardner, Francis Firth, Mark Hilton, Stuart Parker and Eric Potts were all signed for the promotion push.

The 1982/83 season began well as we went immediately into a promotion position. Indeed, top spot was held during November and December. A fine 1-0 win at rivals Scunthorpe began to open up a gap but a tragic injury to Paul Hilton against Bristol City was to have a big bearing on the outcome of the season.

Although we hung onto fourth position, Scunthorpe, with games in hand, were proving an annoying fifth team for the four promotion positions. Although we beat them at Gigg Lane in the 44th fixture to put us in a strong position, we lost out to the Iron by losing our final game against Wimbledon. The club were absolutely shattered and it took a season to recover. The writing was on the wall for Iley though, as we fell to a mid-table position.

After Christmas, gates dropped to an unprecedented level as results went from bad to worse and following a board meeting on 15th February, Iley was sacked after his refusal to resign. He said he was no quitter and had never walked away from anything.

Wilf McGuiness was put in temporary charge whilst a successor was sought.

Jim's Bury FC record was:

League

167

67

49

51

265

205

FA Cup

12

4

4

4

15

12

League Cup

13

4

2

7

19

38

Totals

192

75

55

62

299

255

The thoughts of everyone at Bury Football Club are with Jim’s family and friends at this difficult time.


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