Bury fans attend their beloved club's funeral
Bury FC fans react outside Gigg Lane. (Reuters)
London - The supporters, old and young, reflected the sense of community that the club generated at weekends for over 100 years of playing as a league club
Bury fans descended on their Gigg Lane stadium on Wednesday like mourners at a funeral after the third-tier team were expelled from the English Football League.
The supporters, old and young, reflected the sense of community that the club generated at weekends for over 100 years of playing as a league club.
Bury's travails are a world away from the riches enjoyed by Manchester City and Manchester United just nine miles (14 kilometres) around the corner - the epitome of the haves and have nots in football.
This was not lost on some of the fans who milled around in the rain in a funereal atmosphere, "paying their respects" and hanging scarves on the gates or placing bouquets of flowers.
"Football has got out of hand," David Smith said.
"There is a player (Alexis Sanchez) up the road at (Manchester) United being paid £537,000 a week and not playing.
"The greed needs to stop. The top clubs have done this to Bury FC and it won't end at Bury."
"The bottom clubs will be wiped out. In future years there will be the English Premier League and the (second-tier) Championship and nothing more," added the 58-year-old emergency services worker.
For Smith's 86-year-old mother Margaret, who recalls as a young girl shouting at the referee from behind the goal, it has been a dreadful few days for her and her husband. He is 88 and he has been coming here for 84 years to watch the club," she said.
"He is devastated, a lot of tears come down at our house this week. I was reading a book at home but I could not read the book for the simple reason the club could shut down."
The hope that the club might be saved on Tuesday had prompted several hundred fans like 30-year-old Lee Chadwick to come and prepare the ground for a league game with Doncaster Rovers this weekend.
However, the takeover talks collapsed shortly before the 1600GMT deadline set by the English Football League and their expulsion was announced a few hours later.
For Chadwick, it is a huge blow to the community spirit engendered by the club.
"I am absolutely distraught," he said. "I have supported them for 24 years - generations of my family have as well.
"My grandfather brought my father and he brought me. I will never get the opportunity to bring my children down here.
"Clubs, local businesses - they could go out of business. It is a small town, the club means everything to it. It is a travesty."