Billy Clark believes his group of friends at Bury Town can match what has previously been achieved by the club in the Ryman Premier.
Clark and the likes of former Ipswich Town players Seb Dunbar, Joe Whight and Callum Bennett – as well as new signing Remi Garrett – know each other well off the pitch, and hope to transfer that understanding on to it.
With such strong bonds between a core group of players, the injured Clark has backed the Blues to reach the play-offs next season.
“Everyone seems to think we may be in a crisis, but the people I’ve spoken to don’t feel that way,” said Clark, who has signed a new contract but will not be available until next year because of the long-term knee injury he suffered last season. “I’m very happy to play for Bury, and Cheners (boss Ben Chenery) is very positive about what he wants to do – I’m looking forward to getting back from injury and being part of it.”
Since being released by Ipswich Town in October 2011, Clark has established himself at Bury Town, becoming the Blues’ most influential creative force.
The midfielder and his family have taken the club so much to heart, his mum Andrea is now the chairman of the supporters’ club and been responsible for a lot of work to spruce up Ram Meadow with a party of hardy volunteers.
“She’s trying to help out in whatever way she can,” Clark said of his mum.
Having initially struggled to adapt to life outside of the professional game, Clark now appears content with his football, despite the battle to get back to full fitness.
“I get to enjoy playing football a lot more,” he said. “There’s loads less pressure and everyone at the club is nice.
“It’s enjoyable playing with your friends and the Ryman Premier is not a bad level at all.”
He added: “I don’t see any reason why we can’t do as well as Bury have before, which is make the play-offs.”
Since rupturing his cruciate knee ligament against Wingate and Finchley on March 15, Clark has undergone an operation to repair the damage and is now working his way back to fitness.
No targets have been set by the player, who was also ruled out of most of the 2012/13 campaign with a broken ankle, to make sure he is ready to return to the side without risk of suffering the injury again.
“I’m in the gym at the moment, strengthening my knee and doing a bit of swimming to help it,” he said. “I’m not setting too many specific targets – I’m not going to rush back because I want to make sure it’s right.”
n Bury Town Football Club SuperDraw week four results: £1,000 Mrs B Smith; £150 Mr M Cartwright; £100 Mr D Robinson; £75 Ms K Parker; £50 Mr F Crawford, Mrs T Ormrod; £25 Mr G Allen, Mr Boarer, Mr S Armstrong, Mrs S Bodycote. Birth date drawn: 05/05/57, matched by Mr A Stokes (£300). Next week: £100.