Bury Town will start the 2014/15 season with a new captain as well as a new manager.
Long-serving centre-half Tom Bullard became the first high-profile playing departure from Ram Meadow this summer after agreeing a move to the Blues’ Ryman League Premier Division rivals Leiston.
The club legend admitted it was a wrench to leave, but was best for his playing career.
“I just feel like I need a new challenge,” said Bullard, whose final act as Bury captain was to lift the Suffolk Premier Cup for a third time on April 29. “There were times this season when I woke up not wanting to play football.”
Bullard, who ‘didn’t take the decision lightly’ admitted his mind was almost made up before the departure of manager Richard Wilkins last week.
“With what’s gone on and Wilks leaving, I thought it was the right time to do it,” added Bullard, who has given up his testimonial to make the move. “I’ve toyed with it in the past, but stayed and been loyal.
“Leiston have shown a lot of ambition with who they have looked to bring in and what they want to do — they won me over.
“It’s not about money at all — if it was, I would have stayed, got my testimonial and made four or five grand.”
Bullard made his first-team debut in the 2004/05 season and went on to win two promotions and five trophies at Bury and admitted he ‘could not have asked for any more’.
“I’ve worked with the likes of Trevor Collins, Richard Skelly, Ben Chenery and Wilks — they have made me the player I am today,” said Bullard. “The fans have been superb.
“I’ve already had lots of messages and not had a bad one.”
Chairman Russell Ward said he was ‘disappointed’ to see Bullard leave and wished him good luck.
The Blues’ chief has been busy with the aftermath of last week’s departure — that of
manager Wilkins — and confirmed there had been 12 applicants for the vacated role, including three former professionals, Bury’s interim boss Ben Chenery, the manager of a side local to Bury and one currently in charge of a Ryman One North club.
“Some of them are well connected,” said Ward. “One has references from Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis.”