DANNY Cunningham is back at Ram Meadow — a place he believes he should never have left.
The talented, but sometimes fiery and controversial, left-footed wideman has been snapped up as the Blues’ first signing of the summer after leaving Ridgeons League Premier Division champions Leiston at the end of his contract.
And although his career has seen him lift the Ridgeons League trophy and reach the first round of the FA Cup, Cunningham admitted he regretted walking out on Bury as a teenager.
“I’ve always said to Wilks (Bury manager Richard Wilkins) that I should never have left,” said Ipswich-based Cunningham. “Maybe if I had stayed, I would have been further up the football ladder.
“But I’ve got the chance to go back and people like Trevor Collins, Richard Skelly and Richard Wilkins have always looked after me well. I also stayed in contact with Tom Bullard quite a lot as well.
“I think winning the league is realistic. Bury got to the play-offs and were unlucky not to go through against Lowestoft, so the next thing up we can do is win the league, go up and then aim to get out of the league above.”
After leaving the Blues in 2006, Cunningham spent a year at AFC Sudbury under Mark Morsley before settling at Leiston following a loan spell.
It was in the early winter of 2008 that Bury Town’s new signing rose to fame, for all the right and all the wrong reasons.
Although Cunningham guided Leiston into the first round of the FA Cup for the only time in their history — eventually ended by non-League Fleetwood Town via a replay — he was also arrested just hours before a fourth qualifying round replay trip to Lewes.
In November 2008, after pleading guilty to possessing drugs with intent to supply — namely crack cocaine, heroin and cannabis with a street value of more than £15,000 — he was sentenced to two years in a young offenders’ institute, but was released in time for the start of the 2009/10 season.
A total of 15 goals in 65 Ridgeons League Premier Division matches for Leiston has followed since.
And although Cunningham has widely been considered one of his side’s key players, he had fallen out of favour with boss Morsley, now in charge of Ridgeons Premier champions Leiston.
Cunningham, who has just become a father to a baby boy, said: “Bury are doing well, I’m looking to move up the the ladder and I think it’s the right time to go now that I’m out of contract.
“Mark Morsley said I wasn’t really part of his plans for next year so I thought if I was going to go then I should go now.”
Craig Nurse has become the latest Bury Town player to put pen to paper for next season, signing non-contract terms.
n Meanwhile, Bury Town have become embroiled in a storm that has seen American side San Diego Flash thrown out of the US Open Cup for playing an ineligible player.
Lee Underwood, who was still contracted to Bury, featured for the Flash in two matches on their way to a six-match winning streak in qualification for the competition but did not have international clearance from the English Football Association.
San Diego are appealing the decision, while it is highly unlikely there would be any repercussions for Bury Town.