Midfielder David Bridges has revealed he was forced to leave Bury Town to protect his home and family after moving to Brackley Town this week.
The 31-year-old former Stevenage midfielder was still owed part of his November wages as the Free Press went to print yesterday and said he could not afford to be without his football money as he makes the transition from playing the sport professionally to part-time.
Despite not wanting to leave, Bridges insists there are no hard feelings towards the club and expects them to pull through a difficult time.
“It’s a great club and just unfortunate what is going on right now, but I’m sure they will be okay in the long run,” said Bridges, who has not played for Bury since breaking his finger against Grays Athletic on November 16.
The Free Press understands other members of Bury’s squad were also still waiting for part of their November wages as the paper went to print — with their money for December due in the coming days.
“I didn’t want to go, but I was left with no option really,” added Bridges, who joins Skrill North outfit Brackley in the midst of a promotion battle. “If it was for football reasons, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere because the lads — after a bad September — have really come together.
“Before I got injured, we had won seven out of eight and then after a couple of losses (to Bognor Regis and Eastleigh) we had a similar run again.”
Although Bury were keen to sort something out with Bridges — who was hailed as the Blues’ marquee summer signing when he joined from Chelmsford City — the uncertainty over his wages forced his hand.
“I have a wife and two children, so I can’t have uncertainty,” he said. “Because I’m crossing over from full-time football to part-time, I’m reliant on my football income.
“Moving forward, it was a case of will it happen again or won’t it? If those issues are going on, I couldn’t risk my household.”
Bridges is the second player to depart in the last fortnight — following Shane Tolley’s switch to St Neots Town.
Asked if more players could follow himself and Tolley out of the Ram Meadow exit door in the near future, Bridges added: “I have no idea.
“I can only speak for my situation — everybody is different, it will affect players in different ways and some may not even be affected. I’ve got big responsibilities with my wife and children.”
In spite of the recent problems off the field, Bridges praised everyone at the club for how they were attempting to deal with it.
“Wilks (manager Richard Wilkins) and Chenners (assistant boss Ben Chenery) have been class and the lads have a great relationship.
“The chairman (Russell Ward) has done what he can — he loves the football club and I’ve never met a chairman so involved.”
Wilkins was upset to lose Bridges, especially as he was really coming into form just before his injury against Grays.
“He goes with our best wishes,” said the Blues’ boss. “He was very good for us over a period of five or six games before he broke his finger and that scuppered December for him — he would have been a welcome addition back into the squad.”
The departure of Bridges leaves Wilkins with just 12 senior players to select from ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Hampton and Richmond Borough in the Ryman League Premier Division (3pm).
Those 12 players represent a fully-fit squad for Bury and the former Colchester United captain, who has been in charge at Ram Meadow for more than a decade, will have to look within his squad.
Russell Short and the improving Joe Whight have formed a solid central midfield partnership, but concerns remain in attack, with no senior strikers within the Blues’ squad.
That could see Billy Clark or Danny Cunningham pushed up top, with the returning Ryan Semple — back from a hamstring injury as a second-half substitute against AFC Hornchurch on Saturday — filling the attacking midfield or left-wing berth vacated by whoever is selected to play as a makeshift striker.
Australian teenager Anthony Roulston has started the last three games up front and, although he netted against Canvey Island on Boxing Day, was outmuscled by Hornchurch 48 hours later.
Ryan Taylor — one of the Blues’ latest youth products — is also pressing for a start in attack.
Veteran defensive midfielder John Kennedy should also return from an ankle injury sustained at Maidstone United last month.
n A goal in each half earned Bury Town three points at Canvey Island on Boxing Day.
Jordan Patrick opened the scoring in the third minute and later set up Anthony Roulston, who powerfully headed home.
Bury: Garnham, Smith, Dunbar, Short, Bailey-Dennis, Bullard, Wales, Whight, Roulston (Taylor 80), Clark, Patrick. Subs not used: Bailey, Allen, Kennedy.