Gigg Lane: a history

Aug 17, 2017 | News

Gigg Lane has been Bury’s home for 132 years. The first match to be played there was a friendly between Bury and Wigan in September 1885, which Bury won 4–3. The first league game was a 4–2 victory over Manchester City on 8 September 1894 in the Second Division.

The stadium had permanent floodlights erected in 1953, although the first floodlit match to be played there took place in 1889, before the League had authorised the use of floodlights in competitive matches.

The capacity of the ground was once 35,000, and this capacity was reached when Bury met Bolton Wanderers in an FA Cup third round tie in January 1960. The game ended 1–1 with Bury losing the replay after extra time 4–2

In 1986 Gigg Lane saw its lowest ever crowd of just 461 for a Freight Rover Trophy game against Tranmere Rovers. There has never been a league crowd below 1,000 although the closest to that mark came in 1984 with a crowd of 1,096 against Northampton Town.

The highest all-seater attendance at Gigg Lane was recorded when Bury played local rivals Manchester City in September 1997, with an attendance of 11,216.

The ground was renamed the JD Stadium in November 2013 after Bury announced a new sponsorship deal with JD Sports. The deal ended in July 2015.

In 2016 it was announced that the club was looking to build a new 15,000–20,000 capacity stadium in the borough of Bury.

The stadium’s current capacity is 11,840. The South Stand is the largest stand and it was renamed the “Les Hart Stand” in the summer of 2010. The stand contains a pattern of blue and white seats that spell out the clubs nickname the shakers

After the Taylor Report forced Football clubs to switch to all-seater stadiums, the stadium began converting all four sides of the ground in 1993, with the Cemetery End being the final terraced section to be demolished in 1999.

The Manchester Road End (capacity 2,100) was home to the club’s electronic scoreboard (obtained from Leicester City’s Filbert Street after it closed in 2002) until 2011. A new scoreboard was placed in the south-east corner of the ground a few months later. The Cemetery End or East Stand has a capacity of 2,500.

In September 2015 a screen was installed in the right-hand side of the Les Hart Stand. On Match-Days the club show advertisements, match highlights and the scoreline.

Towards the end of the 2015–16 season, a fence was constructed between the Cemetery End and the Les Hart Stand in an attempt to stop the club’s rise of hooliganism. This further separates both Home and Away supporters.

Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers have hosted reserve-team matches at Gigg Lane. FC United of Manchester shared the ground from the 2005–06 season until 2014 when they moved into their own ground. They set a club record attendance of 6,731 when they played Brighton in the FA Cup In December 2010.

A couple of teams have switched their home games to the stadium, including Preston North End  for a League Cup tie in 1994, and non-league sides Rossendale United and Radcliffe Borough For home FA Cup ties.

In 1996, the stadium was used as the filming location for the TV film based on the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, where 96 Liverpool fans died as a result of a crush on the stadium’s terraces. Hillsborough was seen as an unsuitable location for the film, partly to avoid causing further distress to survivors and bereaved families, and partly because the appearance of Gigg Lane was more akin to the 1989 Hillsborough than the actual stadium was seven years after the tragedy due to redevelopment.

The stadium has also played host to Rugby League with the Swinton Lions playing at Gigg Lane between 1992 and 2002),