WHAT a week it’s been for BURY FC. The Shakers were still on a high from ending their winless run in style when they announced the signing of former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant last Thursday.
After scoring four in that 5-1 win over Peterborough, James Vaughan followed it up with a brace in last Friday’s 2-2 draw at Port Vale, giving him 16 goals in 20 league starts for Bury. But the best was yet to come. Shakers supporters were spitting out their coffee on Tuesday morning as they discovered club legend Ryan Lowe would be returning for a third spell at Gigg Lane.
The veteran striker was offered basic terms on a new one-year deal last summer but turned it down to rejoin Crewe, who could guarantee him first-team football after being relegated to League Two.
But before Christmas, Bury manager Chris Brass and chairman Stewart Day hatched a plan to lure Lowe back to the club, and with changes afoot at Crewe, they agreed to release him. Now 38, Lowe has taken up a player-coach role, working with both youth and first-team players, and will be groomed for the role of first-team coach.
“It’s like one of those dreams that don’t come true – but it has,” Lowe said. “I’m over the moon. It’s like I’ve never been away. A lot of credit has to go to Brassy and the chairman for making it happen. You don’t get many opportunities to go back to places where your loved. I’m so proud to be given this opportunity as well.”
Lowe helped Bury win promotion from League Two in each of his previous two spells with the club, scoring 70 goals in 160 games for the Shakers. He was linked with a return after David Flitcroft was sacked in November and although he said a move into management was too soon, Lowe did say he would one day be Bury boss.
But with Crewe struggling in League Two, manager Steve Davis was sacked earlier this month to be replaced by Lowe’s former team-mate David Artell.
On leaving Bury last summer, Lowe said: “People knew that I didn’t want to go, but there were circumstances. I wanted to still play football, first and foremost, and my future didn’t lie here at that time. That’s football, it’s not against anyone.
“I was always in contact with Brassy and the chairman, I was always looking out for the results, and then the situation changed. I got a call in December, to ask if I’d consider coming back in the department Brassy and the chairman wanted.
“I said yes but had to be respectful to Crewe. I sat down with them and spoke with the manager at the time, Steve Davis. He said he didn’t want me to go but see what happens in January.
“Then the tables turned again. He lost his job and a new manager came in, with a new coaching staff, and I felt it was too big an opportunity not to come this time around, to come in for the next 4 or 5 months and find my feet (with coaching), and still be a part of the team. I wanted to do what I like doing – being around this place with this type of people. It’s exciting times, I felt I couldn’t turn it down, and that’s why I made it happen.”
Once Artell had signed Jordan Bowery on loan from Leyton Orient he was willing to let his captain leave. Lowe was also Crewe’s top scorer with 9 goals from 23 starts but the Crewe boss felt he could not stand in his way.
“I have to give Crewe a lot of respect,” said Lowe. “Dave Artell’s just come in and ended up losing his captain, his leading goalscorer and the most experienced player in his squad. I expressed my desire to leave but I wasn’t like ‘I want out, I want to go now’. We had to bide our time and he said when I get a striker in I’ll gladly let you move on.”
He added: “I could have waited another year and gone into a coaching role somewhere else but I didn’t want to. The coaching role I wanted was here, it always has been. As long as the chairman and Brassy are here, I’ll be here.”
Lowe is set to be back in action at Gigg Lane this Saturday as he’s available for the home match against Walsall. So too is Pennant after Bury received international clearance following the 34-year-old’s spell in Singapore.