An Analysis of ‘Bury expelled: How Shakers went from promotion to league exit in four months’
The decline of Bury Football Club in 2019 was an infamous event for football fans, as a club with a great history became insolvent. The BBC released an article, on 27th August 2019, to trace back the events that led up to the collapse.
Mode, Genre and Audience
This is a written piece, with visual elements embedded into it. The pictures of events are scattered about the article to add context to what is written, and the majority of the article leads up to the 99 second video clip, that tells the stories of several fans.
The genre that the article is part of is Longform writing, there are a number elements of factual storytelling. The embedded video is a documentary style clip, that adds some visual storytelling into the article.
In terms of audience it could be argued that it is predominantly British or possibly European. This is due to the football club being ingrained in a town’s prosperity and culture. This may be something unfamiliar to an audience from another culture, and thus may not have the same effect. The audience is also predominantly football fans, but it may attract those that are close to the club geographically, or simply people who have a keen interest in sport in general.
The one change that could have been made about the form of the article, is that it could have simply been a short documentary in the style of the clip. Despite it being short, it conveys a great deal of information that the writer is unable to put across. The emotion and rawness conveyed by the fans brings a great deal more power to the story, than simply reading the words.
Narrator and Characters
The choice that the author has made is that of an effaced or invisible narrator, including in the short video clip. The story is brought up by the narrator, and then fleshed out by quotes from the actors.
Even though it could be seen as a setting, Bury Football Club is the first and most important character in the article. It is treated like a person as it’s removal from the league is viewed almost as a death. But the club is represented by two separate characters, the fans, and the players.
The fans are introduced using an image at the top of the article showing fan protests, and they continue to be portrayed as helpless protesters. This firmly puts the audience in the camp of the fans, as the struggle and frustration they face is relatable.
The second major character in the piece is Steve Dale, a picture of Dale laughing with the quote ‘If I don’t the job, slag me off- simple as that’ quickly sets how the writer is looking to portray Dale. There is almost a stereotypical evil villain quality to the pairing of the quote and the picture. The cold and disdainful nature of the comment combined with the image, looks to distance Dale from the reader and provide a clear line of which side the reader takes.
Though there is mention of Dale’s survival from Cancer and his ‘new beginning’ in owning the club, that more endearing part of Dale’s story is quickly swept under the carpet by other actions and quotes.
Setting and Movement
Though all of the story takes place at Bury football club, there are two distinct settings, on the pitch and off the pitch. These two settings contrast each other greatly, as the success on the pitch with promotion to League one, is put up against the chaos off it.
Movement is created via the conflict between Dale and the fans and players. The lack of effort from Dale to sell the club creates frustration, and drives the players and fans to action. There is also movement created with the time pressure of the club needing to find new ownership, and the pleas of fans and players for Dale to sell, in the club’s final days.
Mimesis and Temporality
Mimesis is used in a number of ways, particularly in the video and images presented alongside the text. The exasperation and helplessness of the fans is presented to the audience via the video. The tone of voice and emotional response of the fans emphasises their hurt. The picture of the fan holding the coffin brings about the idea of the club being a character that is dying, adding to the story, and the helplessness.
The author uses chronology to trace back the steps that the club took to get to this point. Starts from the present situation, then skips back to tell the story. The short space of time that the downfall occurs in is also key to the narrative that is being presented, as events happen at a rapid pace, showing the steep decline.
Blame Frame and Explain Frame
The article looks at Steve Dale’s actions as being the cause of the expulsion of the football club from the football league. However, it does go some way to explain that the there may have been more to the situation from the offset in terms of the club’s problematic financial situation.
Despite this however, the majority of the article is simply creating conflict with Dale at the centre, without looking in depth at the decline of the club financially over a longer period of time. This probably wouldn’t affect the audience, as extra information taking blame away from Dale would only detract from the story that the author is trying to tell.
What’s the point?
The point of the article is to both provoke an emotional response from the reader, either that of outrage or sadness. It is also to inform football fans of the information behind the decline of Bury, and act as a warning to fans of other clubs of the destructive power of bad ownership.
What could be Better?
Though this is primarily a story of conflict, there were occasionally hints at chemistry between fans, staff and players. This could’ve been greater stressed, to give the story some feeling of hope instead of unending helplessness against a stubborn adversary.
The camaraderie between fans at Bury was great, and the power of that through adversity could have made the reader have an even more powerful reaction to the actions and words of Steve Dale.
What have I learned?
From this article I have learned the power of showing emotion, instead of telling people about it. It is harder to convey emotion through words, than it is to see it and hear it through the actions and speech of those involved. The embedded video clip adds an extra dimension to the story, that doesn’t quite come across from words alone.