Andy Bishop tells Chris Burton that the Bury camp knew they had it in them to compete in League One.
Last Updated: 13/01/12 8:05pm
Take a quick glance at the League One table and you will notice that two of the clubs promoted onto that stage last season are currently struggling to make their voice heard.
Chesterfield, the fourth tier champions from 2010/11, currently prop up the division while Wycombe, who finished third last term, are languishing in 22nd place.
The only side to have secured automatic promotion in May 2011 and not occupy a standing inside the drop zone at present is Bury.
In fact, they are nowhere near the third tier trapdoor.
The Shakers, buoyed by their exploits last season, sit 10th - with only seven points separating them from the play-off places.
Few would have expected the Lancashire outfit to be flying so high at this stage of the campaign, with League One awash with fallen giants.
Bury's budget also pales into insignificance when compared to some of their supposedly illustrious rivals, but the Shakers are holding their own and they are doing it on merit.
When you consider that they saw Alan Knill, the mastermind behind their promotion push, head for Scunthorpe in March 2011 and top scorer Ryan Lowe accept a switch to Sheffield Wednesday in August, Bury could have been forgiven for retreating into their shell and feeling sorry for themselves.
There has been none of that, though, and under the guidance of Richie Barker the club continue to head in the right direction.
The feel-good factor has returned to Gigg Lane and all of those inside the camp are thoroughly enjoying their football - as skysports.com's Chris Burton found out when he caught up with goal-getter in chief Andy Bishop.
"We've probably done better than people thought," he said.
"I think the momentum from last year has carried on and we've carried on the way we have been going. We lost a couple of key players and people were playing when they weren't fully fit. But we have got quite a strong squad so as soon as people got fit, we were able to kick on again."
They have kicked on so far that a top-six finish could be considered the target for Bury this season, but Bishop insists no-one at the club will be getting too far ahead of themselves.
He said: "To be honest, I think everyone at the club still wants to get to the 50-point mark. That would be good for the first season. If we can stay in League One, we can push on from there. I think everyone knows that if we can keep hold of the quality players we have got, maybe next season we could push on for the play-offs.
"We have done well but we have got Sheffield United tomorrow (Saturday) and we got beat 4-0 there, so let's just hope that we can stick together and show how far we have come."
It is over 10 years since Bury last graced the second tier of English football but, with some careful guidance off the field, there is every chance that they will soon be back on that lofty perch.
On the progress being made by the Shakers, Bishop said: "I think the way that the club has been managed by the directors of the board and the chairman, they have built a club in the right way. They have got players in and sold players when they have needed to. But we have got stronger and stronger.
"The dressing room at the club is probably the best it has been since I have been here. Everyone backs each other up and has got a winning mentality."
Bury have plenty of incentive to build on the foundations they have put down this term, with North West neighbours Tranmere, Preston, Oldham and arch-rivals Rochdale all below them in the table as things stand.
"It would be nice to finish above all of those, but we aren't going to get too carried away yet," said Bishop.
"At the start of the season I think people thought we would struggle, but as a team and as a group we thought we would be able to push on, and that's what has happened."
Bishop has played his part in Bury's success this season, as he closes in on double figures in terms of goals scored, and he admits he considers the campaign to have been a success on a personal level.
He said: "With the injuries I have had in the last couple of years, it has been important for me to play. I have got a few goals and hopefully that will carry on through to the end of the season. Hopefully I can get towards the 15 or 20-goal mark."
He could, however, do with a bit of help from elsewhere, with it important for the Shakers not to place the burden of goal-scoring responsibility squarely on Bishop's shoulders.
He said: "Yeah, we could (do with sharing the goals around). We have just signed Cokey, Giles Coke on loan from Sheffield Wednesday, so he will chip in with a couple as well. As a team we hope to have a few more people scoring."
It is vital that everyone steps up to the mark over the coming weeks, with Bury set to take in fixtures with high-flying Sheffield United and Charlton, as well as a derby date with Rochdale.
"It's going to be tough in January/February, but we will know where we are going to be after these games," said Bishop.
"Then we will be able to either push on and try to get in the play-offs, or make sure we stay in the division."
Anything may still be possible for Bury this season, with it still too early to suggest which path their campaign will take, but there is no indecision from Bishop when asked to outline both his and the club's ambitions for the remainder of 2011/12.
He said: "For me, it's just about scoring as many goals as I can and keep this club in this division. Like I said, no-one is getting carried away, we are taking each game as it comes and if we manage to stay in the division, then we will push on again next year."