'None of us really know where to turn' - Life after Bury
Written by Simon Austin — September 1, 2019
MATT WOOD has just completed his first three months in full-time professional football.
As Bury’s Head of Academy Sports Science, the 25-year has had 5am alarm calls, long hours and tasks ranging from helping prepare breakfast to conducting conditioning sessions. He hasn't been paid a penny and isn't likely to be now.
The League One side were thrown out of the Football League on Tuesday night after owner Steve Dale failed to meet a final deadline to conclude a sale of the club and all the staff lost their jobs.
“We still haven’t even received a letter to say we’re unemployed,” Wood told TGG. “None of us really know where to turn now. I haven’t been paid anything since I went full time at the club in July and I think it’s going to be a case of writing that off.
“I recently got engaged and moved into a new house, so it’s tough. It’s worse for a lot of the other staff though, because they have families and can’t afford not to be paid. They’re really struggling.
“All the way through, we had been told there was nothing to worry about, that a buyer would be found. We've been going into the training ground every day and doing our jobs as normal.
"Even up to the final deadline, we hoped there would be a sale. The training ground was a very sad place after Tuesday. We still went in, because the staff were trying to get the lads new clubs and keep them fit.
Unfortunately, after a brilliant 3 years working at @buryfcofficial I’m now left without work due to the situation at the club. If you know of any sports science/strength & conditioning opportunities please get in touch. I’m very open/flexible. Any RTs/shares are appreciated????— Matt Wood (@mattwood05) August 31, 2019
"Friday was our last official day. We had Academy players who'd been there for 10 years, who signed for Category 1 Academies but didn't want to go."
On Saturday, Wood decide to tweet to advertise his availability to potential employers.
“Unfortunately, after a brilliant three years working at Bury, I’m now left without work due to the situation at the club," he wrote. “If you know of any sports science/ strength & conditioning opportunities please get in touch. I’m very open/ flexible. Any RTs/ shares are appreciated.”
"I hoped I might get 100 retweets," he admitted. So far there have been 6,000 and counting and "my phone has almost blown up."
Wood played professional rugby league for St Helens Under-23s before completing a sports science degree at Liverpool John Moores and then a Masters in sports nutrition at Chester University. He joined Bury on a voluntary basis at the end of 2016.
“I emailed every club in the local area and Bury were the only ones who got back to me," he remembered. "I started voluntary for about a month and then (Academy Manager) Mark Litherland gave me a part-time role. Three months ago I was promoted to Head of Academy sports science."
He mainly worked with the U18s but had responsibility for all age groups at the Category 3 Academy, which placed 59th in our 2017/18 productivity rankings.
"We had no GPS, no budget, very limited gym equipment and whatever we asked for was turned down," he said. "But Mark and the rest of the staff did a fantastic job with getting hold of what they could and being creative."
Wood isn't sure what happens now.
“Monday will be the first time in a long time that I won’t be getting up at 5am, but it will be sad," he said. “I’m flexible and have a few meetings arranged for next week after that tweet.
“I want to stay in football because it’s something I love doing.”