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Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club’s Jacob Ford calls for proud performance to honour 1974 Ermenonville air disaster victims on 50th anniversary fixture against Dorking





Jacob Ford has called on his Bury St Edmunds side to put in a proud performance as they look to honour the memory of the club’s victims in the Paris air disaster when they host Dorking tomorrow (3pm).

The National League 2 East fixture will be the culmination of a day of tributes at the Greene King IPA Haberden to mark the 50th anniversary of the 18 club members who died on March 3, 1974 when their plane plunged into nearby Ermenonville forest.

All 346 people on board the Turkish Airlines DC-10 aircraft lost their lives in what was then the world’s worst ever air disaster and rocked the town’s rugby club.

Bury’s players have been carrying the names of the air crash victims down the side of their shirts Picture: Beanstalk Media
Bury’s players have been carrying the names of the air crash victims down the side of their shirts Picture: Beanstalk Media

Bury’s players have been carrying the names of those 18 victims on special black anniversary shirts this season and director of rugby and head coach Ford, who signed a two year contract extension this week, is looking for a big display from his side tomorrow.

"We have been playing for it all year and this game this week is going to be the peak of that memory that we've been creating,” he said.

"There's no allusion of what we're playing for this weekend and it's not about us, it's about making sure we make everyone proud at the club, that's our responsibility to do that so it's an exciting place to be."

Gordon Ellis, John Cousins and Austin Cornish with pictures of the crash victims beside the Bury rugby club memorial
Gordon Ellis, John Cousins and Austin Cornish with pictures of the crash victims beside the Bury rugby club memorial

He added: “It's really important that at the weekend we showcase ourselves as best we can, we compete as best we can and we entertain as best we can because ultimately that is what we're here to do.

"We've all got an emotional connection with the club, the support is fantastic and this weekend will probably be the biggest its ever been because we're remembering those that we lost so it's really important that we get that right this week."

Bury, who had a break from action last weekend, go into the fixture sitting fifth in the table after losing their last five matches having previously only lost twice in their 15 games before that.

They remain in the hunt though for a club record finish of fourth place, trailing Henley by a point with six matches to go. But they will be facing a third-placed Dorking side 16 points better off and with the title and promotion still to play for.

The Bury Free Press coverage of the plane crash tragedy that stunned the town
The Bury Free Press coverage of the plane crash tragedy that stunned the town

"Dorking are a great team, they've got lots of different tools at their disposal,” said Ford.

"They've got a fantastic set piece and some backs that are going to cause you a lot of problems if you give them good ball.

"We've got to make sure we're watertight and we compete for 80 minutes and I think that's the biggest thing for us, over the last five or six weeks we haven't managed to put together an 80-minute performance and we haven't shown that consistency.

"The challenge this weekend against a team like Dorking is you've got no option but to compete for 80 minutes.”

Bury, whose players will wear black armbands and sing Jerusalem ahead of kick-off as well as taking part in a minute’s silence, have no injury concerns ahead of tomorrow.

The pre-match events will begin from 12:15pm with a memorial service at the club’s dedicated 1974 memorial monument where anyone is welcome to lay flowers.

After the Bury St Edmunds Male Voice Choir have performed to allow people to reflect and remember, a book of respect will open from 12:45pm at the 1974 Suite next to the memorial.

The pre-match lunch will take place from 1pm and include speeches before a guard of honour welcomes the players onto the pitch with another performance by the Bury choir.

The club are also bringing their online auction, which is raising funds to be put back into the club, to a conclusion on the day.