Rough guide to... Barnet

Cod Almighty | Article

by Chris Mills

6 August 2007

In a nutshell
1471, the Battle of Barnet. Pivotal in the Wars of the Roses. Their pitch has never really recovered.

Barnet are north London's forgotten cousin. Play in an amber kind of orange colour. Nicknamed the Bees. Have a rubbish ground. Many years of non-League football. Eight years of League football (kind of). Tony Cottee used to play for them. What a player he was. And I thought a Barnet was just an afro-Caribbean haircut. How naive of me. There's a whole world out there.

Goodwill hunting
They appear to have varying degrees of beef with Enfield, Watford and Leyton Orient. Well, basically, if you're in a kind of 30-mile radius of them, they'll dislike you. But hang on – if that's the case, why do they bizarrely pick on Runcorn as well? Now I might be wrong, but if my geography A-level taught me anything it was that Runcorn is in Cheshire. So shall we just increase that radius to 190 miles? In which case they hate us too. Well, we have taken an embarrassing amount of points off them in the last couple of seasons.

It was probably a non-League thing anyway. Personal joke. Believe it or not, Barnet do have friends. Well maybe not so plural, Arsene Wenger to be precise. Every summer he takes his boys to Barnet for a pre-season jolly and every summer his boys beat them.

...unknown? OK, now I'm the one being mean. They've been around somewhere, lingering like a young Bore at the far stick, for a hundred and eighteen years now. They just haven't done much. In fact their most notable achievement to date might actually be their most recent, the 2004–05 promotion season from the Conference. They were literally top all year, leaving the rest of the field doubled over with a stitch, hands on knees, gasping for air.

It was Barry Fry who achieved promotion to the Football League first time round, though, back in 1992, before buggering off to pastures greener, much like everyone else really. Jimmy Greaves, Ray Clemence, Alan Pardew, Mark Lawrenson, Linvoy Primus, Junior Agogogogogo and even Des Hamilton to name a few have all donned the famous amber shirt, before realising their careers wouldn't amount to anything if they didn't get out quick. Des Hamilton's career still hasn't amounted to much.

Believe it or not, Barnet once received £800,000 for Dougie Freedman. Presumably Crystal Palace were still feeling the effects of a Christmas party or someone's just added a few noughts on Wikipedia for a laugh. Although this is the same club that paid £5m for Ade Akinbiyi, so you never quite know, do you.

Barnet's chairman, Mr Kleanthous, is Greek and is worth a bob or two. However, he currently seems to be more worried about a £7m revamp of Underhill than he is about the manager's need for players. He may be wealthy but ultimately he'll never be as flash as Barnet's previous chairman, Stan Flashman himself.

Ins and outs
For Barnet's purposes I'm renaming this section 'Outs', because that's where everyone appears to be going. Recent stars such as Tresor Kandol, Nick Bailey, Anthony Charles and Olly 'Son of Clive' Allen have all departed. They do appear to have been raiding Luton's recycling bins this summer though, bringing in Michael Leary and Rob Beckwith on free transfers from the Hatters. I wonder if they found Michael Reddy in there?

Oh, and former player Mark Stein has re-joined. No, not as a player. As a physiotherapist, obviously. It's all the rage these days. That's it. One thinks boss Paul Fairclough might have a phone permanently stuck to his ear by now. Or at least an advert in the local paper. It worked for Discoveries.

Their expectations
To be honest, I doubt they have many. A shrinking squad which lacks quality, heavy pre-season defeats to the likes of non-League Farnborough and a constant conveyor belt for the trialists of this world wouldn't fill me with confidence either. However, like us, they did finish last season quite strongly with wins against Stockport, Hartlepool, Rochdale and Wycombe(some of them were even away from home), so they might try and push on early this time around.

Our expectations
Last year I predicted that Bristol Rovers would finish middle to bottomish. They are now playing their football in the third division. So, at the risk of Tony Butcher calling the hell out of me again, I'll stick my neck out and predict an even more vague lower-half-of-the-table finish for Barnet in 2008. So now they'll probably win promotion, somehow.

Grimsby's great expectations should return against them though. Six more points and a load of goals, anyone?

Spotters' guide
The High Barnet hills are alive with the sound of... religion. Yes, that's right.Trip Advisor ("Get the truth. Then go") recommends all of two attractions in Barnet: the Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat that offers classes and 'live-in' retreats, and the Milarepa Centre, which... kind of does the same sort of thing.

It's alright if you're into that sort of thing, isn't it. To be honest I'd rather watch Des Hamilton's career best bits on DVD until my eyes bleed. That Belle Vue sending-off on a really long loop.

User comments!
Barnet fan Jim adds: Great Barnet write-up again lads. More of the same for us then, should I torture myself again this year? On a Tuesday? Just browsing over those match reports gives me horrific flashbacks. Were we really that bad? Worse... The 3-0 'I want to leave at half time but just cannot' game and the 5-0 'I did leave at 3-0' leave scars. How many do you fancy this year?