Opposing views: Barnet fan says they will struggle but survive

Opposing views: Barnet fan says they will struggle but survive

Barnet fan BARNETJOHN from the onlybarnet.com website says his side’s high hopes at the start of the season have been dashed…

A string of injuries and a dreadful run of form [means]  we’ll struggle but survive to finish in about nineteenth place…

Thanks to REP for asking the questions to fans in onlybarnet.com forum.

About the fan – BARNETJOHN

I’ve supported Barnet for just over thirty years. I go to most games home and away if I am in the country. One thing I will say is that supporting Barnet is rarely boring – in my time we’ve have had four promotions, three relegations, three last-day escapes, four play-off defeats, three last-day ‘missing out on promotions’, FA Cup ties at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, Edgar Davids as player manager, staved off bankruptcy, nearly been kicked out the league, had two stadium developments fall through at planning stage, and we’ve beaten Premier League Manchester City at home…

How will Barnet do this season?

Despite our high hopes of a top-half finish at the start of the season, a combination of a string of injuries (the worst I have ever known in 30 plus years) and a dreadful run of form has led to a downward revision. I reckon we’ll struggle but survive to finish in about nineteenth place.

How is the manager doing, any danger players?

Well, he’s only been in post for a few days. Given the dip in form and double digit winless streak, I think we probably needed a change and to bring in someone with experience. Mark McGhee seems like a good appointment for our needs.

As for danger players,  the obvious man is John Akinde whose prodigious goalscoring has been vital for us over the past three seasons. However, he has only started one game this season due to injury. Local boy Mauro Vilhete is playing well at the moment- he usually plays in midfield and can be pretty dangerous.

How are the board doing?

Well, how long have I got? Fans debate this long and hard. I’ll try and summarise. Basically our chairman of 23 years, Tony Kleanthous, has moved the club away from its historic home, in the town of Barnet albeit after two earlier stadium plans in the borough were rejected at national and local planning stages respectively.

We’ve got a really nice modern stadium, but it’s not in the town of Barnet and so attendances haven’t picked up much. That causes mixed feelings amongst fans. Off the pitch, our chairman has done a good job, in my view, in stabilising the club financially, and developing the training complex at the Hive into a good way of earning money for the club with other activities (training pitches, event spaces, etc).

However, many fans complain with about high ticket prices, the matchday experience/atmosphere, and a general feeling that the football club can feel second-fiddle to other stuff (turning one half of a nice bar into a chicken restaurant is one example). And despite Tony’s long held ambitions since he took over, we haven’t (yet) progressed beyond being a bottom-half of League Two club.

In a nutshell it depends what your benchmark is and what you think the club is capable of. But he comes in the bar after matches and is happy to chat with fans, which is appreciated by just about everyone.

Can you tell us a few things we may not know about Barnet?

Our early nickname was “The Dentals” because way back in the day our club came about as the result of a merger with a works team from a local dental supplies factory (Alston Works). Rumour had it that the club got around amateur rules by offering promising players a job at the factory.

Our most legendary supporter is Steve Percy who has missed only one Barnet game in past forty plus years. He was asked to be best man at his brother’s wedding but turned down the invite because it clashed with a Barnet game.

He does point out that he did still go to the evening do.

Can you recommend any blogs or forums?

Along with onlybarnet.com you should check out loudmouth BFCs YouTube channel for some entertaining and well edited vlogs from each game. It chronicles the pain, suffering and occasional ecstasy of being a Barnet fan.

Any memories of previous games with Vale?

Most Barnet fans would probably pick out the 2011 win at Underhill which secured Football League status. However, I was abroad at the time, so I can’t really choose that. I would go for the game at Vale Park in August 1993, in which Port Vale went down to ten men after nine minutes, yet went on to the win the game 6-0. We had a threadbare side assembled on a shoestring after nearly going bust in the summer and having our promotion winning squad disbanded with no transfer fees after the football league annulled all their contracts. 50 minutes into the game, with the Bees 4-0 down, someone started a rendition of “Gary Phillips Black and Amber Army”, that just went on and on and on. As the clocked ticked by, we went six-down, but the song continued, uninterrupted until the final whistle, nearly 45 minutes later. I remember the Vale keeper that day [Paul Musselwhite – OVF editor] turning round to applaud us after the game.

A score prediction and attendance?

I guess we’ll bring about 150 visiting fans and I think we might get a point under Mark McGhee, so I’ll go for 1-1 with a first goal of the season for John Akinde.

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