Friday, 30 September 2011

Fan input: conclusion

Part three of three.
After hearing from fans their favourite and most popular players, I thought it’d be a good idea to conclude my previous two posts and see who was voted the favourite and best player overall.
This is a bit more abrupt than I was hoping, but there isn’t too much to say about it; other than the fact, because of players tied on the same number of votes, rather than being the ultimate 10, it’s 15.
So, after combining the results from both posts, according to my fellow Barnet fans, the 15 look like this:
1          Giuliano Grazioli
2          Gary Phillips
3          Dougie Freedman
=          Liam Hatch
5          Albert Adomah
=          Linvoy Primus
7          Nicky Bailey
=          Lee Harrison
9          Jason Puncheon
=          Andy Clarke
=          Gary Bull
12        Simon King
=          Maik Taylor
14        Darren Currie
=          Kenny Lowe

I’d like to also say a massive thank you to everyone that helped me out with both posts.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Fan input: favourite players

Part two of three.

As is quite obvious now, I’m always interested in what other fans have to say – whether that be my fellow Bees, or supporters of League 2 in general. After completing my own All-Time Bees XI, and then hearing who my fellow supporters would include in their own top 10s, I decided upon finding out the most popular players from times gone by.

For some, there is a possible overlap between this and my last post, as understandably favourite players could be those who do well. But for me, this isn’t the case – there are many other reasons I’d consider a player to my favourite. Whether it be the effort they put in on match day (even if it is to no avail), or the way they endear themselves to the fans, I could probably rattle a list of at least 50 players from my time going to Underhill that I could consider a ‘favourite’.  In fact, I found it difficult just narrowing it down to the 10, and may even do a further piece on my personal favourite 20 or so!

The response to my last post was massive and when asking Barnet fans of their all time favourite 10 players, I wasn’t disappointed – the shortlist contained well over 100 names (four pages of A4, in fact!).

So, according to my fellow Barnet fans, the most popular ever 20 players to play for the club are:

1          Gary Phillips
2          Giuliano Grazioli
=          Liam Hatch
4          Albert Adomah
=          Dougie Freedman
=          Lee Harrison
=          Linvoy Primus
8          Nicky Bailey
=          Andy Clarke
=          Ian Hendon
11        Gary Bull
=          Darren Currie
=          Simon King
=          Scott McGleish
=          Izale McLeod
=          Jason Puncheon
=          Sam Stockley
=          Paul Wilson
=          Ismail Yakubu
20        Ben Strevens

Part three will continue tomorrow, and will see both ‘favourite’ and ‘best’ players combined, to see who is the ‘greatest ever’ Barnet player.

I’d like to also say a massive thank you to everyone that helped me out with both posts.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Fan input: best players

Part one of three.
As is quite obvious now, I’m always interested in what other fans have to say – whether that be my fellow Bees, or supporters of League 2 in general. After having to do my greatest ever starting XI and subs for the programme last season (which you can of course read here), I was interested in seeing who others would include in theirs. The thing is, I think, trying to pick a squad of 11, which is a lot harder than just naming the best players you have seen play. So I decided upon removing a player from my initial line-up and asking others for their best 10 players of all time. To me, this was really interesting, as although I have been going to watch Barnet play since the age of four, there were so many names I had completely forgotten about (and others I couldn’t physically remember for being too young!).
I’m surprised with the response I got, which of course I am very grateful for. There were well over 50 players shortlisted and because of so many players tied with the same amount of votes, I’ve had to change the results to a ‘best 20’.
So, according to my fellow Barnet fans, the best ever 20 players to play for the club are:
1          Giuliano Grazioli
2          Dougie Freedman
=          Lee Harrison
4          Albert Adomah
=          Nicky Bailey
=          Gary Bull
=          Linvoy Primus
=          Jason Puncheon
=          Maik Taylor
10        Andy Clarke
=          Simon King
12        Darren Currie
=          Liam Hatch
=          Ian Hendon
=          Kenny Lowe
=          Gary Phillips
17        Sean Devine
=          Paul Showler
=          Dean Sinclair
20        Scott McGleish
Part two will continue tomorrow, and will see the ‘most popular’ players to put on the black and amber shirt.
I’d like to also say a massive thank you to everyone that helped me out with both posts.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Goals I’ll never forget

Goals. We all love them. Maybe not so much when they go against you. With Saturday’s demolition still in mind, I thought I’d look back at a few goals I’ll probably never forget. I’d been meaning to blog for a while and after the weekend’s display, I (and most likely, all my fellow Bees) need cheering up! I’m not usually one for remembering goals, score lines and the like, so there must be something special about the following four that make them stick in the mind. I spent hours looking for copies of these goals online and didn't have much luck, which sort of spoils it a bit, but still...
The ‘was it intentional?’ goal

Sam Deering V Chesterfield (2 – 2)
Part of the circus that was Barnet Football Club saw the return of Martin Allen who began his reign of three games with a draw against Champions elect, Chesterfield. Super Sammy Deering scoring both to grab a well-earned point and win last campaign’s ‘goal of the season’ award. The second was an absolute beauty, although I’m still unsure whether he meant it or not – whipping the ball in from the right corner area and slotting into the far top corner with the Spireite’s keeper looking bewildered and off the pitch! I don’t think we’ve ever celebrated a draw so much…
The ‘dead-ball wonder’ goal
Jason Puncheon V Bradford (2 – 1)
A free kick from 35 yards out in the dying stages of this game early in the season saw us win our first match of the 07/08 campaign. With the score level and looking set to stay that way, man of the moment, Jason Puncheon stepped up to score a wonder goal. He had previously hit the bar from a similar position, with only five minutes remaining – so was undoubtedly going to step up again. It’s always great to win a game in added time, but with a goal so magical makes it all the more special. JP only ever scored amazing goals, and it’s no real surprise he’s getting his chance in the Premier League.
The ‘justice’ goal
Jake Hyde V Notts County (1 – 0)
Notts County, the most unpopular team in the league during the season. Munto finance took over, Sven was back (albeit, shortly) on the English football scene, and a team with Lee Hughes involved will always prove to be despised. Add to that Neal Bishop who left the Bees in somewhat negative circumstances and you’ve got a game on your hands. Jake Hyde started on the bench, but joined the action in the last minute, before the fourth official waved four minutes on the board. The saying ‘right place, right time’ couldn’t be more apt when Hydey pounced on a loose ball in the final seconds, wrapping up three points to put past Kasper Schmeichel. Oh, and if anyone remembers the words to his song – let me know! I only know the tune…
Sven watches on.
The ‘big stage’ goal
Dean Sinclair V Manchester United (4 – 1)
Yet again, ‘that’ night gets a mention! It may have ended up being a mere consolation in what began a disastrous evening for us – but the fact that we managed to score against Man United at Old Trafford will probably stay with me forever. Even more amazing when you see where the man in question, Dean Sinclair, is now playing – and well, the fact of the matter is, he isn’t! I still remember the goal as if it were yesterday – a pass from Grazioli after pressurising Gerard Pique, who slipped, allowing Deano to put the ball into an empty net, after rounding Tim Howard in the United goal. Again, although the writing was on the wall, the elation from the fans when we got the goal was something special – and definitely deserved for the effort the 10-men put in.

The day I'll never forget.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Two minutes with… Oxford United

The latest instalment of ‘Two minutes with…’ comes from the point of view of Oxford United – Saturday’s visitors to Underhill. One to forget for us, I think; although it was my first ever tweet-up! Thanks to Joe O’Callaghan (aka @oxbeav) for his input, and his general sarcasm throughout the day!

Barnet 0 – 2 Oxford United
(Heslop ’33, Davis ’38)
Attendance 2812 (away 1049)

How did you get to the game?
I travelled from Bicester to London travel card for the day thingy. £29.50 I believe it to be. The initial plan was to leave Bicester at 10.40 to make it to London for about 12.20 – but I woke up at 10.30 and ended up arriving later than planned.
What did you do pre-match?
At Euston, I met this Barnet lass [charming, Joe!] and her boyfriend at the Britannia pub and had a cheeky fosters and watched them devour some chips. We then went from Euston to High Barnet on the underground, making it just in time to miss kick off.
Where did you sit/stand in the ground?
I stood on the East Terrace - starting off by the mesh wire segregation. I could see no Barnet fans over 15 and the little shits were losing every argument/chant that was going. They severely embarrassed themselves. They were also quiet for about half of the second 45 before springing into life for about five minutes. So second half I saw a mate and relocated to where he was standing.
What did you make of the game?
The game was okay, not the best we've ever played and Barnet weren't the most special team I'll see all season. However I was happy with our goals and our second was class. Barnet’s tactics completely baffled me with such a high line and two slow centre backs – Potter was having a laugh beating them for pace every single time. We'll beat better teams than Barnet and lose to worse.
Was the scoreline a fair reflection?
I would say so. The referee was terrible and both teams feel this, as he was completely inconsistent in his decisions. But the scoreline, yes. Our defence wasn't going to open up and we can always count on Heslop or Davis to score.
Who, in your opinion was man of the match?
From Oxford I would say Michael Duberry. Izale McLeod, the best striker this division has (on current form), wasn't given an inch and the one he got, Clarke made a good save. Barnet's keeper (Brill) made a vital save against Beano and did the best he could in front of a leaky defence.
Who have you got next and how do you think you'll get on?
We play Accrington Stanley at the Kassam on the 24th. We've won two in a row and I've found that wearing my cardigan and replica 11/12 Oxford shirt is a winning formula and due to massive superstition-related stress it will be worn.

Thanks Joe

My final word:
Not a lot to say really. I didn’t think we played well against Plymouth last Tuesday – but managed to get a result. We played against a much better side in Oxford, but to that same standard, and it was only fair we were on the losing end. The referee didn’t help matters – Wright should have been sent off after pulling Izale’s shirt in the first half – sending him off on the 92nd minute was too little, too late! I can’t help but think Sanchez doesn’t rate Deering; why else would he only be on the bench again?! He needs (and deserves!) to be starting. Again, Marshall was largely ineffective, and not sure why or how Kabba (or Owusu) miss out on starting places to Taylor. We were bright for the first 20 minutes, but after that it was same old. Ah well, onwards and upwards!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Two minutes with… Plymouth Argyle

Tuesday night saw recently-relegated Plymouth Argyle at Underhill, in what was already being discussed, at this early stage of the season, as a six-pointer. Both teams had already failed to get the ball rolling on the pitch, but at the front of most minds was the trouble Argyle are having off-the-pitch. Despite the predicament they currently find themselves in, our main aim was to get that elusive home win and get the points on the board to climb the table. However, if you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow FansReunited, or check their website. The Argyle fan I had the pleasure on interviewing this time round is Edward Murray – Twitter: @ArgyleEd

Barnet 2 – 0 Plymouth Argyle
(McLeod ‘7, Leach ’64)
Attendance 1849 (away 439)

How did you get to the game?
I came on the tube, I live in London so Barnet was one of the local games this season and easy to get to (although not too much fun, the Northern Line during rush hour really isn't the most pleasant way to travel).
What did you do pre-match?
I had a couple of pints in the Old Red Lion, with the way things are going at the Argyle you really need some alcohol in your system before watching us play to make it bearable, and had a bit of a chat with a few other Argyle fans, quite a depressing experience nowadays. Got into the ground about 10 minutes before kick-off and bought a burger and read the programme.
Where did you sit/stand in the ground?
In the away terrace. I liked it there – the view's not great (and I always prefer being behind a goal) but you can make a decent atmosphere and standing on a terrace really is a lot better than any all seater stand.
What did you make of the game?
It wasn't very good. Barnet didn't look great at all, their passing was very poor and they didn't look threatening but our defence was so poor that every time they went forward I feared conceding – our back four didn't seem to have any idea what they were doing. We passed the ball about fairly well in midfield but we were as inept going forward as we were at the back, we just cannot score. We didn't create as many real chances as we should have and it was usually our fault, too many errors were made, misplaced passes and shots from long range when there were better options available, but we couldn't do anything with the chances we did have. We're really very poor upfront. Neither team really impressed me – both sides could do with a lot of improving. The only enjoyable part of the evening was our away support which was really rather good, we understand this isn't the fault of the manager or players and so gave them our full backing. It was good to be a part of it.
Was the scoreline a fair reflection?
I feel we were a little unlucky to concede the goals we did and we should have had a penalty late on but Barnet were the better side, we certainly didn't deserve to win it but with a bit more luck we might have got a draw but we really can't complain too much about losing, it was a fair result.
Who, in your opinion was man of the match?
No one stood out to me for either side. I know that's a pretty poor answer but I didn't see anyone do anything particularly impressive.
Who have you got next and how do you think you'll get on?
Southend away. We're going to lose again. this team is desperately low on confidence and morale, entirely understandable given the circumstances. They've not been paid; they're mostly very young and inexperienced and have yet to win a game. I don't see us scoring a goal let alone winning a game, we're in very deep trouble.

Thanks Ed

My final word:
The only thing that mattered at the end of the day, on our part, was three points on the board – as a spectacle, the match was not all there; scrappy and desperate long balls. The only real difference between the sides was the scoreline, and crucial finishing. In the first half, Argyle certainly played the better football, looking good going forward (particularly on the counter attack) – just having the inability to finish. The defence mainly used long ball tactics to try and reach McLeod and Taylor, who were starting upfront, but when they did try and play it around it was through the middle, as opposed to the typical wing play we are used to seeing – with Sam Deering only starting from the bench again! Second half we played a lot better, but still it seems we will need to up our game before Oxford’s visit on Saturday. Credit has to go to the Plymouth fans though – arriving in numbers, considering their off-the-field problems, as well as singing throughout the game.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Bigger and better things? Like others, your time will come

So it was no surprise that clubs in the summer window were after our winger, Mark Marshall. A number of quality performances last season, as well as the skill and pace he has in abundance was quite clearly noted by a number of teams on scouting missions. After the closure of the transfer window it was revealed that the club had in fact turned down a bid for Mark, who, in essence, is one of our key players – from League One outfit, Charlton Athletic – despite numerous further enquiries from the Championship and League One. The offer rejected because it was “far from what he is worth”, and “not even a proper offer” – Sanchez then went on to say about the midfielder “I have said it before that he will play at a higher level in the future”.
Therefore, I thought it’d only be apt to look back at five ex-Bees that have gone on to bigger and better things. Of course there have been a fair few, but I tried to find various players from my last 17 years as a Barnet fan. To clarify, these are in no other order than alphabetical!

Nicky Bailey
“If there’s anybody else out there, that scores goals and got ginger hair, we’ve got Nicky Bailey…” – except we haven’t anymore, of course. Nicky joined us back in 2004, in our Conference days from non-league outfit Sutton United and is one of very few players taken from outside the Football League who has made it reasonably big – particularly when you look from the perspective of recent years and some of the garbage (may be a little harsh?) we’ve found ourselves acquiring! Nicky was definitely a fans favourite, and in my opinion had one of the better central midfield partnerships we have seen (with Dean Sinclair). Nicky ended up leaving in 2007, when he joined Southend for a sum of £175,000. Since his move he’s only progressed up the Leagues – joining Charlton Athletic, where he was their player of the season (albeit, they were relegated to League One!), and now Middlesbrough. He scored his first ever goal for Middlesbrough – and his first in over two years of football – at the weekend, in their win against Burnley. The £10,000 man from Sutton is now worth millions, not too bad for an ex-Bee!
Dougie Freedman
I’m too young to remember Dougie Freedman really – he played for Barnet back in 1994, his debut club as a professional, young footballer (the same year, in fact, that I started going – at the young age of four years old!). He’s another to go from strength to strength though, which is why he definitely deserves a place on this list. In his debut season, he became the club’s top scorer, and a continuation of good form in the second drew interest from other clubs. He signed from Barnet to Crystal Palace for £800,000 – making him still the club’s record for transfer fees received. Spending two spells at Palace where he was (and still is!) a club legend, he went on to play for other teams including Notts Forest and Southend, where the goals continued. That second spell at the Eagles was an eight-year tenure, where he ended his time with a testimonial for his services to the club. He continues to stay in South East London as the club’s manager – but continues to ‘big us up’ in various forms of broadcast and print media!
Linvoy Primus
Again, like Dougie, Linvoy joined the Bees back in 1994 – when I was more interested when it would be half time, and if I’d be getting more Opal Fruits! – so don’t really recall him as well as some of the others on this list. In his first two seasons with the club he was runner up in the ‘Player of the Season’ award, in the latter year, he was second place to a certain goalkeeper who will be mentioned later on! Despite a rocky three seasons with the club, Linvoy scored more goals at his time with Barnet than any other club (seven; not a bad feat for a defender!). After leaving the Bees, Linvoy joined Reading for a fee of £500,000 – which was where he spent the following three years. However, it most likely his time at Portsmouth where he is best known – joining in 2000 and spending nine years before retiring due to a knee injury. His testimonial was in 2010, and Portsmouth even named one of the stands at Fratton Park after him – in memory of his services to the club.
Jason Puncheon
Jason Puncheon, the much loved winger has the incredible feat of scoring in every tier of the Football League – Barnet of League Two, Southampton and MK Dons of League One, Millwall of the Championship and Blackpool of the Premiership – not bad going! Puncheon joined Barnet back in 2006, and made himself at home almost immediately becoming a huge hit with fans. He scored a number of goals, the majority of which, could only be described as ‘wonder goals’; that 35-yard free kick against Bradford will stay in the mid for a long time to come; as well as being named in the PFA team of the season, at the end of the 2007/08 campaign and the FA Cup’s player of the third round, that same year. He joined Plymouth Argyle for a sum of £250,000 – but his time there was largely unsuccessful, joining MK Dons on loan three times throughout his tenure with the Pilgrims. He then went on to join Southampton, and despite a number of appearances since 2010, he’s enjoyed a number of further loan spells – at Millwall, and then-Premiership, Blackpool. This season he’s joined QPR for half a season on loan, again proving that he is more than capable to play in the top flight of English football. I think it’s only fair to say: we made him!
Maik Taylor
Maik Taylor joined Barnet (then in what was the third division) from Non-League Farnborough for a minimal fee of £700. In one and a half seasons with the Bees, he managed to rack up 70 appearances; as well as winning the Player of the Season award at the end of the 1996/97 campaign. Upon leaving Underhill, Maik made the massive step-up to the Premier League when he joined Southampton for £500,000. Although, his time there was limited and he spent the majority of the time on the bench, he joined Fulham for £800,000. His spell at Craven Cottage was a lot more popular, and one of two long spells in top flight football – the other, more recently, at Birmingham City, where he initially went on loan. As well as making it to the Premier League, Maik also made it onto the International Circuit – as Northern Ireland’s first choice goalkeeper. Despite being born to a German mother, he was eligible to play for any of the home nations – and has racked up over 80 appearances since his International debut in 1999.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Two minutes with… not Accrington Stanley

A little bit different this time round as not only were there barely any Stanley fans at Underhill on Saturday afternoon (despite the number released officially by the club - pretty sure there were under 60!), but I was unable to find one of the few anywhere! With the international break over the weekend meaning the Premier League and Championship out of action, ‘two minutes with…’ this week comes from the neutral perspective of a Spurs fan who decided upon watching the Bees face Stanley – although after the game, he probably wishes he hadn’t! Follow Luke Stubbings on Twitter here.

Barnet 0 – 0 Accrington Stanley
Attendance 2380 (away 182)

How did you get to the game?
Drove up with my mate Nick which didn’t take too long.
What did you do pre-match?
Well considering we got to Barnet at 2pm we decided to go bookies and place a few bets and go grab a bite to eat in the Barnet grill kebab place.
Where did you sit/stand in the ground?
Managed to grab tickets in the south family stand and sat front row right behind the goal.
What did you make of the game?
Started off cagey with both teams obviously not wanting to go a goal down early. I thought the game would have opened up once Accrington Stanley went down to 10 men but fair play to them for managing to stay in the game. The game wasn’t one for the neutral as it carried on being scrappy and both teams kept hoofing the ball back and forth. There weren’t many clear-cut chances in the game but Accrington probably had the better chances when they hit the post and another close range effort which went over.
Was the scoreline a fair reflection?
All in all probably yes but Barnet should of made the early sending off count but they didn’t.
Who, in your opinion was man of the match?
Number 5 at the back (Darren Dennehy). My mate and I both said he was immense – he defended well. He has the potential to playing higher up the divisions but I’m sure that will come in time. Very well played.

Thanks Luke

My final word:
Disappointing would sum it up well – a definite case of two points dropped, particularly given the one man advantage for over half the game, which was doubled towards the end. We definitely missed the presence of Izale McLeod upfront, and despite his best efforts, Steve Kabba just didn’t receive the service he needed. Mark Marshall, the usual key player in the side looked uninterested following the rejection in the week to a potential big move! Sam Deering on the other wing, in my opinion was wrongfully substituted – possibly the best player on the pitch. On a positive, it was great to see Darren Dennehy back in action – look forward to seeing more of him – and at least we kept a clean sheet! Still our home form is disappointing with two points from a potential nine.

Friday, 2 September 2011

The ins and outs of 2011/12

With the transfer window well and truly shut now, I thought it’d be best to keep up to date with what’s being happening at Barnet. Unfortunately, there was no such drama as was witnessed in the Premier League; in fact, it was reasonably quiet – with nerves kicking in over rumours, which were soon put to bed. The loan window, however, opens next week and will remain open until the fourth Thursday in November, in the case of this year, the 25th – I’ll hopefully update this during the next window in January.
August window
Dean Brill
> Oldham Athletic
Goalkeeper Dean Brill initially joined on a two week trial but signed a contract, replacing Jake Cole, who left at the end of last season. He quickly cemented his place as first choice keeper, ahead of young Liam O’Brien.
Mark Byrne
> Nottingham Forest
Mark Byrne joined after being released from Nottingham Forest. He played twice on-loan with the club last season, with an unfortunate injury ruling him out for a couple of months and a return to his parent club. Whilst on loan, he was at one point the club’s top scorer and is a popular choice with fans, who were happy to see him sign a permanent contract.
Sam Deering
> Oxford United
Another of last season’s loanees is Sam Deering, who joined the club after being released from Oxford United. Like Byrne, LSD was a massive hit with fans whilst on loan, so it was no real surprise to see him join the club on a permanent basis. His runs down the wings and domination of defenders is something to look forward come match time.
Exodus Geohaghon
> Free agent
Big defender Exodus joined after his release from Peterborough United in August. He initially came on trial but signed a one month contract following its success. The Rory Delap of League 2, his long throw is weapon to frighten defenders, especially in the penalty area.
Danny Senda
> Free agent
Like Exodus, Danny Senda also joined the club as a free agent, following his release from relegated Bristol Rovers.
Jake Cole
< Plymouth Argyle
Tom Coulton
< Free agent
Joe Devera
< Swindon Town
Rossi Jarvis
< Cambridge United
Danny Kelly
< Free agent
Glen Southam
< Dover Athletic
Charlie Stimson
< Free agent
Reece Yorke
< Free agent
In and out!
Jason Price and Ryan Watts
Both Jason Price and Ryan Watts joined the club on one month contracts, which were cancelled at the end of last month. Jason Price made seven starts, scoring once. It was obvious his contract had been cancelled when he was left out of the 3-1 win against Colchester United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Ryan Watts, on the other hand, never played – suffering with a hamstring injury when he arrived, which still hasn’t healed.