Tuesday, 27 December 2011

2011 round-up (part two)

After compiling the round-up for months January-March, here is the second part including months April-June.

Goal machine, Izale McLeod
The biggest news of the month was that of Martin Allen’s departure – after only 18 days as manager, despite being contracted until the end of the season. Never mind his claim: “call me Mart”, most Bees’ fans were calling him every name under the sun, as this wasn’t the first time he’d left us in the lurch at a crucial part of the campaign – this time, joining League1 strugglers, Notts County. The man to take over, club legend Giuliano Grazioli; saying of the post “it’s an honour”. Lawrie Sanchez came in to act as assistant manager to Graz for the rest of the season. The club did, however, report Notts County to the Football League and Football Association for their illegal approach of Allen.
A bit of silverware came Barnet’s way, albeit in the form of the Herts Senior Cup. After beating Stevenage (2–1) at Underhill, Barnet were the pride of Hertfordshire. A goal in each half from Charlie Stimson ensured the victory, meaning we had won the trophy for the first time in four years.
With the end of the season almost at a close there were of course more injuries scuppering our fight for survival. John Dunleavy who had previously signed a loan deal until the end of the season was the victim of a freak accident at the training ground; Steve Kabba was the other casualty with his re-occurring knee injury.
02/04              Burton v Barnet                                (W)      4–1
09/04              Barnet v Crewe                                (W)      2–1
16/04              Bury v Barnet                                    (L)       0–2
23/04              Gillingham v Barnet                         (W)      4–2
25/04              Barnet v Oxford                                (D)       2–2
30/04              Accrington Stanley v Barnet           (L)        1–3
            10 points from 18
Goals For: 13            Goals Against: 11
Pitch invasion - great escape part two
The highlight of a long, tough season, without a doubt, was preserving League status for the second year running on the final day of the season. A victory against Port Vale was boosted massively with the news that Lincoln City had lost at home to Aldershot (3–0). The celebrations at the end of the game will probably never be forgotten with players and fans on the pitch together – Grazioli had mastered the great escape!
The usual end of season players’ party and awards took place the following day. Joe Devera won the Player of the Year award, as well as Most Improved Player; Sam Deering, too, won two awards – Young Player of the Season and Goal of the Season, for one his strikes against champions elect, Chesterfield.
Lawrie Sanchez agreed a deal with the club to be manager for the 2011/12 campaign, with announced ‘dream team’ to be complete with Grazioli as his assistant.  Michael Stone also decided to continue his role as first team coach.
With the close season now in full-swing, the first players were shipped out as the new management team drew up its retained list. The players to go were: Glen Southam, Jake Cole, Rossi Jarvis, Charlie Stimson, Danny Kelly and Reece Yorke. The first players to sign new deals were also announced: Sam Deering and Mark Hughes, much to the delight of the Bees’ faithful.
07/05              Barnet v Port Vale                            (W)      1–0
            3 points from 3
Goals for: 1                Goals Against: 0      

Players and fans celebrating - and a steward casually in my way!
A reasonably quiet month was boosted by the fact that goal hero (with 14 goals in 25 starts), Izale McLeod was set to sign a year’s deal as a thank you to the club for giving him the opportunity to shine again. In his words: “taking [him] on when [he] was a forgotten man” concluding “I owe Barnet a lot”. The good news kept on coming with midfielder Mark Byrne also signing on, following his two successful loan spells.
After his two awards and a commanding season, albeit in a bad back four, Joe Devera left the club for Swindon Town – one of the four clubs to be relegated. He became the club’s first signing after they had previously made headlines for appointing Paulo Di Canio manager.
Further bad news was announced that the traditional money-making pre-season friendly with Arsenal was to be cancelled. The only reason given – because Underhill only plays venue to four of Arsenal’s reserve games in the coming season. Instead, the Gunners toured Asia.
The squad also reported back to the Hive this month for the first time for pre-season training; only one goalkeeper made up the squad, with a further 15 outfield players.

Part three of the 2011 round-up will include months July-September and should feature in a couple of days time.

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