Barry Fry Years - Part One
Click on the years above to navigate through the history.
So far we have chartered the history since the formation of the club, up until the mid seventies. From here on the history gets more detailed, which is largely (if not completely) down to the book written by Tony Thornton called "The Club That Wouldn't Die" (ISBN 0-9523862-0-8 Tiger Publications). I understand there are still a few copies of this excellent book left, but I'm not sure if there are any in the club shop. If you want a copy and have trouble finding it, please email us and we'll see what we can do.
We would be grateful to anyone who can add to anything written here. Apart from pointing out any inaccuracies, we would be pleased to receive contributions so that this history can be "fleshed out" even more. For that reason, the details on this page are likely to be changed as more information is unearthed.
Please contact us if there is anything you can help us with.
It's a Funny Old Game...
76 to 79
In 1976, former player - Billy Meadows, became Barnet's manager. His first season (76/77) took Barnet to the Southern League Premier and he famously signed former England player - Jimmy Greaves.
The first season (77/78) in the Premier League was a success with a seventh place finish (Player of the Year - Jimmy Greaves), but the 78/79 season was not so successful and Billy Meadows resigned after Barnet lost 3-0 to Woking in the FA Cup. The immediate replacement had narrowly lost out to Meadows in 1976 - one Barry Fry, who was a scout for Everton at this point.
Barry Fry made some changes to the side, saying goodbye to experienced but ageing players and brought in younger players from lower leagues. Although Barnet only finished thirteenth, they secured a place in the new Alliance League Premier Division, which was an amalgam of the top teams from the Southern and Northern Leagues.
The 79/80 season was not a roaring success, at some points relegation looked a possibility. Barnet's most famous player, Jimmy Greaves, also moved on, but undeterred Fry said: "I am banking on youth and enthusiasm, and at 39 Jimmy doesn't come into that category." (Barry was, and still is, five years younger than Jimmy.)
The 80/81 season started well, with Barnet reaching fourth place, only to be followed by a plunge in form and back to relegation trouble. Goalkeeper and future manager, Gary Phillips, made his debut this season. With a final position of fourth from bottom (matching the previous season), which was one above the relegation zone, serious doubts of Barry's management abilities were being raised.
During the 81/82 season Barnet's fortunes did not improve. Their first victory took fourteen games to arrive, with Barnet lying third from bottom. There were less than 500 coming to Underhill, and they were demanding Barry to quit. Long serving chairman, Dave Underwood, resigned and was replaced by Ted Hennessey who had been on the board for six years.
Meanwhile, Barry Fry played the transfer market. He had been trying to find players since his arrival that would bring success to the club, but many of them had not lived up to expectations. This can be typified by Steve Adams, who was signed from Slough. He only had one match in his three days at Barnet, before returning! By November, 28 players had been used in 21 league games and the side were second from bottom.
Things were brighter in the FA Cup, however. Barnet had managed to get through to the third round, and were rewarded with a home-tie against Brighton, who were riding high in the First Division at this point (As in, the FIRST division, there was no Premiership then). Match of the Day cameras witnessed an exciting 0-0 draw. The replay at Brighton predictably ended in a 3-1 defeat, but Brighton paid £30,000 for Barnet Left Back - Graham Pierce, who had obviously impressed them. After some reasonable league performances, Barry was named January's Manager of the Month - things were looking up.
Inevitably, Barnet slumped once more into the relegation zone. By March they had not won at home since November, and Fry was booed regularly. Resignations by Club Chairman - Hennessy (to be replaced by Tom Hill) and Coach - Colin Meldrum did not improve matters. Once again, Barnet survived relegation by one place - although it was all down to the last match and depended on others losing theirs!
During the Summer of 1982 Barry signed Eddie Stein who was to go on and become his right-hand man. There were many other signings over the close the season and the 82/83 season saw an almost new squad. After the first six games Barnet were top of the league and Fry was named August's manager of the Month.
Then it all went wrong again. In January Barnet managed to climb back to seventh place, but this was followed by more bad luck and they finished 15th at the end of the season.
Off the pitch things were not going too well, either. Five players were transfer listed, including Stein and Phillips, after Barnet crashed out of the FA Cup. Towards the end of the season another player was transfer-listed for playing without approval in an amateur game. In January there was a riot during an FA Trophy game. A hundred opposition fans, having already caused trouble in local pubs, caused a further £1000 worth of damage to Underhill.
Player of the Year - Colin Barnes.
In the close season of 1983 there was controversy surrounding Barnet's top-scorer - Colin Barnes. He had a one month trial at Torquay during which he scored three goals in pre-season friendlies. A permanent deal was on the cards, with figures between £15,000 to £20,000 being mentioned. Then Torquay announced that they already considered him to be their player and had no intention of paying anything for him...
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