Barry Fry Years - Part Seven
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So far we have chartered the history since the formation of the club, up until the end of the 90/91 season.
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.
Tragically, the summer of 1991 saw the untimely death of Kevin Durham, a midfielder who had joined from Wycombe the year before. He suffered a heart attack whilst holidaying in Spain. The Durham Suite in the clubhouse commemorates him at Barnet.
Playing With the Big Boys
The team did not change much during the close season, but joining the "big boys" proved an expensive affair. Ground improvements included a segregated away terrace with its own facilities, more turnstiles, extra seating and the famous Underhill slope being levelled off in one corner. There was also the small matter of a £150,000 bond, which had to be paid over while work was being completed on the new clubhouse.
The season started with much anticipation. In true Barnet style, they suffered a bizarre home defeat of 7-4 at the hands of Crewe. Barry Fry said of the game: "It was a carnival occasion and Barnet were the clowns. My defenders must have thought tackle is what they go fishing with."
Another bizarre result soon followed with a 5-5 draw against Brentford in the League Cup. Unfortunately, in the replay (which Barnet lost 3-1) Gary Phillips was seriously injured. Mark Flashman was still the reserve goalkeeper so a new goalie was needed. Andy Pape joined from Enfield, an experienced keeper who had had one league game twelve years earlier with QPR.
His first two games were clean sheets, the second being a 6-0 thrashing of Lincoln. This was followed by further favourable results that left Barnet up with the best of them. Barnet were then drawn against Enfield in the second round of the FA Cup. Enfield had since been relegated from the Conference and Barnet won comfortably, 4-1. This was followed with a 2-0 win over Mansfield, who were top of the table.
Atkinson Offers a Million
Boxing Day lived up to its expectations, with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Crewe. Barnet were third in the table and the team had settled very well into their new division. Top scorers were Gary Bull and Mark Carter with 19 and 17 respectively. Other key players were Kenny Lowe, Gary Poole, Roger 'Harry' Willis and Paul Showler. Aston Villa's new manager, Ron Atkinson, made an approach for Bull and Willis with sums of one million pounds being mentioned. This time, Barry had his sights firmly on promotion and refused.
Barnet were drawn against second division Charlton in the FA Cup, but ended their cup-run with a 3-1 defeat. Barnet's form dropped a bit after this and Fry looked around for a couple of players. Terms were agreed with two players, one of whom was Ken Charlery, but Flashman refused to foot the bill. Instead Dave Barnett was bought from Kidderminster along with a couple of loans from Spurs and Arsenal.
Barnet could not repeat their earlier successes, with a further blow in the form of Aldershot retiring from the league. Barnet had claimed six points from them, which now counted for nothing. It should be noted that Aldershot were not the only club with problems at this point. Northampton had sacked their manager and nine players as an economy measure, while Halifax, Doncaster, Maidstone and Scarborough were not much better off. (Since then, Maidstone have folded, but were re-born in 1992 and are now in the Bass Brewers Kent League while Doncaster and Scarborough have also been relegated to the Conference. Halifax have been escaping relegation like Houdini ever since, and recent reports show that they have quite serious problems.)
A Place in the Play-Offs
Barnet managed to scrape seventh place, thus a place in the Play-Offs. The first leg was at home to Blackpool. Although Barnet played an excellent game, they were unlucky with the woodwork. Although they won 1-0, they could have won by more, booking their place in the Wembley final.
A frustrated Stan Flashman stormed into the dressing room, called the team a disgrace and sacked Barry Fry. This was followed the next day by Flashman denying everything and claiming that Fry was "the best in the league." Flashman was becoming unpopular on the terraces, with speculation that either he or Fry would go in the summer.
There were also allegations that money was owed to Fry and the team, and money needed to strengthen the team was not forthcoming. On top of this, the return leg at Blackpool did not go Barnet's way, losing 2-0 (2-1 on aggregate. Blackpool went on the win the play offs.).
I have caught up with myself so there is no 'sneak preview' this time. Touch wood, I will have the time (and inclination) to write up the 92/93 season by next week, which includes, of course, our best season ever, and promotion to Division Two...
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