At least this week we weren’t waiting around for games to be called off. After the rain started falling on Tuesday night it simply didn’t stop. Some clubs had made their decisions yesterday that there would be no football, and by 10am 90% of the games in the Ryman Premier League were lost once again to the weather. The situation is now getting beyond a joke, yet the League administrators are conspicuous by their continued silence. “Problem? There isn’t a problem here” they will be saying as fixtures start to pile up and clubs are forced into financial dire straits by the lack of home gate revenues.
By 11am only two Non League games within the M25 had survived – one at Thamesmead Town where I had been a frequent visitors in recent months on scouting missions and one in unchartered territory at Barnet FC. No brainer where I would be heading then. It almost seemed to calm to be true as I checked the Barnet website and Twitter feed – “pitch in immaculate condition” was the main message which did seem to defy the odds considering the chaos and mayhem playing out in front on my eyes on the iPad.
I have always had a soft spot for the Bees and for one magical season back in 1991 I went to most games in the first Football League season at Underhill. I was romantically involved with a young lady who lived in Barnet, and to escape Saturday afternoon’s shopping in Brent Cross with her and her mother, I became a Barnet fan, managing to convert her father after their amazing Football League debut against Crewe Alexandra where they lost 7-4. The club was welcoming and rough around the edges, without any airs and graces. You had the feeling that the club, owned at the time by self-confessed ticket tout Stan Flashman and managed by the original wheeler-dealer Barry Fry, didn’t give a toss for the officialdom of the Football League. The Non-League spirit lived on at Underhill for many years despite changes in ownership, management and league status.
But somehow in recent times it all changed. Perhaps it was simply that football itself changed and the Bees realised if you can’t beat them then you need to join them, or that people with different agendas got involved in the club. The long-term legal wranglings over the suitability of Underhill as a League ground were always the main topic of discussion when I met Barnet fans, rather than their league status. They still remain the only club that has been promoted twice from the Conference and relegated twice back down from where they came. Continue reading