Next Match: Scunthorpe United (A) Tuesday 28th September 2010

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Leicester Out-Foxed

Last night was pretty much a perfect night, in footballing terms. What more can we ask? A cold, winter night under the floodlights, a good atmosphere at Oakwell with the crowd getting behind the players, and a hard fought, but well deserved, 3 points against a team who we don't usually score against, let alone beat. And with the news before the game that Palace had been deducted 10 points, the table is looking healthy once more for the Reds after a shaky spell. And of course, Leeds and Donny both losing always gives me a nice warm feeling too!

First things first though; last night I had an important purchase to make. Even more important than my Scunny away tickets. A life-changing purchase. The time had come to buy my new born son his first ever Barnsley shirt. It's been a battle trying to persuade his die-hard Wednesday mum to let me buy him one, and I'm ashamed to say that part of the deal was that he was also allowed a Wendy shirt too, but nonetheless, it was a proud moment, one which even the club shop not stocking the right size could ruin. It's only the first step on a long road towards tempting him away from the dark side and choosing the Reds, and the battle is still ongoing, but yesterday represents a victory for us. Needless to say, the lads had to keep their end of the bargain and provide this momentous day with the win it deserved, and they didn't disappoint.

The first half wasn't pretty, and that's putting it lightly. We never settled into our passing rhythm, and gave Leicester too much respect. Chances were few and far between for both sides. I hate to say it, but every time we play Leicester, I dislike them more and more. I wasn't impressed with their style of play last night; they resorted to a lot of long balls, and were pretty uninspiring. No wonder their fans spent so much of their time and energy taunting the home supporters rather than getting behind the team. They were very much set up looking to stifle the opposition and then catch them out, and credit to them, it nearly worked in the first half, although we eventually found them out and took control of the game.

I don't know what Robins is slipping in the half time cuppa's, but he should bottle it and sell it by the ounce, because it's unreal. The first half, we resorted to playing long and panicky clearances forward towards (apparent) 6"7 hold up man Iain Hume and, rather unsurprisingly, it was totally ineffective. Their centre backs were comfortable for the whole 45 minutes, and we never really threatened to break the deadlock. To be fair, they didn't do much either, although Danny N'Guessan is probably still wondering how he fluffed his lines with his header on 40 minutes. But the second half was a different Reds side, and everything just seemed to click into place. The football at times was a joy to watch, and the atmosphere in the Ponte end was great. Every time we went forward, it looked like we could score. Every corner Hume put in yesterday was exactly where a corner should be, and at the perfect height for someone to attack. Shotton will be wondering how he didn't grab a goal, as will Anderson and Hammill. But all that matters is that we did score, and it was decisive in the end. There were several candidates for MOM, but I thought Hume was a worthy winner of the award, and he will have given Robins plenty to think about.

A special mention again has to go to another referee who had absolutely no grasp on the game at all. It was never gonna be a flowing game of football with Leicester going long at every opportunity, but he played his part in this with a very fussy performance. In particular, some of the soft free kicks he awarded Leicester should have been bookings for diving, but his overall handling of the match was not up to scratch. The OTT celebrations every time he awarded us something made light of the situation, but he certainly joined the massive list of referees who've been shocking down at Oakwell this season.

So a good performance which was well overdue, and with the Reds heading to Reading at the weekend, the 3 points from this game were invaluable, keeping us within striking distance of the playoffs but, more importantly, keeping us away from the dogfight going on below us. Hopefully we can go on another run similar to the one at the back end of 2009 and make headway up this very tight division. We've had a few minor setbacks in the last couple of weeks, but hopefully we're past that now and ready to continue the climb.

Cheers for reading.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Raindrops keep falling on our heads...

At about 1:00pm today (Friday) I had a sudden urge. A crazy, random desire to plan a last minute excursion to Plymouth. It came from nothing, but once it was in my head, that was it. I had it all mapped out; I found a suitable hotel to stop for the night, I'd syphoned some money to one side for petrol, alcohol etc. and I'd almost managed to persuade my dad, who was very, very sceptical, to agree to my spontaneous (and slightly hair brained) trip. Lucky for me, then, that my dad decided that if we were gonna do it, we'd meet up tonight and discuss the plan properly before booking anything or doing anything rash. I don't like that mindset; I prefer to get everything set up and ready for lift off, but I agreed. Well, I agreed in principle, and then carried on planning our itinerary for the two days in the South West (I get a bit carried away when it comes to away days). So you can only imagine how relieved I was that the game was called off before I'd so hastily put everything in place and spent half my weeks wage. If it'd been feasible, I'd probably have already been on my way, squealing with excitement. I love a good, old fashioned away day, especially the ones that happen out of the blue.

Don't get me wrong, I'm totally gutted that this fixture, yet again, hasn't survived a bit of rain. Of course, we were never gonna win; after the turn of events last time at Home Park, it was written in the stars that we were gonna lose the game. But that wasn't the point; I was worked up, buzzing, and ready for a good knees up. Unfortunately, it seems that this match is destined to be played on some shitty Tuesday night sometime, and I'm destined not to be there to see us attempt to right that injustice from earlier in the season.

Of course, it's another kick in the teeth for anyone who had gone that step further and made all their plans for the second time, and it's those die hard souls I feel for the most. I wasn't there for the first attempt at playing the Pilgrims, and I can't even begin to imagine how stressful and costly the whole day was for the brave few who made the first journey.

In Plymouth's defence, the images of the pitch on their official website looked terrible, and the words "bog" and "mush" cropped up way too many times in the accompanying article for comfort. That said, I can't help but think that the reason this game has gone already is that Plymouth are terrified of having to postpone the game again midway through it. Surely the FA could not ignore the state of the pitch if we'd suffered two postponements there during play? The club would find themselves in a bit of bother, you'd think. Even so, it can't rid me of that empty feeling of not having a game this weekend.

So here we are then, we move on to Leicester City at Oakwell in midweek and try, yet again, to put more Plymouth-related misery behind us. And when we finally play Plymouth Argyle away, we'll just have to remember that we owe them. Twice.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

JCR - A big decision by Robins... but the right one?

We all knew it was gonna happen, it was inevitable; JCR has left Barnsley Football Club for pastures new. Our fellow Championship rivals Bristol City are the ones who have ultimately put the money up and taken a punt on a player who, on his day, is one of the most exciting talents in this division.

Obviously, his transfer is going to cause a lot of debate but, whilst he has been an integral part of the squad for the last couple of seasons, he hasn't been the same since Reading turned his head last January with talk of the Premiership and untold glory. Back then, we managed to tie him down with a new contract, but things have been far from rosy in the garden since then, and a loss of form, coupled with an eye injury picked up early in the current campaign, mean first team chances have been limited for the tricky Jamaican winger.

One thing which nobody can deny is the impact the little fella has had on Barnsley FC. He's popped up with some of the most crucial goals of the last couple of seasons for us. Who can forget that mazy run and finish which was the undoing of the pikeys last season? Or the moment he picked the ball up on the edge of the area, raced at the defence and fired his unstoppable shot past Lee Grant to inflict our famous double on the deedahs? Or even his (and our) last goal of the 08/09 campaign, which secured our Championship status for another year at Home Park? We've had some huge moments in the last couple of seasons, and Jamal has been involved in many of them.

So everyone, get yourselves on the official site, and have a gander at his time at Oakwell in pictures, the link is below:,,10309~1938089,00.html

There's some real memories in there, not all of them great. If you can't be arsed to sift through them all, allow me to put up the one which should, and probably will, be the defining image of his time at Oakwell.

I wish him all the best and thank him for his services to the club. Now all we need is MR to pump his transfer fee into bringing in the player who can help us keep pushing up the Championship table.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Come on ref... HANDBALL!!

Well, here it is; my first ever post on this brand new, state of the art Barnsley FC blog! And what a time to start it. I've already missed enough writing material this season to maintain 4 blogs. So far, by starting this blog in January 2010, I've missed the bitter, bitter end of Simon Davey's up and down tenure in the BFC hot seat, as well as some other memorable moments; the arrival of our Messiah from Rovrum, Mark Robins, as well as the (non) return of one Christopher Morgan to Oakwell. And don't get me started on the Plymouth debacle. Yep, there's certainly been plenty to talk about so far in the 09/10 campaign, and hopefully there'll be plenty more talking points over the coming months.

Anyhoo, back to the first blog; Sheffield Wednesday at home. I'll start from the beginning, waaaaay before the pixie in the black blew his whistle for the first and only time at 3pm on Saturday afternoon. The night before I was feeling pretty damn sick, and I struggled to sleep all night. The nerves I get before this fixture are by far and away more unbearable than with any other local derby. I know I shouldn't let it affect me in the way it does, but it's customary now, like a horrible, horrible tradition. See, I've never liked Sheffield Wednesday, obviously that goes without saying. But recently, it's been a different scenario. My significant other happens to be a die hard Wendyite, as is her old man, so these match days have taken another step up in the "unbearable" stakes. Don't get me wrong, last season was a blast, with our delightful double keeping them both uncharacteristically quiet for a few months. But even with their precarious league position, and our new found ability to actually beat them, I didn't feel so confident about Saturday 16th January.

This "new manager syndrome" people tell you about, I've never been bothered with it. What a load of old rubbish, eh? Surely? If a team are poor enough to be in the brown stuff as deep as Wednesday are, surely no new manager can make that drastic a change?? SURELY?? Well, I'd probably believe that myself, had I not witnessed the footballing miracle MARK ROBINS has provided us with since his arrival. And, since then, that syndrome seems way too close to home to dismiss. And, let's be honest, who really saw it coming; Alan Irvine getting sacked by Preston? It seemed like such a strange decision at the time, and still just as much so. He's a good manager, and methinks Wednesday have landed on their feet by bringing him in.

Anyway, confidence issues aside, we have to play them twice a season, and the day was upon us again. So, with my lucky socks in place, and my new retro 1980/81 Barnsley home shirt pulled on and ready for it's first taste of South Yorkshire derby day, off me and my dad went. The pre-match drinks went down a treat, and suddenly the day felt like it could be a success. Funny thing, alcohol; it tends to breed confidence. Sometimes it's misplaced, but Saturday just began to feel right. We were in the box seat for the first time in a long time; these points were ours for the taking today and the Deedahs should be the ones battling with the nerves, not us. These thoughts were reinforced when I got talking to a cockney Wendy fan in the pub (??), who'd travelled up from London to watch the game, and seemed adament that we were gonna give them a severe beating on our own patch. I was getting a bit carried away by this point, so Sod's Law says something was gonna bring me crashing down to Earth. And it's not like Barnsley to disappoint now, is it?

The game then. I'd barely sat my slightly intoxicated, very nervous backside down on my seat and we were behind thanks to some suicidal defending. Steele will look back at that one and hang his head, as will Dicko no doubt. But after Freddy dragged us back into the match with a FANTASTIC, PERFECTLY JUDGED LOB (mis-hit cross), yet again I dared to believe. We'd let them have a goal; that was the neighbourly thing to do, yes? Nobody can accuse us of not being good hosts. But now, we'd sort them out. We'd take control of the game and give them what was coming to them. The only problem was, before I'd finished this chain of thought, we'd bloody well give them another one. This one hurt more, because it was him again. Jermaine friggin' Johnson. There's something about that bloke, the way he celebrates goals, the way he runs, everything; he winds me up no end. It could've been ANYONE but him and it'd have been slightly easier to take, but nooooooo, it was him. Great.

There were a few moments in that frantic 1st half that should have indicated it just wasn't gonna be our day. The penalty shout was as clear cut as I've ever seen, and it was sickening to see the referee wave it away without a moments thought. I've got to say, I was too far away to make a totally accurate judgement, but I'm willing to trust the various Wednesday fans who've gloated about it since and assume that the officials got it wrong. If only Clatterburg had been in charge of the game, I'm sure the right decision would have been made. After all, he loves giving penalties in front of the away end.

The other talking point was Sheffield Wednesdays resident blunderer, Darren Purse, attempting the most insane 30 yard backpass ever witnessed and only escaping the wrath of the 4,500 strong deedah crowd thanks to some poor, indecisive finishing from Boggy. It looked bad from the front of the Ponty end, and I've seen enough replays to know Boggy should really have punished Purse and put us into what would have been a barely deserved, but very welcome 2-1 lead.

We only get shit refs...

Anyway, the first half came and went with the horror backpass and the very clear penalty waved away by our heroic official (more on him later) the stand out moments. The 2nd half never quite lived up to the 1st, although to be fair, the game never fizzled out; the tension was there until the final kick of the day. Steele was given a masterclass in how to punch the ball by most of the Wednesday defence and the referee did his best to ignore every claim we had. Seriously, did anyone actually see him bring his whistle out for the second half?? I think Mr Penn must have left it with his good friend Mr Teller in the tunnel, 'cos he certainly wasn't carrying the damn thing. It's a sad indictment of the season we're having with referees that our most frequently used chant is the 'shit refs' one, and it's beginning to feel like we'll never get another penalty at home. But, despite his poor performance, it shouldn't be allowed to shield the Reds from some deserved criticism; they weren't at the races and got pretty much what they deserved. At times we played they way Wednesday wanted us to, and allowed the game to become a scrappy affair. Simply, we weren't worthy of the points.

His dads a cu...

The rest of the weekend has been pretty hard to get through, as I'm sure it has for most Reds fans. The girlfriend and her dad have barely been able to hide the smug looks all weekend, and I've been in a non-stop sulk since about 4:58 Saturday evening, as I'm sure many others have. Any defeat ruins the weekend, but this one in particular stings more than any other. But onwards and upwards, as they say. Plymouth is a massive game, but it's very winnable (we've already done it once) and could be the kick start we need after a couple of poor results recently. I wish I was making that one in, but family commitments mean I can't make Plymouth or Reading, both of which I was looking forward to, so I'll be concentrating all my efforts on welcoming Darren Ferguson into his new Preston job on the 2nd of February. I'm sure he remembers the Reds fans from Peterborough earlier in the season!

Thanks for reading, I hope you come back again and continue sharing this season with me.