Holker Street Newsletter 1674 - 2nd March 2006

The Bluebird Development Fund are proud to announce "An Evening with Brian Arrowsmith and Friends" will be held Crossbar, Wilkie Road, Barrow on Friday 7 April at 8pm (bar open at 7.30pm). In conjunction with the launch of Darren Gardner's latest tome on Barrow AFC greats, "Brian Arrowsmith : The Best Years of My Life", an Evening with Brian Arrowsmith will be a question and answer session with Brian and a selection of his former playing colleagues.

A hot pot and peas supper is included in the £5 ticket price. Tickets will be available shortly but we expect this to be a sell out night and advise you to reserve your tickets early by emailing us on bdf@barrowfc.com, calling 07803 052347 or popping into the BDF shop on a matchday or seeing Caron in the Crossbar. The limited edition book (250 copies only) will be launched on the following day when Darren will as usual be signing copies of his book (priced £4) in the Crossbar before the Kettering Town game on Saturday 8 April. Advance orders for the book can also be made by emailing bdf@barrowfc.com

From www.barrowafc.com

Jonathan Smith's one month loan at Radcliffe has come to a natural conclusion after the big centre-half chipped a cheek bone in the defeat to Frickley on Saturday. Smith will now be out for at least a fortnight after also suffering slight concussion. Barrow Assistant Boss, Gary Bauress, had been due to assess the form and fitness of Smith in his scheduled appearance for Borough at Prescot last night before a review of the loan situation.

Phil Wilson believes that the recent influx of new players has helped Barrow AFC improve their performances and results. Since coming to the club the new boss signed centre back Stuart Howson, left back Chris Butler, midfielder James Olsen, as well as forwards Kyle Wilson and Nick Rogan. Each of those players have helped turn around Barrow’s season and Wilson thinks that we wouldn't have achieved the results against Harrogate and Droylsden without those players. In particular its felt that the defence is stronger and that we have players coming on who are equally as good as the players they have replaced.

From Pete Kirby

I didn’t make Saturday's game due to family commitments, and I missed Thursday night’s meet the manager evening. I would never have missed occasions like this a few years ago, but I believe this will revert back to the 'norm' in the very near future. But having read the paper, the fans’ forum and the Newsletter, I am keeping tabs on things, something caught my eye in, I think, Friday’s Evening Mail.

Finally something that has been said by the board (Ian Laird) about the fitness of players, after years on the terraces where we supporters saw it stand out like a sore thumb, with Laird being the Keens’ right hand man and his admission (according to the Evening Mail) at Thursday night's meet the manager, that the board were to blame to some degree for letting (fitness) this slip, something we saw years ago and was never addressed, but it was a little refreshing to hear. But on the whole it was far too late, they should have dealt with it then, and not have Phil Wilson come to the club and shout it out at every opportunity, even though it needed to be said and make sure the board are aware of this and I agree with Phil doing it as I have shared his views on this like, as have many others I know. The board should have dealt with this they saw the same rubbish as we all did.

Ever since the game at Accrington away (and now look at them, on the verge of League football), how things have changed, we have been struggling, losing fans and money left, right and centre, but they have gone on from strength to strength while we have slipped further down. And good luck to them, they deserve it, they worked hard got the results and are in pole position, if they don’t go up then they have themselves to blame for throwing it away. Now we can put to bed all those games, all those seasons where we were out of the running come bonfire night for the title, put them in the dank dark past and embrace the new bright future we will have with Phil Wilson in control.

For us it is a case off no more, Wilson has been a real new broom, sweeping clean. The old mentalities are gone and in a few short weeks we have the makings of a side that will compete for top honours and promotion. The players he has brought in don’t expect to play when they are available, they work hard on the pitch telling the gaffer that they are the men for the job, the Barrow squad has examples to follow, and fitness levels to achieve: Cotts, for me, has shown he can rise to the challenge alongside Howson, Butler looks like a fantastic left back, or left side centre back when playing a three man line up at the back. Olsen in the midfield battles hard and well, even Billy has upped his work rate and is getting stuck in, when we aren’t in possession, the new lad, Rogan has plenty of pace, can pass and can run all game long, then Kyle, he works his socks off, he really does, he is settling into a new team, and having his old man as boss must have hampered him in his first weeks with us, but now he is really coming along. Again working hard, he used to look forlorn at times but now Knight has improved greatly and we are starting to see Rushy get his fitness up, there are more options for him to work with upfront. I like his role, he plays wide right of midfield but every opportunity he gets forward and gives us a three man strike force. his and the other guys who come into the squad, have set the bar to a new level, and I am sure this will get pushed further up once Phil gets his training schemes up and running fully.

With over 90% (according to PW) making the training every week is music to my ears, they play like a team again, and to others on the Popular Side around me, we are now watching some good football again and not watching a kick about, the team spirit must be soaring, and I say again,. team spirit as they play like a team. each and every one of them.

We have a new dawn, I feel a bright future, and we are back on the up.

I didn’t see the Bloods game, but Harrogate were rubbish and we taught them a lesson, should have had more than three, and they are play-off contenders, if we go unbeaten to the end of the season then we could be right up there in the mix, wow, I am having a dream again

It is good to dream again, especially when it is not a nightmare.

From Stephen Norris

I have quite large and growing (thanks to eBay!) collection of Barrow programmes from the 1950s and 1960s, and never cease to be surprised by how refreshingly informative and honest they were back then (compared with today's over-priced glossy superficial efforts). I particularly like to read the ramblings of Old Chatterbox in the blue cover gems from all those years ago. I came across a slightly more recent programme a few weeks back and thought the editorial might interest readers of the Newsletter. It is amazing how Barrow AFC seem to be forever in a state of turmoil! The list of clubs that are mentioned as "survivors" makes particularly interesting reading, especially Wigan! This extract is from the programme for the FA Cup First Qualifying Round match between Barrow and Accrington Stanley played on 15 September 1973, which Barrow lost 4-1 in front of 401.

"There's one thing to be said for modern sport.....you never know what is going to happen next. On Tuesday night the Board had to decide whether there was to be Northern Premier League football in Barrow or whether there was to be speedway. The League had made it plain that there not be both. The ultimatum was plain enough...."get things right or get out".

It seems to us that it has been impossible to compromise and while the directors served immediate notice to quit on the speedway organisation they now have the problem of what to do without the money which the speedway has been bringing in. Expect no sympathy from the Northern Premier League on that score. If a town the size of Barrow can't support a football team when spots like Scarborough, Goole, Stafford, Boston and Wigan can then it is just too bad....for Barrow.

Undoubtedly there will be ructions but there you have it. There have been mutterings and grumblings about those corners on the Holker Street pitch for more than a season now. Those who never liked the advent of speedway and what it meant in ground alterations might well be happy at what has happened now. We are not. We wonder where the badly needed extra lolly is going to come from when speedway isn't there. And we sympathise with the Board. They had no choice and all they had tried to do was to give Barrow an additional sport and make a bit of much needed extra cash for the club on the side. Perhaps someone will now tell us how other clubs manage to survive so happily with a speedway track around their ground?"

From Mike Blackstone

With reference to the piece about the floodlight failure at the recent Lancaster City versus Workington fixture - I quote:- "In a statement, the club apologised to all the supporters, especially to the supporters, players, and club from Workington. All spectators were given a ticket that will be valid for when the game has been rearranged."

I can confirm that all spectators were certainly not given a ticket for the rearranged game. I, along with many others left the ground as soon as the announcement was made about the game being abandoned. No sign of any tickets being given out. I suspect that maybe the only fans who got them were those who went into the social club after the game? There were a family from Workington stood near to me and they left the ground too, immediately after the abandonment, so it wasn't just the visiting supporters who got tickets either. Just thought I would clarify that report. Interesting evening though! The pies were up to standard.

Held at the Crossbar on 3 February

Apologies – Darren Gardner, Norman Hudson.
Meeting Opened – 18.10
Present – Rob Rogers, George Dewey, Caron Harris, Pete Garbacz, Richard Ingham, John McKay and Dave Chubb.

Previous minutes were agreed
New Gates – This project is to be put on hold as it is a greed the shop is a priority.
Soul Night needs to be re-booked with Sean O’Conner – Action RI
No response as yet from Ulverston Tea Rooms, agreed to close the matter and remove them as sponsors of literature – Action RR
Still no solid date for work to start on the shop – Action – GD
Election of Chairman – Dave Chubb attended the meeting to put himself forward as new Chairman and was voted in unanimously by the committee.
George presented an up to date record of accounts, and the committee thanked him for his continuing hard work.
Committee agreed to send a letter of thanks to Dave and Lisa Ayres for all their support and hard work over many years – Action PG
Sponsored Walk – Need to look into this year’s sponsored walk, June 24 a possible date – Action RB
Poolathon – Caron has agreed to approach interested parties regarding this event – Action CH
Book Launch – It is proposed that we will hold a “curry night” (TBC) on Friday 7 April to coincide with the launch of Darren Gardner’s new book on Saturday the 8. Special guest speakers have been approach but details need finalising – Action RI
Container for tractor – On hold at the moment while the options are looked into, need to liaise with the board – Action CH
Any Other Business: A new sponsor has come forward and is interested in supporting the BDF from next season – Action RB

Meeting closed 19.30: Next meeting to be held at the Crossbar on Friday 3 March.

Saturday 4 March: Alfreton Town v Hinckley United, Droylsden v Redditch United, Hednesford Town v Leigh RMI, Kettering Town v Harrogate Town, Nuneaton Borough v Hucknall Town, Stalybridge Celtic v Barrow, Vauxhall Motors v Northwich Victoria, Worcester City v Moor Green, Workington v Stafford Rangers, Worksop Town v Lancaster City.

News From The North by Phil Yelland.

Since our last home game ten days ago, there has been plenty of news to catch up on from around the north.

Robinson Scoops Award: The Nationwide North "Manager of the Month" award for January has gone to Phil Robinson of Stafford Rangers. His side enjoyed a tremendous month taking their place at the top of Nationwide North and extending their lead as well as making progress in the FA Trophy.

The Conference South award went of Gary Roberts of our FA Trophy conquerors Cambridge City whilst the Nationwide Conference award went to John Coleman of Accrington Stanley who like the other winners saw his side make significant League and Trophy progress.

Changes At Scarborough: It looks as if Neil Redfearn's Scarborough are set to climb clear of the bottom of the Nationwide North table. An impressive burst of form inspired by recently signed striker David McNiven has helped and now the club is taking steps to secure improvements to the squad. In a surprise move veteran former Huddersfield Town defender Steve Yates has left the club as Conference rivals Halifax Town have offered him a better deal. However, another former Huddersfield Town player, Lee Fowler has earned a permanent spell at the McCain Stadium after an impressive loan spell. He celebrated with a spectacular striker in the 3-0 win at Morecambe. Two other players have left the McCain Stadium permanently, however. Highly rated skipper Neil Bishop has moved to nationwide Conference rivals York City for an undisclosed fee as the Minstermen look to boost their play off hopes. Also on the move is striker Brian Wake. He joined on loan from Scottish League Two side Gretna on loan over the summer. He has scored regularly when called on but the ambitious Scottish side don't think he is getting enough football so they have now loaned him to Scottish First Division side Hamilton Academicals. Also moving on, at least temporarily are two youngsters James Beadle and Dan Jarvis who have both joined Bradford Park Avenue in Conference North on a loan deals.

Shrimps Release O'Connor: Talking of Morecambe, following the signing of veteran striker Stuart Barlow from League Two Bury, acting boss Sammy McIlroy has released experienced striker Sean O'Connor. He had signed fro the Shrimps twenty months ago after successful spells in Scotland with Morecambe and Queen of the South. His spell at Christie Park has been blighted by injury as he has made just 11 starts since joining the club. He seems set to return to Queen of the South after a further knee operation is completed. However, one player returning to Christie Park is midfielder Mike Stringfellow. He has been on loan for a month at Southport but there has been no move to extend that deal.

Southport Turn "Good Neighbours": After signing the highly promising Liam Blakeman from UniBond Premier Division neighbours Burscough, Southport boss Liam Watson has done the Victoria Park club a favour after their recent form slump. He has allowed promising youngster Robbie Booth to join them initially for a one month loan. One new face arriving at Haig Avenue is veteran midfielder Gary Brabin. As reported here a few weeks ago, after a number of months out of the game as a player, Brabin recently signed for Lancaster City in Nationwide North but it seems as if this may have been to get match fit. He has a deal with Southport to the end of the season as they battle the drop.

Another new face at Haig Avenue is experienced Woking defender Jimmy Aggrey. He is surplus to requirements at Kingfield at the moment and has joined the Sandgrounders on loan for the rest of the current campaign.

Three New Faces At Lancaster: Lancaster City boss Peter Ward has brought in three new faces to boost his squad in the last couple of weeks. The best known of these was midfielder Steve Smith who has made the short trip up the M6 from Nationwide North rivals Leigh RMI. The other two new faces have both joined up from UniBond Premier Division clubs. Joe Feeney has joined from Prescot Cables whilst Griff Jones has arrived from Witton Albion.

Worksop Get Their Man: After a real chase, Worksop Town boss Ronnie Glavin has finally got the striker he has been looking for all season. Ben Saunders did very well in a loan spell with the Tigers earlier in the campaign but the chances of a permanent deal looked dead when he returned to League One side Doncaster Rovers. Saunders has now signed an 18 month deal with the Sandy Lane outfit. As he arrives, experienced striker Glenn Kirkwood has left the club and signed for UniBond Premier Division side Ilkeston Town. Also leaving Town is experienced midfielder Chris Hurst whose loan move to Ossett Town of the UniBond Premier Division has now been made permanent. However, one player who looks likely to be missing from the Tigers line up for some time is goalkeeper Adam Sollitt. He has been the victim of an attack in Sheffield city centre which has left him with a fractured skull.

'Boro Brush Up And Net Darby: After a dip in form following their FA Cup exit, Nuneaton Borough manager Roger Ashby has moved to reinforce his goalkeeping options. He has signed 21 year old keeper Richard Brush who has previous Nationwide Conference experience with Tamworth and has just been released by Shrewsbury Town of League Two. The Manor Park side have also boosted their striker force by signing the much travelled striker Duane Darby. He has joined from Shrewsbury Town of League Two after a lengthy career in the Football League. 'Boro did well to secure his services in front of two Nationwide Conference sides.

Dave Follows His Mates: Experienced defender Dave German is on the move again. Earlier this season, Dave moved from Stalybridge Celtic to Ashton United in the UniBond Premier Division. Now he is on the move again returning to Nationwide North with another Tameside based club, Hyde United. He links up at the Tigers with former Stalybridge team mates Nathan Wharton, Lincoln Adams and Danny Caldecott. One player leaving the Tigers, at least temporarily is former first choice goalkeeper Mark Westhead. He has joined Witton Albion of the UniBond Premier Division on a one month loan. Another new face at the Tameside Stadium is defender Lee Unsworth who once upon a time interested us. He began his career with Atherton LR and has gone on to play League Football with Crewe Alexandra and latterly Bury.

Leigh Miss Out: Leigh RMI boss Andy Nelson has been knocked back as he tries to strengthen his squad. He was looking to sign former Altrincham youngster Kirk Hilton who is now with Ashton United in the UniBond Premier Division but Hilton has rejected the move.

Striker Out: It looked as if there were going to be significant changes as Kettering Town as manager Kevin Wilson tried to ignite their play off bid. One striker has left Rockingham Road. Christian Moore has left the Poppies and rejoined the club where he made his name, Burton Albion. Moore only joined the Poppies in the summer from Worcester City. It appears that Craig Midgeley who was reported to be leaving the Poppies is staying put meanwhile.

However, after successive defeats, Wilson found himself out of a job, sacked by the Poppies for the second time this season. He has been replaced by the highly rated Morrell Maison who has been in charge at Buckingham Town in the United Counties League for the past six seasons. He will be assisted by former Derby County and Cambridge United striker Alan Biley. He has previously held a coaching role at Rockingham Road. This season he has been assisting with coaching at Spalding Town in the UniBond First Division.

Trinity Change Strikers: Gainsborough Trinity boss Paul Mitchell has made changes to his striking options. Leaving the Northolme is veteran striker David Reeves who numbers Carlisle United amongst his former clubs. He has been released and immediately signed for Buxton who are clear at the top of the Northern Counties East League and seem set to win a return to the UniBond League. They are bossed by former Bradford City boss Nicky Law. He has been replaced by 20 year old striker Eric Graves who has joined on a one month deal from Burton Albion of the Nationwide Conference.

Smith Moves On: Alfreton Town boss Gary Mills cannot be very happy with former Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Paul Smith. The 30 year old joined the Derbyshire side just before Christmas having been out of the game since the summer. Now Smith has signed a contract with Kidderminster Harriers of the Nationwide Conference for the rest of the season.

City Cash In: Worcester City boss Andy Preece has lost one of his best young players but City have pocketed a five figure sum with more to come. Earlier in the season, City blooded 16 year old Sam Wedgebury in the first team and he went on to become the youngest scorer for the first team. Now he has been signed by Championship side Sheffield United with a promise of add ons to the initial fee if the youngster makes the grade.

Stanley Prepare: It looks as if Accrington Stanley are preparing for a return to the Football League after a gap of 46 years both on and off the field. Two new Board members have been appointed. The first is major sponsor Gary Slinger. The second is former Lancashire FA Secretary Jim Kenyon who left that post at the end of 2005. On the field boss John Coleman has allowed one of his young players, Andy Barry, who has been a success this season to join League One side Yeovil Town. He is replaced in the squad by former Hucknall Town striker Andy Todd who has joined on loan from Nationwide Conference rivals Burton Albion for the rest of the season.

On the field, Stanley have also clinched their place in the United Co-operative Cup Final. Last season they won the competition defeating Burscough in the Final. Last week, they defeated the Linnets at Victoria Park 5-3 after extra time. They will meet either Lancaster City or Kendal Town in the Final.

Town Take Kennedy: In an interesting move, former Worksop Town goalkeeper Jon Kennedy has been given the chance to play in the Nationwide Conference again. Last season Kennedy began as first choice number one at Accrington Stanley but he lost the jersey owing to injury. He was released at the end of the season and joined Witton Albion in the UniBond Premier Division. He has now been signed by Halifax Town who are pushing for a play off place after they found themselves with only one registered goalkeeper, 39 year old player coach Lee Butler.

Wilson Signs In: Just days after leaving Kettering Town, Kevin Wilson was back in a managerial post in Conference North. He has headed up the M1 and taken the reigns at Hucknall Town who had dispensed with the services of manager Dean Barrick last month. Wilson has brought in as his assistant former West Brom striker Gary Thompson. No news yet as to whether the other coaching staff at Watnall Road will be staying on.

Martindale Moves Up: In a surprise move, Vauxhall Motors have persuaded much travelled striker Dave Martindale to join them as player/coach. The veteran striker has been playing with Runcorn FC Halton in the UniBond Premier Division, having started the season with Chorley in the UniBond First Division following a move from Burscough. Martindale made his debut in the recent home defeat by Harrogate Town. He moves to Rivacre Park to replace midfielder Brian McGorry who has been acting as coach this season. Some of you might remember McGorry who had a brief spell here during the 1998-99 season when we were in the Conference.

Town Shed Lennon: Harrogate Town have trimmed one youngster from their squad with the news that Tony Lennon making the short journey south to join Guiseley in the UniBond Premier Division as they push to reach the promotion play offs.

Whittle Drops Down: Another Conference North player dropping down to the UniBond Premier Division is goalkeeper Tommy Whittle. He left Hinckley United at the end of last season to join Conference North newcomers Hednesford Town. He was a regular for Town early in the season but an injury and loss of form saw him lose his place. He has been allowed to leave Keys Park and has joined Ilkeston Town.

Prokas Returns: Workington manager Tommy Cassidy has strengthened his squad by bringing midfielder Richard Prokas back to the club for a second spell. Prokas who began his career at Carlisle United (and had a spell on loan here) was with Scottish Second Division outfit Gretna but has not featured this season. He was released by the Raydale Park club and is expected to be pushing for a place at Borough Park once he regains match fitness. The club has also signed teenage striker Matt Berkeley on loan from Gretna for the rest of the season

All Change At Redditch: It looks as if things may be looking up at Redditch United following the departure of chairman Pat Cremin. There were a number of problems that have been covered in the media and Cremin has now resigned his post and left the club. He has been replaced Steve Rossiter. Meanwhile manager Gary Whild is looking to improve his squad now that uncertainty about the club's future has been removed. He has signed young defender Simon Rea on loan from Conference North rivals Nuneaton Borough and more new faces are expected soon at the Valley Stadium.

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