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Plays for Barnet!
Interview by Phil Snow
It must be every
football fans dream to run out onto the pitch in their
clubs' colours and play for their team. It can't happen
very often but for Barnet superfan Steve Percy that dream
came true on Tuesday the 2nd December 2003 when Barnet
played Ware in the Herts Senior Cup.
I caught up with Steve 24 hours
later to hear the tale of a game that didn't quite turn
out as expected
Congratulations Steve on finally getting a game for
Barnet, How long have you been coming to Underhill?
Steve: Since 1967, about 36 years.
Phil: And you've been to every game
Steve: Well, I've been to every home
game since 1968 and only missed one game in the last 30
odd years and that was against Enfield which had been
postponed earlier in the day due to a frozen pitch, but
it was miraculously played later that day even though it
hadn't warmed up!
Phil: This wasn't the first time you've
played at Underhill was it?
Steve: No I've played for the Supporters
team here, in fact when I was sitting on the bench next
to Frazer Toms I said 'Do you realise there's only two
people in this team today that have actually scored at
Underhill and that's you and me'
Phil: When you won the raffle at the
beginning of the season what were your first thoughts?
Steve: I didn't win the raffle because I
didn't buy any tickets. My wife Ann bought them and she
said to me after the game that she thought one of the
numbers had won. I didn't realise it was going to be
drawn then, I thought it was going to go on for the
season. But she insisted I had won and Kevin Mullen
confirmed it the next day.
Phil: Ann obviously didn't want the
prize then and let you have it!
Steve: Yeah, that's right, some people
might think it's a fix but I can honestly say I didn't
know anything about it and the numbers were drawn out of
a box with no-one knowing who had which numbers.
Phil: So when did you know you were
going to be on the bench against Ware?
Steve: The club phoned me up last
Tuesday just as we were going to leave for Scarborough
and asked me to phone Martin Allen. He wanted me to go
and sign a form, but then they phoned back and said not
to worry because the forms I had already signed covered
me. Although I think the people from Ware were trying to
Phil: Did you think you were just going
to sit on the bench?
Steve: Yeah, I thought it was good
publicity and a good insight into what goes on before the
game and at half time. It was interesting listening to
what Martin Allen and Adrian Whitbread have to say during
the course of the game, which you wouldn't normally see.
Phil: So what happened?
Steve: Well, I think the Ware management
weren't very happy with the situation, especially when I
started warming up. One of them said something and Martin
Allen replied 'Nobody tells me who to bring on at my
club, I'll bring on who I want'. I think that then
emphasised the fact that I was going on.
Phil: Do you think they thought we
weren't taking it seriously?
Steve: Yeah, there is that to it, but we
were winning 4-1 and it was the last 5 minutes. Also they
had a bloke playing for them who looked as fit as I am
and he's supposed to be a proper player!
Phil: What did martin Allen say to you?
Did he just say 'you're on'?
Steve: He told me to get out there, play
up front and hang around the centre circle. But I thought
I could do a bit more than that and wind them up a bit by
running offside then come back on at the last minute.
Phil: What went through you head as you
stepped out on the pitch?
Steve: I thought you were going to say
'What went through me!!'
Phil: I'll get onto that in a
I mean was it better than expected.
Steve: It was a really unreal sensation,
even though I played on there before for the supporters
team and we did get gates of 2-3 hundred people in those
days, it was still a big thrill. Also being a Herts
Senior cup match and a sort of first team fixture it'll
be in the record books.
Phil: So, you received the ball and then
Steve: I'd been on for a minute or so
and saw the ball coming towards me and managed to get a
reasonable touch on it, flicking it off to a Barnet
player. The next thing I know someone's come through the
back of me, it was a really bad tackle and took me
straight out. He should have been sent off but the
Referee booked him, but prior to that other Ware players
had come over pushing and shoving, which resulted in a
Ware player getting his second yellow and sent off.
Phil: Did the Barnet players join in?
Steve: Yeah, they came to my aid; there
was a bit of handbags and that, but no harm done.
Phil: I bet that was a bit of a shock,
rather than coming on and scoring a great goal that
Steve: I suppose I take it as a
compliment that they managed to get that wound up to
react like that.
Phil: Yeah, in the Arsenal friendly when
Steve Pankhurst came on they all stood back
Steve: Well they certainly didn't do
Phil: What happened afterwards?
Steve: We were kept on the pitch for a
minute or two so they could get down the tunnel, then we
went back to the changing rooms for a talk from Mr.
Whitbread and Mr. Allen. It was good to hear them talk
about playing the ball to feet, getting behind people and
not humping it up the pitch. Also enjoying their
football. It was really refreshing to hear.
Phil: Does he come across passionately
in the changing room?
Steve: Very much so, he talks a lot of
sense and with a deal of humour as well, which helps
everyone relax and go from strength to strength.
Phil: Has it changed your outlook from
the terrace, the next time they're not playing so
Just to finish up the
piece when asked if he thought Steve should have played
Martin Allen replied, 'I make it clear that I will only
pick players that are proud to wear the Barnet shirt and
Steve fits into that category'.
Not long after Steve's first touch!