Barry Fry Years - Part Four
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So far we have chartered the history since the formation of the club, up until the end of the 84/85 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.
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Stan and Barry Fall Out
At the start of the 85/86 season Barnet were still plagued by injuries - despite making new signings over the summer, including Dave Sansom who was the younger brother of Kenny - a favourite at Arsenal. This was not helped by a pre-season friendly with Harrow, who had resorted to hacking as a tactic, leading to three Barnet players being stretchered off.
Maidstone visited Underhill fairly soon in the season, and it took a Nicky Evans hat-trick to end the game 3-3. Then Barnet were drawn against Enfield in the FA Cup. The 7-0 drubbing dampened the enthusiasm that had been building up. This was followed by another four goals being conceded at Nuneaton.
Then Barry Fry had his first fall out with Stan Flashman - which is some going given that he was not even employed by him at the time! Barry had only been offered instalments to pay back the loan that he had raised to save the club the year before and was threatening court action.
The ensuing argument resulted in him being banned from Underhill for an indefinite period. This unfortunately coincided with a benefit match that had been arranged for ex-player - Steve Brinkman - who had recently suffered a career ending heart attack. Barry had to miss the match where Barnet Present played Barnet Past.
Meanwhile, Barnet's form in the league was not good, especially at home. The last straw for Flashman was a 1-0 home defeat by Wycombe in the FA Trophy, just before Christmas. Flashman went straight to the dressing room and dismissed Thompson.
This was, perhaps, somewhat unfair as Barnet had a fairly comfortable mid-table position and there were more injuries than usual. Perhaps the crowd chanting "Thompson Out" during the game had influenced Flashman. But any chairman or manager can tell you that these chants occur every now and then...
Defender, Don McAllister, who had been brought in from Spurs by Thompson, was put in charge. The new manager could not prevent Barnet slipping towards the relegation zone, yet again. Consolation was to be had in the Herts Senior Cup. Barnet beat Stevenage in the final, 4-0.
Barnet finished the season with four straight victories and reached the dizzy heights of 14th. (They were only five points clear of relegation, however!) Meanwhile, Barry Fry's Maidstone were struggling, and only avoided the drop on goal difference. Wondering why they were at that end of the table, instead of the other, the Maidstone chairman sacked him.
Players of the Year - Nicky Evans and Steve Humphries.
The Return of Fry
On May 27 1986 Stan Flashman announced: "Barry's the best for the job. The problems (their financial dispute) are in the past." Barry responded with "I'm excited and it's nice to be home again. After six years there, Barnet is still in my blood and I have a great love for the club. I'm as ambitious as Stan. The club is ready for league football. I'll give the job one hundred per cent."
This seemed a little strange. Fry had spent five seasons at Barnet building squads that spent most of their time in or near the relegation zone. Maidstone had won the league a few years back, but with Barry they had an uncomfortable taste of relegation battle. Flashman was not a patient man; he had already got through two managers. He expected immediate results and did not want to hear excuses.
And now there was a carrot dangling in front of him. The Gola League was to be renamed to Vauxhall Conference - and the champions would earn an automatic place in League Division Four! Stan Flashman wanted that - as did Barry and everyone else at Barnet. But Stan was the boss and he expected to get what he wanted...
The 86/87 season started uncharacteristically well. Three games in saw them top of the Conference, including a 3-1 win over Maidstone. Barry was named manager of the month, which inevitably meant Barnet's form dropped. They crashed out of the FA Cup qualifiers with a 2-0 defeat at home to minnows, Dulwich Hamlet. They soon bounced back, however, with two 5-1 victories over Gateshead and old bogy side - Boston.
With their top position restored they went into December with more victories until Maidstone beat them 1-0. Now in second place they played Enfield at home on Boxing Day. An almost record-breaking crowd of 4130 witnessed a 1-0 victory. This was soon followed by a 3-0 victory on the return at Southbury Road on New Years Day.
Barnet continued their excellent form throughout January and February. They also reached the quarterfinals of the FA Trophy, taking three matches to eliminate Boston. Unfortunately they were knocked out by Fareham, losing 1-0. The winning goal was scored by Andy Bye, which led to the headline in the Barnet Press "Bye Bye Wembley". This setback was accompanied by two home defeats and various draws.
The other contenders for the title - Scarborough - were still piling on the points. In the end it was not to be. Barnet could not catch up with Scarborough and the Yorkshire side became the first team to enjoy automatic promotion to the league.
Flashman and Fry were not disheartened, however, and boasted how they had scored more goals than all the other teams and had the highest attendances. Steve Whitworth, originally side signed by Thompson, was appointed assistant-manager - his input over the next few seasons contributed much to the team's success to come.
Here is a sneak preview...
The 88/89 season was Barnet's centenary season. The side had been rebuilt during the close-season. The selling of players continued throughout the start of the season, including some spectacular six-figure sums. These were largely replaced with a series of loans and free-transfers. Although there were mutterings on the terraces as to what was going on, things only came to a head when Nicky Evans, known to some as "God", was sold to Wycombe for £32,000...
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