Barrow – Why finishing 22nd will be welcome this time around

It won’t have gone unnoticed amongst the more senior of Barrows supporters the significance of the fact that the curtain will fall on this first season back in the Football League in almost half a century at St James Park Exeter on the 8th May.

Between now and then there is still a little work to be done to get enough points on the board to ensure that this outpost of North West football does not immediately return to the National League.

In this most difficult of years for fans of all clubs, denied the opportunity to watch live matches , there would surely be nothing more unfortunate than Barrow supporters being denied the opportunity to witness in “normal “ circumstances their team playing in the Football League.

Already denied the opportunity last summer to “Celebrate” their promotion to the EFL under Ian Evatt’s guidance, they then had to face pre-season uncertainty as manager Evatt was himself lured away by fellow League Two side Bolton Wanderers.

It had taken 48 years but on the 12th September 2020 Barrow played Stevenage in their first match back in the Football League. Sadly there were to be no spectators present at Holker Street to Witness the Occasion.

Nor were there to be any away trips that they had so looked forward to at the Bradford’s and the Bolton’s. Not even a trip to their relatively near neighbours at Carlisle and Morecambe.

In fact all the fans who were lucky enough to attend would have to console themselves with were just three home games when limited numbers of them were permitted to watch at a sparsely populated Holker Street.

Exeter vs Barrow Official Programme

Sitting as they are right now in 22nd place in the table and 8 points ahead of the relegation spaces occupied by Southend United and Grimsby Town, Barrow have just 3 fixtures before they play that last match at Exeter City.

And it was to St James’s Park Exeter that Barrow travelled in that final game of the 1971/72 season, in the hope of avoiding having to seek re-election. Having finished bottom of the entire Football League the previous season and having sought re-election to the Football League on 5 occasions since 1958, Barrow were mentioned in the press at the time as clear favourites not to be re-elected.

That final game of the 1971/72 campaign saw the Bluebirds lose 7-1 to Exeter City, which confirmed both their place in the bottom four and in the re-election ballot.

Despite ending the season in 22nd position above both Crewe Alexandra and Stockport County, when it came to the vote, it was Barrow, who, after an initial tied first ballot with Hereford United, were then voted out of the League in the second ballot by their fellow members.

Those Barrow fans old enough to recall that last visit to Exeter back in 1972 can at least draw comfort from the fact that at the time of writing their destiny remains very much in their own hands, and that this time round finishing in 22nd position will be enough to ensure a second season in the Football League.

We wish them well and though it looks highly unlikely, if it does go down to the final day, Barrow will find they have far more support up and down the country from other clubs supporters than they had from their fellow League members back in 1972.

Hello Hereford!