Friday, 14 March 2008

The Tykes

After seeing off Wolverhampton Wanderers and Middlesbrough, next up for Cardiff City is fellow Championship side Barnsley. Both clubs seem very happy with the semi-final draw having avoided the only Premier League team Portsmouth and the Championship's top goalscorers West Bromwich Albion. A Wembley date in front of the Sky TV cameras on Sunday April 6th, with a 4pm kick-off, awaits both clubs.

In the meantime, another new club to introduce. Here is an initial attempt to give you a bit of background about the club from South Yorkshire.

Barnsley FC were formed in 1887 as Barnsley St. Peters and plied their trade in the local Sheffield and District League and the Midlands League before they joined the newly created Division Two of the Football League in 1898. The Football League was split into two divisions that season with the election of four new clubs, Barnsley, Burslem Port Vale, Glossop North End and New Brighton Tower. Their first league game was a 1-0 defeat at Lincoln and Barnsley went on to finish eleventh out of eighteen in their debut season.

April 24th, 1912 was the date that Barnsley won the FA Cup, the only time in their history. They had made a final appearance two years earlier, drawing 1-1 with Newcastle United (at Crystal Palace) before losing the replay 2-0 at Goodison Park. The 1911-12 FA Cup was described as the "cup that bores". Both semi-finals and the final ended 0-0 and needed replays. Barnsley's cup run took in no less than six(!) goalless draws, most notably their quarter-final tie with defending cup holders Bradford City which went to four games after three 0-0 scorelines. Barnsley and West Bromwich Albion produced a stalemate in the final at Crystal Palace before Barnsley settled a drab affair deep into extra time of the replay at Bramhall Lane. This remains Barnsley's only major trophy. What are the odds of a repeat of the 1912 final line-up in 2008?

Runners-up in the Football League Division One in 1996-97 saw Barnsley promoted to the FA Premier League, the club's only foray into top flight football. They went up behind the high scoring Bolton Wanderers and were joined by Crystal Palace, who won the play-off. All three clubs were to be relegated the following season and it was a tough first season (1997-98) in the Premier League for Barsnley. Bolstered by record season ticket sales the manager Danny Wilson splashed out a record £1.5 million to Partizan Belgrade for Georgi Hrstov and also brought in a Slovenian (Krizan), a South African (Tinkler) and a German (Leese) to bolster the squad. But all to no avail. They finished second bottom winning only ten games.

Norman Hunter is one of a number of famous names to have managed Barnsley. The current manager is Swansea born Simon Davey, who will no doubt be looking for a win over Swansea's rivals Cardiff City. Davey made forty nine appearances for Swansea City and Barnsley is the first club he has managed. Other notable names to have taken the helm for the Tykes are Arthur Fairclough (three separate spells), Allan Clarke (twice), Danny Wilson, Dave Bassett and Andy Ritchie.

Strips. Barnsley have been playing in the traditional strip of red shirts and white shorts since 1901. Over the years their strip has had various styles but always red shirts with a white (and sometimes black) trim. Their most notorious strip was worn in 1989-90 which consisted of white stars on a red background and was voted as one of the worst football shirts ever, even though Barnsley fans remember it fondly. Barnsley's away strips over the years has been most commonly white, but other colours have been used ranging from yellow to blue and black to green. In 2001-02 their away strip bore the colours of Brazil which spurned the famous Barnsley associated phrase "it's just like watching Brazil".

Luke Steele is the on loan goalkeeper at Barnsley. He won the Man of the Match award in Barnsley's fantastic 2-1 win at Liverpool in the Fifth Round of this season's FA Cup. Steele was also voted as the FA's player of the round so he will be at Wembley in May whatever happens in the semi-final. That game was his debut for the Tykes having only signed on loan as emergency cover two days before the game. He also played a major part in the 1-0 defeat over Chelsea in the quarter-final. Unfortunately for Steele, the Peterborough born keeper will not be able to play in the final if Barnsley progress and they face West Bromwich Albion as the Midlands club are his current employers.

East Stand, Oakwell. Barnsley have played at Oakwell since 1887. The capacity is 23,009 and includes a redeveloped West Stand which is the only part of the original ground that remains. Only this month the club have announced plans to knock down the West Stand and rebuild. When the new two tier East Stand was built in 1993, partly funded by the football trust, it replaced a covered terrace. Capable of housing almost 7,500 supporters, its completion meant that Barnsley became the first football club in Yorkshire to boast executives boxes.

Yorkshire meets Hungary. One of the Barnsley fan's favourites is Hungarian born István Ferenczi who joined the club on 31st January 2007. Fellow Hungarian Péter Rajczi was also signed on the same day. Ferenczi's debut was against Cardiff City and he has gone on to score eleven goals for the club in forty four appearances. The Barnsley squad, like many in the English game, has a fair smattering of overseas players. Countries currently represented at Oakwell include Trinidad & Tobago (Tony Warner), Nigeria (Kayode Odejayi), Brazil (Anderson da Silva and Dennis Souza), Denmark (Kim Christensen), Jamaica (Jamal Campbell-Ryce), Germany (Heinz Müller), Netherlands (Marciano van Homoet) and Spain (Diego León).

So Barnsley will bring a little overseas flavour to Wembley on April 6th. For a town known locally as "The Tarn" and located in the heart of the West Riding, with a history of coal mining and glass making, the trip to the new Wembley stadium will undoubtedly be a "grand day out" for the Tykes.

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