Win at Fisher clinches promotion for the Bees

After finishing as runners up in the previous two seasons and missing out on promotion to the Football League, manager, Barry fry and chairman, Stan Flashman were desperate for the Bees to go one better and finally gain promotion to the 4th Division. However, there were a lot of other clubs with the same ambition, including Colchester United who had been relegated to the Conference at the end of the previous season.

Barnet started off the league campaign with a useful 3-3 away draw at Macclesfield Town before hammering newly promoted, Slough Town for six at Underhill, Gary Bull scoring four in a 6-1 win. The Bees followed this fine performance up with wins over Northwich and Barrow and a goalless draw with Altrincham before going down to their first defeat of the season; 1-0 to promotion rivals, Kettering Town at Underhill at the beginning of September.

However, Barnet were to follow this defeat with a run of seven straight league wins, culminating in the 8-1 demolition of Fisher Athletic, later to play an important part in the Bees’ season, at Underhill. Gary Bull scored 4 goals in a match for the second time that season. Bull also scored a hat trick in the 4-1 away win at bath City, but he was not the only Barnet player to be regularly getting amongst the goals. He was ably supported by Dave Regis, Roger Willis and Andy Clarke.

Clarke and midfield player, Phil Gridelet had been the subjects of a £500,000 joint offer by Swindon Town in the summer, but the offer had been rejected by Barnet. However, in September, Barnsley paid £175,000 for Gridelet, a record fee for a non-league club. Soon after, another member of the Bees’ midfield, Paul Harding was sold to Notts County for £60,000 along with Dave Regis, who moved for £25,000.

Manager, Barry Fry brought in Kevin Durham from Wycombe and Tony Lynch from Wealdstone to help plug the gaps. Lynch responded with 2 goals in the home win over Fisher. However, there was a blip in Barnet’s form as their superb league run came to an end with just three points coming from their next four matches.

Meanwhile, during September and October, Barnet progressed through to the 1st round proper of the FA Cup. Their journey began with a 2-0 win away at Clapton from the Isthmian League, Division Two North with goals from Kevin Durham and Gary Poole. In the 2nd qualifying round, the Bees again won 2-0 away, this time against Braintree from the Eastern Counties League. Another away tie in the 3rd qualifying round saw the Bees win 3-1 away to Isthmian League Division One club, Harlow Town, while a win by the same score despatched Heybridge Swifts, from the same league, in the 4th qualifying round. The reward for this run was a 1st round tie at home to Southern League, Chelmsford City.

In the league, Barnet bounced back to form with a 4-1 win away at Yeovil Town, Tony Lynch grabbing a hat trick. They followed this up with a 2-1 home win over Cheltenham Town and then grabbed an excellent point away at promotion rivals, Colchester United before winning 4-1 away at Welling to round up the year. Barnet, Colchester and Kettering Town were the main challengers for promotion as the New Year approached.

On New Years’ Day, Barnet and Colchester met at Underhill and the match was a huge disappointment for the home fans with Colchester dominating the match. They took the lead after just 9 minutes through Gary Bennett and just before the hour mark, Mario Walsh put the visitors 2-0 up. Soon after, a Gary Poole penalty brought the Bees back into the match, but a third goal from Masters sewed up the game for Colchester. The Barnet side that day was; Phillips, Poole, Howell, Bodley, Stein, Tomlinson (Hayrettin), Richardson, Durham, Willis, Bull (Lynch), Clarke.

Four days later and the Bees crashed out of the FA up losing 5-0 at home to Division Two (now Championship) side, Portsmouth in front of a crowd of 6,200. A week later and Barnet were out of the FA Trophy losing 3-2 at home to Farnborough. After this game, defender Phil Stacey was sold to Slough Town and Barry Fry brought in Kenny Lowe from Barrow, one of the best midfield players in non-league football, while Underhill favourite, Nicky Evans returned from Wycombe.

However, in the league, Barnet were getting back on track and the Colchester defeat turned out to be a rare one in a run which saw the Bees win nine out of thirteen Conference matches dating back to the 4-1 away win at Yeovil Town at the beginning of December. Apart from Colchester, the only side to beat Barnet during this run was Barrow, Barnet losing 4-2 in Cumbria.

By the middle of March, Barnet were top of the Conference, but surprisingly crashed 3-2 at home to Merthyr who were in the bottom six in the table. However, the following Saturday they went to fellow promotion hopefuls, Kettering Town and won 3-1 with Gary Bull scoring twice and Mark Carter, newly signed from Runcorn grabbing the other Barnet goal. But Barnet’s form began to get erratic and wins were punctuated with defeats away at Altrincham, inspired by future Bee, Paul Showler and at home to Kidderminster.

Altrincham, who had stormed towards the top of the Conference table with a 23 match unbeaten run, began to falter and, following Barnet’s home defeat by Kidderminster, they dropped to 4th place, three points behind new leaders Colchester. However, a 3-1 home win over Macclesfield Town proved to be the turning point for the Bees. They gained four points from their next two away matches; a 3-1 win at Slough Town, Nicky Evans scoring twice and a 2-2 draw at Stafford

In the next home game against Welling, goals by Gary Bull and a fabulous solo effort by Frank Murphy put the Bees 2-0 up in the first half, but the Bees allowed Welling to claw themselves back into the match and recover to 2-2. However, Mark Carter was brought down in the penalty area and Gary Bull dispatched the resulting spot kick safely for his second goal of the match to gain the Bees three points.

Three days later, Barnet travelled to their long time rivals, Wycombe for their penultimate game of the season. Kevin Durham, a former Wycombe player, who was to tragically die young in the summer that followed, put Gary Bull though to put the Bees ahead after just 78 seconds. Bull then added a second in the driving rain just a few minutes later to put the Bees 2-0 up and that was the score at half time. Kenny Lowe then added a third in the second half to put Barnet in complete control and although the home side pulled a goal back, the Bees ran out 3-1 winners.

With Altrincham, Kettering and Colchester all dropping points in the run in, Barnet travelled to Fisher Athletic on the 4th May 1991 for their final Conference match two points ahead of Colchester and three ahead of Altrincham, knowing that a draw would be enough to take them up to the Football League as Conference Champions.

Twice the Bees fell behind to a side that was at the bottom of the Conference and already doomed to relegation. Dave Howell and Roger Willis scored to put the Bees level at 2-2 and with just four minutes to go, the scores remained level, with Barnet just one mistake away from disaster, but then, Gary Bull, who else, hit home a superb drive to put the Bees ahead for the first time in the match and, in the last minute he scored his second, this time from the penalty spot to give the Bees a 4-2 win, three points, and most important of all, the GM Vauxhall Conference title and the holy grail of promotion to the Football League. The dynamic duo of manager, Barry Fry and chairman, Stan Flashman had done it at last, bringing league football to Barnet!!

 

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

PTS

POS

Barnet (P)

42

26

9

7

103

52

87

1

Colchester

42

25

10

7

68

35

85

2

Altrincham

42

23

13

6

87

46

82

3

Kettering

42

23

11

8

67

45

80

4

Wycombe

42

21

11

10

75

46

74

5

Telford

42

20

7

15

62

52

67

6

Macclesfield

42

17

12

13

63

52

63

7

Runcorn

42

16

10

16

69

67

58

8

Merthyr

42

16

9

17

62

61

57

9

Barrow

42

15

12

15

59

65

57

10

Welling

42

13

15

14

55

57

54

11

Northwich

42

13

13

16

65

75

52

12

Kidderminster

42

14

10

18

56

67

52

13

Yeovil Town

42

13

11

18

58

58

50

14

Stafford

42

12

14

16

48

51

50

15

Cheltenham

42

12

12

18

54

72

48

16

Gateshead

42

14

6

22

52

92

48

17

Boston Utd

42

12

11

19

55

69

47

18

Slough Town

42

13

6

23

51

80

45

19

Bath City

42

10

12

20

55

61

42

20

Sutton (R)

42

10

9

23

62

82

39

21

Fisher (R)

42

5

15

22

38

79

30

22

 

GOALSCORERS

 

 

Conference

FA Cup

FA Trophy

Total

Gary Bull

30

2

 

32

Roger Willis

10

5

 

15

Andy Clarke

12

1

1

14

Mick Bodley

  6

3

 

  9

Nicky Evans

  9

 

 

  9

Tony Lynch

  7

 

 

  7

Kevin Durham

  3

2

 

  5

Dave Regis

  5

 

 

  5

Frank Murphy

  4

 

 

  4

Gary Poole

  2

1

 

  3

Paul Richardson

  2

 

1

  3

Paul Culpin

  2

 

 

  2

Paul Harding

  2

 

 

  2

David Howell

  1

1

 

  2

Kenny Lowe

  2

 

 

  2

Richard Nugent

  2

 

 

  2

Mark Carter

  1

 

 

  1

Geoff Cooper

  1

 

 

  1

Eddie Stein

  1

 

 

  1

og

  1

 

 

  1