GREAT MATCHES - BLACKPOOL 2000/01
BARNET 7-0 BLACKPOOL
League Division 3 - Saturday 11th November 2000
Tony Cottee's brief affair with Barnet Football Club lasted some 136 days from when he became player-manager on October 31st 2000 until his resignation on March 16th 2001. Whether you are in the camp of blaming Tony totally for our relegation back into the non league that season or you believe like me that he was partly the victim of circumstances the fact is seeing him pull on the amber number 9 shirt for the home game against Blackpool was something very special. He was to score 10 goals in just 18 appearances for the Bees – and that was also special.
Cottee had legendary status at West Ham, making his debut at 17 in 1983 and scoring some 125 goals in two spells at Upton Park. He briefly became the most expensive player to be signed by a British club when in August 1988 he joined Everton in a deal worth £2.2 million. He scored over 70 goals in 200 appearances while at Goodison Park too. He continued to score goals in Malaysia for Selangor and at Leicester City before finishing his top flight career at Norwich City. In all he scored nearly 300 times in just over 700 appearances.
Offered the hot seat position by Barnet Chairman Tony Kleanthous Cotteemania struck the Barnet public, as queues formed outside the club shop on the High Street for autographed shirts and the like. The supporters were still buzzing from the astonishing 4-3 pre-Cottee win over Lincoln City the previous week when the Bees had been 3-0 down inside 26 minutes.
Now the Media were out in force and the following day the Sunday TV magazine Nationwide League Extra was to be broadcast from Underhill. The news that afternoon from the dressing room was that Cottee would start in place of Omer Riza and that Warren Goodhind had failed a late fitness test. Cottee and newly appointed Director of Football and ex manager John Still had selected the following Barnet line up:
Danny Naisbitt; Sammy Stockley, Rob Sawyers, Greg Heald, Mark Arber; John Doolan, Darren Currie, Frazer Toms, Stuart Niven; Tony Cottee, Tony Richards.
Subs: Lee Harrison, Scott McGleish, Danny Brown, Lee Gledhill and Omer Riza.
The Referee was Richard Beeby.
After 18 minutes a long clearance from Danny Naisbitt left Cottee clear of defender Brian Reid and one on one with the Blackpool goalkeeper. The ball was expertly lifted over the advancing Jon Kennedy to put Barnet ahead. It was an exquisite piece of finishing from Cottee which was followed seven minutes later by a perfectly weighted ball to Frazer Toms whose cross was met by Tony Richards to tap in for 2-0.
Naisbitt, who was in a rich vein of form and keeping first choice custodian Lee Harrison on the bench, made a excellent full length save to thwart Brett Ormerod before the Bees scored two more goals just prior the interval. Richards grabbed his second after 42 minutes following up on an error by Kennedy after more good work between Cottee and John Doolan. Then up-stepped Darren Currie, who had been mesmerising the Seasiders' defence with his dribbling skills, to skilfully bend a 30 yard free kick into the corner of the net for 4-0.
On the hour Riza replaced Cottee and he received a standing ovation as he walked off from all four corners of the ground. Then Scott McGleish and Danny Brown replaced Richards and Stuart Niven respectively.
After 76 minutes it was five as Currie again had the Underhill faithful jumping around with his viciously dipping free kick, from just inside the East Terrace touchline, flying straight into the back of the Blackpool net. Three minutes later Mark Arber's head (although he was famous on the terraces for some other ample part of his anatomy – his backside!) diverted another Currie free kick past Kennedy to make it six. Currie rounded off his Man of the Match day by grabbing his third after 83 minutes with a brilliant individual goal. Receiving the ball on the right from Doolan he waltzed through the Blackpool defence before placing the ball perfectly in the opposite corner of the net. Cottee would have been proud of the finish.
The result incredibly lifted Barnet into 8th place in the table just a couple of points off of the play offs yet in the league from that juncture until Cottee's resignation the team would win just 11 points from a possible 54 and just 18 from the next 28 games, a possible 84 points. Subsequently the club was relegated on the very last day of the season in a winner take all game versus Torquay United in May 2001, but you all know that tale.