Over 20 years of writing about my club in Barnet matchday programmes, which sold to about 500 souls on a good day, now with this Blog Site everyone can read my ramblings, memories, interviews, experiences, features, guides to away grounds and pure love of everything Barnet Football Club. Enjoy and digest and tell your friends.
Reckless - Potters Bar March 2014.
Oh Yes, thank you to"Al" without whom.......that is all
a central defender who is still to this day the most expensive player
ever purchased by the club. He spent nearly six years at Underhill
and captained the side to two play off semi finals
Heald was born in Enfield on 26th September 1971 and
started his career aged 11 at Leyton Orient and representing England
Schoolboys before joining Norwich City as a apprentice in 1988
featuring in their youth side.
joined Enfield in 1993 and spent a season at Southbury Road and
helped the club to narrowly miss out on promotion to the Conference
from the Diadora Premier League.
Still, then manager at Peterborough, snapped up his signature for
£35,000 where Greg, partnering another future Bee in Gary Breen,
featured in over 100 games scoring 6 goals.
August 1997 with Still now in charge at Underhill Heald put pen to
paper to sign for Barnet and the transfer fee of £130,00 is still a
was for a rather auspicious occasion that Greg made his Bees debut at
his former club Norwich City in the League Cup 1st round
1st leg on Tuesday 12th August 1997. Barnet
lost the game 2-1 but won an exciting return at Underhill winning 3-1
on the night (4-3 on aggregate) coming from a goal down at half time.
Greg scored the first before two goal Sean Devine intervened! The
line up at Carrow Road that evening in front of 5,429 was:
Harrison, Sammy Stockley, Greg Heald, Jon Ford, Lee Howarth, Michael
Harle, Warren Goodhind, Billy Manuel, Danny Mills, Sean Devine and
Kenny Charlery. Subs: David McDonald, Paul Wilson and Dean Samuels.
a central defence threesome with Ford and Howarth, which was a
trusted formula for Still, in the next round the Bees drew
Middlesbrough. At the Riverside Stadium Greg had, in my opinion, one
of his greatest games for Barnet. He superbly marshalled a defence
that was very unfortunate to concede a solitary goal. “Lee Harrison
in goal was fantastic that night and we were all so tight. In the
return at Barnet we held on for 45 minutes but lost 2-0. They were a
very good side with Emerson, Paul Merson, Andy Townsend and Mikkel
Beck who I was marking” said Greg.
Howarth and Heald
50 appearances and scoring five goals, Greg captained the team to a
seventh placed finish in Division Three that season and on a
ferocious afternoon at Underhill in the first leg of the play-off
semi against Colchester United he scored the only goal in a 1-0
Barnet win. “We should have finished them off there and then but
they were a very physical side.” The infamous second leg at layer
Road still wrangles with Bees fans because of a last minute penalty
appeal which, had it been awarded and we had scored, Barnet would
have been at Wembley. “It was a poor decision by Mr Heilbron”
says Greg “It was a stone wall penalty and not obstruction on Dean
Samuels and at 3-2 on aggregate at that point we could have won it on
away goals. We deserved more because we were down to 10 men after an
hour as I lost my defensive partner Lee Howarth who was sent off ”.
the first half of the following season due to an ankle and then a
back injury making only 19 first team appearances (2 goals), Greg
returned to the side in the New Year of 1999 at home to Shrewsbury
Town. “Mark Arber and Mike Basham had joined the club and we became
the defensive three”. The Bees finished a disappointing 16th
in the league but found their feet again the following season with
another play-off semi final against another of his old clubs in
Peterborough United. Barnet were frankly outplayed in the two legs
loosing on aggregate 5-1. Greg had featured in 46 games scoring five
Great Tackle v Torquay May 2001
2000-1 season was of course our relegation season back to the
Conference and Greg agrees with most that with a side full of such
good players it still amazes him that the club struggled. “I had
formed a very solid understanding with Mark Arber by then.” In the
final “loser loses all” game at Underhill against Torquay, in
which Greg scored incidentally, the match was interrupted in the
second half by two male streakers. Greg is rather famously captured
on film (see picture) lashing out at the trespassers. “I lost it for sure with
the idiots, I still believed we could get back in the game and
concentration could have been lost”. Many players I have spoken to
since then have admitted that Greg did rather have a small temper on
him! Heald make 45 appearances that season again scoring five times.
2001-2 Barnet finished 5th in their first season back in
the Conference - Greg featuring 44 times scoring twice. “That
was hard graft, some of the grounds and pitches we had to play on
were very difficult, many League standard players struggled ” he
said. In April 2002, he was selected for the England non-league
international side to play Holland at Yeovil's New Huish with team
mate Mark Gower.
final season at Underhill saw the club finish a disappointing 11th
but it was the first of two rebuilding sessions at the club that
culminated in the Championship win in 2004-5.
March 27th 2003 (Transfer Deadline Day), Barnet sold Heald and team
mate Wayne Purser to Leyton Orient for a joint fee of £18,000.
Not the greatest return financially for the club but they had
certainly got value for money with Heald's 100% plus input during his
six year stay. He had made a further 28 appearances scoring four
final game in Black and Amber was at home to Hereford United on
Saturday March 22nd 2003. The following line up won 2-1 with goals
from Neil Midgley and Junior Agogo in front of 1,588:
Naisbitt, Craig Pope, Greg Heald, Lee Pluck, Lee Flynn, Guy Butters,
Mark Gower, Keith Rowland, Fraser Toms, Wayne Purser and Neil
Midgley. Subs: Junior Agogo, Matt Langston, Chris Cashman, Lette
Baimass-Jellow and Ricky Millard.
was unable to secure a regular first team place at Orient, and in
March 2004 he was released from his contract to join Rochdale. After
a year at Spotland Greg briefly joined York City, “I was there two
days I think” laughs Greg, then Burton Albion but soon moved on
again to Ashton United in the Unibond Premier. “ I went part time
for a short while”.
back south Greg joined Aldershot for a season before he
started to study hard for his degree in Sports Science and prepare
for life after football as a teacher “ I have a wife and young
family to consider now”. To support this he had a spell as a Fire
Officer based at Potters Bar Fire Station while turning out part time
for Thurrock before a year later accepting the position of Youth Team
Coach at Adams Park Wycombe for a while. “I loved it but it was
full hands on 7 days a week”
full time teaching at Latimar School in Enfield he still couldn't
resist one last fling with the game and briefly joined Enfield Town
at the age of 37. Greg is today a PE teacher and Head of Year at a
school in Harpendon.
Heald is another player that our club was fortunate to witness not
only from a playing point of view but from a “supporters player”
point of view too. Always approachable with an infectious sense of
humour he still follows our fixtures and was a fairly low key regular
visitor to Underhill in its final years. He should be welcomed any
time with open arms at the Hive and who knows he might just offer to
pull the jersey on again even at 42.