In 2005-5 League Football returned to Underhill with Barnet playing some of the most exhilarating football since the days of Barry Fry - this time however it was overseen with superb efficiency and organisation skills.

After the heartache of the 2003/4 play off Semi Final defeat at the hands of Shrewsbury Town Barnet Manager Paul Fairclough, whilst preparing for another assault on the title, quickly introduced some fresh young talent to his Underhill squad. Midfielders Dwane Lee from Exeter City, Dean Sinclair from Norwich City and Nicky Bailey from Sutton Utd were the new blood along with the highly rated winger Richard Graham from old adversaries Kettering Town.
Dwane Lee
Nicky Bailey

Richard Graham
Dean Sinclair

To set the scene – the queues outside the Odeon Barnet were for Troy and Harry Potter 3 and the Government announced that smoking was to be banned in all pubic enclosed areas. You Tube was launched, and coverage of the funeral of Pope John Paul II attracted most “hits”.

1,300 turned out at Underhill for the comfortable opening 3-1 victory over Forest Green. The following Tuesday, the team came back to earth from Farnborough Town with a 0-0 draw. With the Bees fifth in the table the long trip to Halifax Town looked wasted by half time at 0-2 down. The Fairclough interval team talk was perfection as three second half goals won the day. The pick? A wonderful controlled lob from ace striker Giuliano Grazioli – a quite stunning finish!
Giuliano Grazioli

Northwich Victoria visited Underhill on Saturday 28th August bottom of the league on minus 8 points having been deducted 10 points in all due to the club going into administration. They travelled back to Cheshire still on minus 8 as Barnet ran out comfortable 4-0 winners in front of 1,422 fans.
The Bank Holiday Monday visit to a wet and windy Canvey Island saw the Bees take over top spot in the Conference table as the fans sung “We are top of the league and that’s where we belong”. Dean Sinclair flat footed two defenders before shooting past goalkeeper Potter for the only goal of the game after 27 minutes. From that point in the season we never really looked back. “We are a class act” said Chairman Tony Kleanthous.

That phrase was an understatement as the first visitors to Underhill in September would agree. Morecambe were nonchalantly dispatched 5-1 with another two goals from Grazioli. The news that the popular defender Chris Plummer had signed for Peterborough Utd fuelled rumours that the Chairman and Manager were ready to sign more players to bolster an already exciting squad. The same team grabbed a 2-0 win at Tamworth the following week then a 4-1 at home to Gravesend & Northfleet – Liam Hatch scoring twice against his former club.
Liam Hatch

Six wins on the trot had placed Barnet three points ahead of Aldershot and Accrington Stanley in the table but the recent death of the enigma that was Brian Clough was the talk of the football world and obviously Brian’s son Nigel, player manager at Burton, next visitors to Underhill would be in the spotlight of the media. The Barnet 2 Burton 3 result on the night was probably the right result for football but it also acted as a sharp reminder to Barnet that even with their superb start to the season they were not to become complacent.
The following Saturday 25th September saw an unchanged line up help the Bees travel back from Scarborough with a 1-1 draw safely tucked away. The Bees sat proudly at the top of the Conference table on 23 points and Giuliano Grazioli headed the goal charts with 9 goals.

Into October and a 2-2 draw at home to Woking was followed by arguably the best away performance of the campaign a brilliant 3-0 win at Exeter City.
Bailey and Grazioli Celebrate

The Sky Cameras were at Underhill on Saturday 9th October to witness the complete demolition of John Still’s Dagenham & Redbridge. Even without top scorer Grazioli, five goals hit the back of the Daggers net – the best? The eventual goal of the season from Nicky Bailey. Its was also voted officially the finest goal to be scored in the 2004/5 Conference season.

Next up was the eagerly awaited visit to Brunton Park the home of 13 match unbeaten Carlisle Utd. The second best ever Conference attendance of 9,215 saw an Ian Hendon penalty, an own goal from Kevin Gray and a Dwane Lee header secured the points in a 3-1 win and put the Bees six points clear at the top of the table. 
Ian Hendon

Paul Fairclough said “I am very proud of my young players.”
Newly relegated York City struggling to find some form visited Underhill next during a mini monsoon. Over 2,500 fans enjoyed four Barnet goals without reply in a frankly one sided match. The day was also the day the East Terrace was infiltrated by two nomad Sunderland fans who sang a catchy little song changing the words slightly to fit the mood of the moment and the Bees. It’s title? “We’re On Our Way”. It was adopted immediately and became the Barnet fans anthem for the remainder of the season.

An announcement was made from Chairman Tony Kleanthous that he intended to avoid cutting his “Barnet Fair” (that’s hair to those of you who are unsure) until the Bees were toppled from the top of the Conference table. His trademark crisp white shirts would all soon have very dirty collars!
Tony Kleanthous

A 1-1 draw at Hereford and two victories over Accrington at home and Aldershot away were the tally for the month - Simon King the latest hero with a stunning late winning goal at the Recreation Ground.
After 18 league games Barnet were clear by seven points from Carlisle and a massive eleven from third placed Halifax Town having suffered just one League defeat. The Conference were frightened!

The three three goals in a game victories over Leigh RMI, Crawley Town, which featured a Dean Sinclair volley of the highest quality, and Gravesend was somewhat marred by a disastrous Christmas week. Defeats at home to Tamworth (0-3) and horror of horrors away at rivals Stevenage Borough (1-2) certainly spoilt the Turkey and trimmings. Lee Roache saved the blushes scoring in the 1-0 win over Scarborough to complete an eventful 2004 to say the least.
Lee Roache

A new year and Sky TV again paid Underhill a visit to catch the second instalment of the Stevenage/Barnet debate. Grazioli's opener was levelled but the drama was acted out to the very last. Ismail Yakubu took the applause with a powerful winning goal header.
Yakubu Scores against Steveange

Two 1-1 draws at Woking and Burton were split by a 1-0 home victory over Exeter City to leave Barnet a massive 17 points ahead of Carlisle Utd in the table who had two games in hand. Surely simply maintaining a steady run of form was all that was required for the Bees to win the title and regain their Football League status now?

February and March
In February and March however a few jitters started to appear as defeats at Hereford, York City and a real shocker at Accrington (4-1) seemed to affect the teams belief albeit temporarily. The boys redeemed themselves by crashing in 13 goals goals in a little over a week with 3-0 victories over Leigh RMI and Crawley and a sensational 7-1 crushing of Farnborough. PF told press after the game “I felt sorry for Farnborough. We just stepped up a gear after their goal” A brilliant Grazioli hatrick was summed up - “He is an artist!”
A 2-0 victory at Forest Green Rovers witnessed by over 1,000 travelling Bees fans and a 1-0 win over Canvey Island – in front of the best Underhill league attendance so far 3,759 left the Bees just one win away from the title.
Giuliano Grazioli

Paul Fairclough was awarded the Manager Of The Month Award for March and folklore says that when any manager receives this award then his teams next game will result in a defeat. Hordes of Bees fans travelled up the M6 full of anticipation and excitement but that folklore again raised its ugly head. The result was a 0-2 defeat at Northwich Victoria’s borrowed home at Witton Albion.
Paul Fairclough

The day of Saturday 9th April 2005, arrived and 3,924 Underhill souls eagerly awaited the start of the Halifax Town game. 0-1 down after 10 minutes, the Bees found their wings and with “We’re On Our Way” echoing around the ground the lads eventually ran out comfortable 3-1 winners. The third goal signalling the unfurling of a massive “Champions” banner behind the North Terrace and the party began. As the final whistle sounded tears of joy were on the faces of some of the most hardened supporters as the players soaked up the applause on a lap of honour. We Are The Champions by Queen blasted from the grounds PA system and indeed Barnet FC were the champions - furthermore they had achieved their goal in style. “What a feeling, people have no idea how much the boys wanted this. The club deserves it purely for the hard work we have all put in” said Ben Strevens. Giuliano Grazioli told reporters “The Manager told us today to go out and enjoy ourselves and everything will take care of itself and it did.”

That really should be the end of the tale but there were the little matter of three more fixtures to fulfil including the visit of Carlisle Utd to Underhill when the trophy would be presented and it would become official.

Firstly a truly wonderfully cheerful weekend away in Morecambe was experienced by the players and many supporters (cough cough!), the 1-1 result was purely superficial you understand.
Barnet’s last home game of the season was against their aforementioned table topping rivals. This was a game that two months earlier had been thought to have been the great decider but the large attendance was mostly there to see the official presentation of the trophy. It was to be a night of sheer pantomime and high drama as Carlisle finished the game with nine men as Barnet were piling forward at the death in desperate search of an equalising goal. That man Grazioli obliged by brilliantly hooking the ball over his head, beyond the groping Glennon and into the far corner of the net, sheer Roy Of The Rovers stuff! Captain Ian Hendon collected the fantastic piece of silverware - the whole squad, backroom staff, Paul Fairclough and Tony Kleanthous strolled around the pitch taking the applause and the adulation, it was simply magical.
Ian Hendon with Trophy

The very last game of the season was to take place at Dagenham & Redbridge and ex Bees Manager John Still presented the squad with champagne before the game. A lacklustre game from a Barnet point of view was inevitable. For the record It finished 0-2 to the Daggers.
There we have it - Barnet had won the league by 12 points winning 26 games, drawing eight and loosing eight. They scored 90 goals conceding 28. Simon King and Simon Clist both made 40 league appearance for the club followed by Dean Sinclair with 39 and Richard Graham with 38. Giuliano Grazioli was awarded the supporters Player Of The Year and the League Golden Boot. In the National Game Awards organised by the Non League Paper Paul Fairclough was named Manager Of The Year. Nicky Bailey, Simon King, Dean Sinclair and Ismail Yakubu had represented their country in the England Non League XI.

The comparison between the Championship teams of 1991 and 2005 is a subject that will always be fiercely argued by those who have been lucky enough to experience both historic occasions. The facts are the 1990/1 victory was a much more tense affair as the trophy was literally won on the very last day of the season, in a game that the Bees were behind in twice, by a squad full of big names, playing the style of gung ho all out attacking football that every club would dearly love to be able to play steered by a Chairman and Manager with massive egos and public personalities whereas the 2004/5 campaign was basically the power, resilience and sheer professionalism shown by a well disciplined unit to lead a league table from start to finish steered by a utter gentleman of a Manager completely focused going about his job with composure, calm and efficiency. Both squads will go down in Barnet FC history for the same achievement but each in totally different styles, however like works of art they both have their skill, creativity and beauty.


Forest Green Rovers H W 3-1 1,321 Grazioli 2 Graham
Farnborough Town A D 0-0 1,069
Halifax Town A W 3-2 1,382 Hatch Grazioli Own Goal
Northwich Victoria H W 4-0 1,422 Hendon (pen) Sinclair Hatch Grazioli
Canvey Island A W 1-0 1,230 Sinclair
Morecambe H W 5-1 1,787 Grazioli 2 Hendon (pen) King Bailey
Tamworth A W2-0 1,199 Sinclair Grazioli
Gravesend & Northfleet H W 4-1 2,235 Hatch 2 Grazioli Sinclair
Burton Albion H L 2-3 1,919 Sinclair Hatch
Scarborough A D 1-1 1,542 Grazioli
Woking H D 2-2 2,106 Grazioli 2
Exeter City A W 3-0 3,589 Lee Graham Sinclair
Dagenham & Red H W 5-0 1,894 Hendon 2 (1 pen) Roache Strevens Bailey
Carlisle United A W 3-1 9,215 Hendon (pen) Lee Own Goal
York City H W 4-0 2,501 Bailey Lee Yakubu Sinclair
Hereford United A D 1-1 3,645 Grazioli
Accrington Stanley H W 3-0 1,990 King Graham Hatch
Aldershot Town A W 3-2 3,494 Grazioli Graham King
Leigh RMI H W 3-2 1,961 Grazioli Bailey Roche
Crawley Town A W 3-1 2,949 Grazioli 2 Sinclair
Gravesend & Northfleet A W 3-1 1,707 Hatch Bailey Sinclair
Tamworth H L 0-3 2,507
Stevenage Borough A L 1-2 4,307 Grazioli
Scarborough H W 1-0 2,504 Roache
Stevenage Borough H W 2-1 3,520 Grazioli Yakubu
Woking A D 1-1 2,801 Roache
Exeter City H W 1-0 3,489 Grazioli
Burton Albion A D 1-1 1,685 Roache
Hereford United H L 0-2 2,668
Accrington Stanley A L 1-4 1,841 Grazioli
Aldershot Town H W 2-1 2,839 Strevens Grazioli
York City A L 1-2 1,926 Grazioli
Leigh RMI A W 3-0 402 Grazioli 2 Hatch
Crawley Town H W 3-0 2,302 Sinclair Hatch Lee
Farnborough Town H W 7-1 2,418 Grazioli 3 Batt Roache Strevens Sinclair
Forest Green Rovers A W 2-0 1,665 Strevens Hatch
Canvey Island H W 1-0 3,759 Strevens
Northwich Victoria A L 0-2 1,552
Halifax Town H W 3-1 3,924 Strevens King Grazioli
Morecambe A D 1-1 2,385 Hatch
Carlisle United H D 1-1 3,687 Grazioli
Dagenham & Red A L 0-2 1,923

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