In 1989/90 Barnet were to go head to head until the very last game with Brian Little’s relegated Darlington in another thrilling season full of excitement, goals, incident and heartache.
Stan Flashman and Barry Fry had eventually over the last year put together an impressive array of talent which had won the Club Call Cup and Wendy Fair Capital League and finished 8th in the Conference.
Barry Fry
Stan Flashman

A new face to the fold was goalkeeper Peter Guthrie a club record £60,000 signing from Tottenham and he was to share the goalkeeping duties with crowd favourite Gary Phillips who was to return from Reading in December. With the loss of Wayne Turner and Richard Nugent with season-long back injuries this left full backs Phil Stacey and Paul Wilson usually flanking a combination of central defenders from George Reilly, Andy Beattie, Gary Poole and new utility players Hakan Hayretten from Orient and Mick Bodley from Chelsea via Northampton Town.
Oh he's a Bee - Micky Bodley

Fry had access to a midfield possessing power, skill and pace in Geoff Cooper newly signed from Brighton, a long term Fry target Phil Gridelet from Hendon, Derek Payne, John Docker, Nicky Ironton and Edwin Stein. As ever the attack minded Fry’s striking department was formidable with the likes of Gary Bull, Dave Regis, Frank Murphy and a young man who was to make an incredible impact at this level Andrew Clarke.

To set the scene - The Berlin Wall was dismantled, Chinese Students and Demonstrators were massacred in Tiananmen Square and blaspheming Salman Rushdie went into hiding. Shortly after the Hillsborough disaster Merseyside was united at Wembley and Liverpool beat Everton 3-2 in the FA Cup final while Arsenal won the 1st Division Championship.
At the cinema we were watching Batman, When Harry Met Sally and Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade while singing along to “Ride On Time” by Black Box, “Eternal Flame” by The Bangles and “The Theme To Prisoner Cell Block H” by Lynne Hamilton.

The preseason friendly list included Underhill visits from Cambridge Utd, Leicester City and a Manchester Utd X1. Eight wins and a draw was the return giving the strikers some shooting practice as the team rattled in 32 goals while conceding just 8.
An opening day 2-1 defeat at Altrincham wasn’t helped by the unnecessary sending offs of Stein and Stacy who were both fined by the club, but amends were made by back to back Underhill thrashings of Cheltenham Town (4-0) and Chorley (5-0). Bull, Clarke and Regis scored for fun in front of an aggregate of over 5,000 spectators. After Two wins, two draws and two defeats in September the Bees were sitting in 6th spot in the table 7 points behind clear leaders Darlington.

Phil Stacey

October bought three league wins out of four and included two rare Phil Stacey goals - the winner at Farnborough and one alongside Andy Clarke at Boston Utd. These results had elevated Barnet to 4th place by the beginning of November albeit well off the pace but they set off up the A1 to Darlington with confidence high. A magnificent all round performance by the Bees resulted in a 2-1 win in front of nearly 4,000. The diminutive reserve striker David Gipp scored with a header and then up stepped Gary Poole with a delightful curling free kick. The Bees received a standing ovation from the home fans and I was proud to be one of the 200 or so who travelled. The result was even more satisfying as we were without strikers David Regis and Andy Clarke!

Gary Poole

Frankly the clubs recent FA Cup record had been poor but a 1st round proper visit to Ashton Gate and Joe Jordan’s Bristol City was the reward for some hard work in the first 4 qualifying rounds. A Gary Bull goal at Bishops Stortford allowed Newmarket Town to visit Underhill where the Bees won it 4-2 with goals from Murphy (2) Clarke and Bull. Next up was visit to Cambridge City and an end to end game finished 4-3 thanks to a George Reilly winner. Beazer Homes league Burton Albion then held us 2-2 at Eton Park but another ‘Bully’ winner saw as through in the replay.
George Reilly
City were sitting in 2nd place in Division 3 ( two divisions higher in those days) one point behind arch rivals Bristol Rovers. At the final whistle the 7,538 spectators applauded the Bees from the pitch as after going 2-0 down in the first half they played some scintillating football in the second and were so unlucky not to score. Mick Bodley and Phil Gridelet were outstanding while substitute Andrew Clarke was simply magnificent.
Phil Gridelet
Andrew Clarke

December started with the club in 3rd spot and closely fought 2-3 defeat at old adversaries Kettering Town. A typical full of flair Frank Murphy hatrick in the 4-1 mauling of Farnborough at Underhill put the club back on track. A fun filled nine point Christmas comprised two wins over Enfield and another over Sutton Utd (4-1). Two Clarke goals were more than enough against the E’s on Boxing Day at Underhill, while an absolute screamer of a free kick by Geoff Cooper was the highlight of a 3-1 win at Southbury Road - Regis and Murphy scored the others.
Geoff Cooper

Darlington had stuttered a little over the festive period and the New Year table saw Barnet in 3rd place one point behind Kettering and three behind new leaders Macclesfield Town. The second of only two league games in January was a 1-0 victory at Kidderminster this was because most of the month was taken up with ‘Cup’ football. A poor display and a 0-2 defeat at Weymouth in the 1st round of the FA Trophy was followed by a 3-2 win at home to Kettering in the Bob Lord Trophy 2nd round. In the 3rd round two Bull goals were not enough as Yeovil Town ran out 3-2 winners.
Four successive wins - Merthyr Tydfil (4-0), Kettering (4-1), Fisher (4-1) and Northwich Vics (2-0) during the first half of February had finally helped the Bees to top spot in the table for the first time and 3,000 plus attendances were becoming a regular occurrence at Underhill. A 3-1 hiccup at Welling Utd at the end of the month went unpunished as 2nd placed Darlington also lost.
In March new signing Paul Harding from Enfield quickly made his mark scoring in the 2-1 home victory over Kidderminster and followed up with two wonderful goals against Wycombe Wanderers also at Underhill. A total of 3,707 paid to see the game but Harding’s 35 yard looping volley was worth the entry fee alone.
Paul Harding

The plot thickened as Darlington arrived at Underhill on a good run of form and accompanied by the best part of 800 followers on Saturday 31st March. The game presented Barnet with the opportunity to go 7 points clear at the top. An all ticket 5,880 saw The Quakers win 2-0 with a thoroughly professional performance and close the gap to one point with no less than three games in hand. It had been a “6 pointer” in the truest sense.
A solid performance at Stafford Rangers (1-1) and a home victory (1-0) over Yeovil Town followed by a well fought 1-1 draw at Holker Street Barrow allowed Barnet to enter the finishing straight still in touch - just. Three games to go and Darlington led Barnet by 5 points. After the thrashing of Cheltenham 5-1 at Feethams the champagne had to be put on ice as a David Gipp goal beat Altrincham at Underhill in front of over 2,500 fans. Five points still the difference, still two games remaining and the competition still on a knife-edge.
Barnet had away games at Macclesfield and relegation threatened Chorley while Darlington faced a trip to Kidderminster Harriers and a last day visit to Welling Utd. With Kiddy grabbing a last minute winner in a 3-2 win and the Bees winning at Moss Rose through a last gasp goal by that man again David Gipp the race was thrown wide open. Just two points the gap one game left. David Gipp was becoming a marked man in the North East!
Barnet played superbly at Victory Park to record a brilliant 4-1 win (Clarke 2 Bull 2) and relegate Chorley to the Northern Premier League but the news filtered through that The Quakers had also secured a Victory down in Kent to pip the Bees to the title by just two points - lightening had struck for the third time!
Home Shirt 1989-90

Looking back, even without success this had been an excellent season with a very settled team - Fry had used only 23 players in all. The 85 points won by Barnet were more than Lincoln City or Maidstone Utd achieved in actually winning the title in previous years and the 81 league goals ensured we were the Conferences leading marksmen for the third time in four years. Gary Bull led the scoring charts with 27 followed by Andrew Clarke 24, Frank Murphy 19 and David Regis 14. Attendances were up by 20% and the average at Underhill was a superb 2,916, the best for 25 years. This campaign and fine set of statistics was the dress rehearsal for the clubs greatest hour the following season.

Altrincham A 1-2 748 Regis
Cheltenham Town H 4-0 2,545 Bull 2 (1 pen) Clarke Regis
Chorley H 5-0 2,523 Payne 2 Bull Clark Regis
Sutton United A 3-1 1,296 Regis 2 Cooper
Merthyr Tydfil A 1-2 2,003 Bull (pen)
Boston United H 1-2 2,329 Reilly
Fisher Athletic A 2-1 1,395 Murphy 2
Runcorn H 2-2 2,226 Bull (pen) Murphy
Welling United H 1-1 2,013 Reilly
Farnborough Town A 1-0 1,152 Stacey
Telford United H 2-1 2,445 Bull (pen) Murphy
Boston United A 2-1 1,565 Stacey Clarke
Yeovil Town A 2-3 1,337 Cooper Bull (pen)
Macclesfield Town H 0-0 2,309
Darlington A 2-1 3,886 Gipp Poole
Barrow H 1-0 2,552 Bull
Stafford Rangers H 1-1 2,303 Poole
Kettering Town A 2-3 2,204 Murphy Reilly
Farnborough Town H 4-1 2,075 Murphy 3 Clarke
Wycombe Wanderers A 0-1 2,128
Enfield H 2-0 4,481 Clarke 2
Sutton United H 4-1 2,726 Clarke Bull Stein Regis
Enfield A 3-1 2,212 Cooper Regis Murphy
Kidderminster Harriers A 1-0 1,438 Clarke
Merthyr Tydfil H 4-0 2,326 Cooper Regis Bull Clarke
Northwich Victoria A 2-0 703 Bull Clarke
Kettering Town H 4-1 3,480 Clarke 2 Gridelet Bull
Fisher Athletic H 4-1 3,103 Beattie Gridelet Regis Bull
Welling United A 1-3 2,062 Gridelet
Northwich Victoria H 1-0 3,009 Gridelet
Kidderminster Harriers H 2-1 3,212 Harding Own Goal
Cheltenham Town A 0-2 1,252
Runcorn A 2-2 919 Gridelet Clarke
Telford United A 3-1 1,317 Bull 2 Clarke
Wycombe Wanderers H 2-0 3,707 Harding 2
Darlington H 0-2 5,880
Stafford Rangers A 1-1 1,420 Clarke
Yeovil Town H 1-0 2,425 Poole
Barrow A 1-1 1,584 Stein
Altrincham H 1-0 2,575 Gipp
Macclesfield Town A 1-0 1,180 Gipp
Chorley A 4-1 1,291 Clarke 2 Bull 2 (1 pen)

1 comment:

  1. Great piece. My favourite ever Bees team and a great bunch of blokes too. Gary Poole's free kick at Darlo sent us all mental, as it was only 5 mins from the end. Poole would always have a chat after a game and was a top lad, Geoff Cooper offered to drive our mini bus to Barrow, Phil Gridelet would always be last to leave the bar and I loved this side. Bristol City was a great day out too, even though we lost. Guthrie cost us the league that year.