BARNET v PRESTON NORTH END 1965 - 50 Years Ago!

50 years ago this month Barnet were involved in the Third Round of the FA Cup against the might of then 1st Division Preston North End

This article was written by Jonathan Lang a Bees fan of long standing. Jonathan lives in Sheffield where he is a church warden and aid worker but still manages to get to a few games, circumstances allowing. He was a noted sports journalist from 1964-1996 and at one time sports editor of the Finchley Press. His first game at Underhill as a spectator was in September 1962, a 5-2 drubbing of Borehamwood in a friendly match. He recalls  the momentous FA Cup tie with Preston North End at Underhill in 1965 in a style reminiscent of 1960’s reporting. Thank you Jonathan.


Saturday 9th January 1965
FA Cup 3rd Round at Underhill
Attendance 10,861

Three options await all fans; their favourites will win, lose or draw.

Even though we might indulge in a spot of fantasy football and believe – in our case – that Barnet will walk off every field of battle as victors, the reality is that leaving Underhill having witnessed defeat is not always a cause for sorrow. Such was the occasion on January 9th 1965.

I had bunked off from professional duty at Summers Lane as sports editor of the Finchley Press to be a Barnet fan among a crowd of over 10,000 to watch unfold an epic drama – our 3-2 defeat by Preston North End in our then first appearance in the FA Cup, 3rd round (proper).
I stood, as you could then, in my familiar spot what was the East Terrace (or as we knew it then the Popular Side) the Athenian League champions looked like being blown away before putting the wind up their rivals and then falling to the ultimate own goal hammer blow I have seen in five decades of watching our national game.

Preston, their place in the annals of soccer history assured as they were first league champions (unbeaten) in 1888/9 (and FA Cup winners too) arrived in town with their fans still basking in the glory of their previous FA Cup match – at Wembley when West Ham United beat them by 3 goals to 2. But the Lancashire club’s players knew they needed to be at the top of their game. If not, they could be on the slippery slope – our notorious drop (then 8 feet or 2.43 metres) had featured in the pre match newspaper Bally Hoo and I still have the special edition of the Evening Standard produced that morning with our game the front page feature.

My brother, Jeremy, took my place at Finchley FC while my professional rivals John Motson and Roger Jones joined their boss, the late Barnet Press sports editor Bill White, to ensure ‘Argus and his team provided the best coverage of all for the local club’s biggest FA Cup day.
Underhill was heaving with expectation, which soon turned to fear of an awful drubbing as North End went 2 goals up inside the first five minutes, through Howard Kendall and Brian Godfrey. However when it was Barnet’s turn to kick uphill they were the ones in the ascent with Roger Figg netting within a minute of the restart. When Don Whyte cashed in on a Terry Casey pass to level the scores at 2 each after 52 minutes Preston were the ones rocking as the black and amber braves responded to the exhortations of their jubilant hoards and took the fight to them. Could the impossible happen? We all believed it would until fate intervened.



Figg received a leg injury and was no more than a passenger as the tumultuous tie drew to a close, making it effectively 10 v 11. So great was the throng that Barnet manager Dexter Adams, now in his late 80's but still sharp as a tack, recalled he could not make it from his customary place in the main stand in time to orchestrate from pitch side the late rearguard action. He had perceived, so rightly, the danger as thrusts down the right flank and got Reg Finch to give extra protection to left back Jeff Voyce. But with Figg just making up the numbers by now the plan came unstuck as Finch, rather than Whyte went up the middle and the door to defeat was ajar for the gut-busting hosts. With five minutes left on the watch Preston poured down the slope, got clear on the right and the telling cross was met not by a man in white but Terry Casey, and the Welsh international’s attempted clearance arrowed into his own net past a helpless Johnny Barr.

It was the mortal thrust to our hearts – the field of dreams had become a nightmare and Messrs Jones, Lang and Motson, along with those who had seen “Proud” Preston so nearly undone by the pride of Underhill had to wait until last season (2006-7) for Barnet to make club history by reaching the fourth round on the worlds greatest cup competition for the first time.

Barnet line up: Johnny Barr – Bob Warman, Jeff Voyce - Les Picking, Dennis Roach, Terry Casey – Don Whyte, Tony Brimacombe, Roger Figg, Tony Harding, Reg Finch.

....Jonathan Lang.....