Barrow A.F.C.

Barrow A.F.C.

Infobox Football club
clubname = Barrow

fullname = Barrow Association Football Club
nickname = The Bluebirds, The Ziggers (pre-1970s)
shortname =
founded = 1901
dissolved =
ground = Holker Street
capacity = 4256 [ [ Stadia can cater for hundreds more fans] North West Evening Mail; 23-07-08; Accessed 23-07-08 ] (1,000 seated)
chairman = flagicon|England Brian Keen
manager = flagicon|England David Bayliss and Darren Sheridan
league = Conference National
season = 2007-08
position = Conference North, 5th

Barrow A.F.C. are a football team based in the town of Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, England. Following their recent promotion, they will be playing in the Conference National for the 2008–09 season.

The team are known by their fans as "The Bluebirds", owing to their blue and white kit. Attendances vary - the record of 16,874 was set against Swansea City in the FA Cup Third Round in 1954 - but during the 1990s and 2000s the average has remained consistently between 800 and 1,100. The 2007-08 average attendance was 1,084.


Barrow AFC were founded on July 16th 1901 at the old Drill Hall (later the Palais) in the strand and played at The Strawberry Ground, Roosecote and Ainslie Street before moving to their current stadium, Holker Street, in 1909. After early years spent in the Lancashire Combination, the club became founder members of the Football League Third Division North in 1921.

Barrow remained in the lowest tier of the Football League pyramid for all but three seasons. During this time, they remained relatively obscure, only occasionally coming to national attention. Their F.A. Cup Third Round game against the then Football League champions Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 1958-59 season is particularly notable.

After finishing third in Division 4 in the 1966-67 season and gaining promotion, Barrow enjoyed their highest ever league finish in the 1967-68 season, ending up eighth in Division 3, with the club briefly leading the table.

Barrow remained in the third flight of English football for another two season before returning to the basement in 1970. In 1972, Barrow were voted out of the Football League, in favour of Hereford United, and joined the Northern Premier League. They later became founder members of the Football Conference (then known as the Alliance Premier League), the only national division in non-league football. After this, Barrow spent periods of time in both the Football Conference and the Northern Premier League.

The Wilkie years

Ray Wilkie took the manager's job at Barrow part way through the 1985-86 season when the club were struggling near the foot of the Alliance Premier league. It was too late to save the team from relegation, but on Wilkie's appointment Barrow AFC embarked on their most successful period in non-league football.

Barrow eventually won promotion back to the re-named Vauxhall Conference in 1988-1989, finishing champions of the Northern Premier. Barrow achieved two respectable finishes in the Conference - 10th in 1989-1990 and 14th the season after. Unfortunately Wilkie was forced to step down during the 1991-1992 due to health problems. That season Barrow would be relegated back to the Northern Premier League.

As well as league success, Wilkie brought glory on the cup trail. In 1988, Barrow reached the FA Trophy semi-final, losing to Enfield after a replay. The first leg at Holker Street attracted 6,002 supporters - still a non-league record for the club. The season after, Barrow reached the 1st round of the FA Cup, losing out 3-1 at Rotherham's Millmoor. In early 1991, Barrow reached the 3rd round of the FA Cup, losing 1-0 away to Third Division high fliers Bolton Wanderers, watched by thousands of travelling supporters.

In 1990 they won non-league football's most prestigious competition, the FA Trophy, beating Leek Town 3-0 in the final at Wembley Stadium, London. Scoring the first and third goals was Kenny Gordon, a player who was not normally found on the score sheet, and who was playing his final game for his hometown club before emigrating to Australia.

Wilkie's successes can partly be attributed to getting the best out of striker Colin Cowperthwaite, who had been at the club since 1977. He scored the second goal in the FA Trophy final, but Colin had already become a legendary player at Holker Street, finishing as top scorer in each of Wilkie's five full seasons - as well as seven of the previous eight. His goalscoring exploits were coupled with a no-nonsense approach to playing the game and "Cowps" became the quintissential target man. Colin is still highly regarded at Holker Street, winning a recent poll to find Barrow supporter's favourite player in the non-league era. Cowperthwaite holds Barrow's all-time appearance record (705) and is the club's all-time leading goalscorer (282)

Recent history

In 1998, the club entered financial difficulties following the departure of Liverpool based chairman Stephen Vaughan. In January 1999, the club were the subject of a compulsory winding up order and a liquidator was appointed to run the club whilst trying to establish who the legal owner of the Holker Street ground was. A new members company was formed with the aim of providing financial support to the club and with the long term intention of taking over the running of the football club. In the summer of 1999 the club were thrown out of the Football Conference. After a long dispute and thanks to the support of the Football Association, Barrow were allowed entrance into the Northern Premier League for the 1999-2000 season, almost a month after it had commenced. This reduced time in which to play their fixtures led to the scheduling of Barrow v Winsford United on December 30 1999, recognised as the last professional or semi-professional game in the UK of the millennium (assuming the year 2000 is considered to be part of the third millennium AD). The legal disputes over the ownership of Holker Street were finally resolved in August 2002 and the new members company bought the Holker St Stadium from the liquidator. In 2003 the Football Association finally allowed the 'football membership' to be transferred to the new company.

In April 2004, Barrow defeated local rivals Workington A.F.C. in a two-legged final in the UniBond Presidents (League) Cup. The game finished 6-6 on aggregate, Barrow winning on away goals. In 2004-2005, Barrow AFC became founder members of yet another division, this time the Conference North.

The following two seasons Barrow showed poor form in the league, narrowly escaping relegation at the end of 2006–07. Compounding this was the jailing of defender James Cotterill for an assault committed on the pitch. In a First Round FA Cup game Cotterill punched Bristol Rovers striker Sean Rigg, the incident being missed by the referee but caught by the Match of the Day cameras, resulting in Cotterill being the only English player in recent history to be jailed for an offence on the pitch. [cite web|url=|title=FA Cup assault footballer jailed|publisher=BBC Online|date=2007-01-11|accessdate=2008-06-19]

On 12 November 2007, after two years in the job, Phil Wilson was dismissed as manager. Although the sacking came two days after a good 1-1 draw in the FA Cup First Round against A.F.C. Bournemouth, it was the club's poor league form which cost the manager his job. Barrow's first team affairs are currently in the hands of David Bayliss and Darren Sheridan who have been appointed as the new management team. They led Barrow from 20th place to 5th, ensuring a place in the play offs for promotion to the Conference National. Barrow won the semi-final against A.F.C. Telford United 4–0 on aggregate, before beating Stalybridge Celtic in the playoff final, held at the Pirelli Stadium, Burton upon Trent. [cite web|url=|title= Blue Square North/South play-offs|publisher=BBC Sport Online|date=2008-05-11|accessdate=2008-06-19]


:"As of 23 August 2008."cite web
title = Barrow
url =
publisher = FootballSquads
accessdate = 2008-08-23

Current squad

Notable former players

* Colin Cowperthwaite
* Grant Holt
* Kenny Lowe
* Neil Doherty
* Glenn Murray
* George Summerbee
* Peter McDonnell
* Barry Diamond
* Jimmy Shankly


As of 5th July, 2008. Only league matches are counted.


1901-1920 (Non League)

* Lancashire Combination Division Two - runners up (2) 1904/05, 1910/11
* Lancashire Combination Division One - champions (1) 1920/21; - runners up (1) 1913/14
* FA Cup - First Round Twice

1921-1972 (Football League)

* Division Four - Promotion (3) 1966/67
* Best league performance - 8th in Division Three 1967/68
* FA Cup - Third Round Eight Times
* League Cup - Third Round Twice

1972- (Non League)

* FA Trophy - winners (1) 1989/90
* Northern Premier League - champions (3) 1983/84, 1988/89, 1997/98 - runners up (1) 2002/03
* Best league performance - 8th in Alliance Premier League 1981/82
* FA Cup - Third Round 1990/91
* Northern Premier League Shield - winners (1) 1984/85
* Northern Premier League Challenge Cup - runners up (1) 1987/88
* Northern Premier League Presidents Cup - winners (2) 2001/02, 2003/04
* Northern Premier League Chairmans Cup - winners (1) 2000/01
* Lancashire Junior Cup - winners (1) 1980/81
* Cambrian Cup - winners (2) 1982/83, 1983/84
* Conference North Play-off winners 2008


External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Unofficial Fans Website and Forums]

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