Just fifteen weeks after Barnet’s goal-fest against Lincoln City up at Sincil Bank signalled the end of an ultimately disappointing first season back in the Conference, the 46 game marathon begins once again on Saturday with a trip to Chester.
The reprieves of Chester and Dartford from relegation from the Conference Premier, thanks to Hereford’s expulsion for financial irregularities and Salisbury’s demotion due to debt problems, gives the fixture list a more familiar look than usual at the start of the season.
It just goes to show what a perilous state some clubs further down the football pyramid are in. Credit to Tony Kleanthous that Barnet seem to be in a comparatively comfortable and stable financial position, let’s not forget that there is a lot for Barnet fans to be thankful for!
I recall fondly the reverse fixture against Chester last season, when the Bees won their first competitive game at The Hive 3-0. We played really well, with Luke Gambin scoring the opener before two more goals made it a carnival atmosphere come the final whistle.
The manager has spoken repeatedly during pre-season of the need for Barnet fans to unite behind the team and cheer the Bees on to victory.
We have the chance to do just that at what looks like a tricky first home game against newly relegated Bristol Rovers, followed by another difficult home game against Lincoln. Another goal-fest would be fine. A 1-0 win for Barnet would be even better.
If you’ve been reading the website over the close-season you probably don’t need me to tell you that there have been wholesale changes at the club over the summer, led by new (or should that be old?!) manager Martin Allen.
The Hive feels like an altogether happier place compared to the nadir of the 4-0 home defeat to Halifax last April. No point in dwelling in the past, but that was a disappointing effective end to the season, notwithstanding an excellent away win at Nuneaton by a young Barnet side the following weekend.
Reading Martin Allen’s entertaining and honest Q&A pages on the website, I feel that this is a much more tightly-knit group than the larger, but arguably less united, Barnet squad managed by Edgar Davids last season.
Sam Muggleton returning is good news, but the fact that he was our number 42 last season is perhaps indicative of the high turnover of players at the club in 2013/14. Having Nurse and Stack as coaches, who know the club and many of the players well, also provides some welcome continuity.
Whilst the quantity of players has undeniably reduced, the quality and togetherness has increased with some shrewd pre-season signings with significant league experience.
Now all that is needed is a good start to the season up at Chester followed by commanding home performances with a home support to match at The Hive.
If we all stick together, it could be a great season. Come on you Bees!