When Edgar Davids said a while back that every Barnet match is like a cup final, his analysis was spot on. Maybe not in the sense that Bradford City really are in a Cup Final, but in that every game and every point won can be so very crucial for the teams at the wrong end of the table.
How calm, relatively, it must have been when clubs were not automatically jettisoned out of The Football League, but rather ambitious clubs needed to muster enough votes from League clubs to oust one of the four teams that finished in the bottom four.
The teams that finished in 89th 90th, 91st, 92nd had to “apply for re-election” and it was unusual for clubs to vote out the more established outfit. The fact was that only one team faced the possibility of not being re-elected and it didn’t happen that often. It was an example of the “old-pals act” in action and it was mighty effective in keeping upstarts out of the League.
A club would stand a chance of being voted in if they had captured the country’s imagination with a cup-run or put together a smooth PR package. Although some clubs took a dim view when a club began dishing out branded pens come the day of the vote. On such marginal issues could your league status depend.
Barnet supporters with perhaps a grey hair or two will recall back in 1987 when Scarborough replaced on merit Lincoln City; the Imps were bottom of the League and Scarborough had topped the non-league pyramid. Automatic promotion, albeit of a “one-up – one-down” variety had arrived.
And why would Barnet fans remember this season? It was because the Bees finished second to Scarborough and so missed out on promotion!
Without doubt it makes for more suspense, with the threat of relegation out of the League possibly involving possibly half of the teams in the division and the prospect of promotion into the League being the target for some half of the teams in the Conference, now that two-up – two down is the norm.
What would it be like for one’s nerves should three-up – three-down become established?
The game at York City was vital in terms of adding points onto the board but also it showed the simple fact that Barnet have the ability to go and win an away match. After good, if not flawless, displays at Burton and Bristol Rovers, the Bees returned from these fixtures empty handed.
The thought must have been there, nagging away, that if we had played that well and got nothing, exactly how were we going to win? But of course there is more to a game that simply the result. Clearly it is the key fact and the focus is rightly on it, but because Barnet had played well in these two matches when it came to facing York confidence levels were still high.
Even though the home side took the lead York looked vulnerable and Barnet were strong enough, brave enough and good enough to capitalise.