Date:Monday February 25 2008
On Wednesday 25th February 1998, Barnsley took on the league champions in a fifth round replay at Oakwell. The reverse fixture had ended in a 1-1 draw, thanks to Peter Schmeichel gifting John Hendrie a goal at Old Trafford. For many, that game will always be remembered for referee Mike Riley denying the tykes a stone wall penalty, in which Andy Liddell was brought down in the box in the dying seconds of the game.
However, few would argue that beating United at Oakwell in a sensational game was far sweeter. A night which saw academy product Scott Jones bag a brace, leaving Fergie and his players (including a young David Beckham) absolutely stunned.
Yet I will remember not only how the game panned out, but how my family and I managed to get hold of tickets. As the away fans of a cup tie are entitled to a certain percentage of seats, Barnsley`s away end at the time didn`t match up to the F.A requirements, so half the west stand was given up for the United fans, which was fair enough. However, Barnsley F.C were not able to guarantee the season ticket holders of that section of the west stand a ticket for the match…splendid!
So what were we supposed to do? Simply sit at home and listen to it on the radio? No way, I was as determined to get into Oakwell as the boys in Stalag Luft iii were determined to get out!
During one of our trips to the ground to watch the players train, my dad called to the captain Neil Redfearn; "Tickets for the Man U game?" in which Redfearn replied; "you`ve as much chance of plaiting fog!"
It soon became public knowledge that there were a few tickets in the Ponty end which were to go on sale. The box office was to open at 9am, and when my Dad got home from work at 1am, we set out to Oakwell in search of the precious few remaining tickets.
Surprisingly enough, when we arrived outside the ground on that cold February morning, flask and bacon sandwiches in hand, there were already a couple of people outside the doors in their sleeping bags! So that made it okay for us, clarifying that we weren`t the only set of mad supporters knocking about in Barnsley.
Football makes you do strange things, and not many can say that they queued through the night, sleeping on the freezing cold concrete floor, in order to gain tickets for a footy match; but oh how it was worth it! No child had a smile as big as mine that morning, when the doors opened and allowed the red nosed and cold eared Barnsley faithful to claim their seats in their temple of Oakwell.
Two nil up at half time, thanks to a splendid finish from John Hendrie, and a brave effort from Scott Jones, Oakwell was really warmed up. Although Man U pulled a goal back through a deflected Teddy Sheringham strike, Scott Jones managed to bag his second with a thumping header into the roof of the net, right in front of the Ponty end.
With the score finishing at 3-2, the sound of the rippling net from Jones`s header still vivid in my ears, I had learned two things; that people will do almost anything to watch their beloved team play and that according to Barnsley legend Neil Redfearn, my Dad can plait fog!
Date:Monday February 25 2008
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