Vital Barnsley Editor Interview
Q: What made you become a Barnsley supporter?
My Dad used to go to the games in the early 80's. He watched players like Mick McCarthy, Ronnie Glavin, Trevor Aylott and Ian Banks and just began taking me to games when I was old enough.
Q: Do you remember your first Barnsley game?
I don't remember a thing about it because I wasn't even four years old, but I know my Dad took me to the Blackburn Rovers game at home in 1989. We lost 1-0. My first memory of a game is the Norwich City game at home in 1996/97. We won 3-1 and Adie Moses scored a brilliant volley. I remember knowing all the Norwich players from my Premier League sticker book as they had recently been relegated from the top flight.
Q: Who is your favourite Barnsley player from your lifetime?
I've had a few favourites over the years but one player stands out above the rest for talent. Craig Hignett could literally turn a game on it's head. I can think of no better example than the home game against Walsall in the 1999/2000 season. We were 2-0 down and he scored a hat-trick, bagging the winner in injury time with an outstanding volley from outside the box to take all three points.
Q: And your favourite current Barnsley player?
That would have to be Bobby Hassell. He's been an excellent servant to the club, playing under four different managers but fighting his way into their plans every time, sometimes playing in unfamiliar positions. He's a hard worker and a model professional - something I admire very much in the game.
Q: What do you love about Barnsley?
I love the fact that we are underdogs most of the time. We won promotion to the Premier League as favourites for relegation. We've knocked Man Utd, Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool out of the cup. We were even underdogs at Cardiff in 2006 when we beat Swansea to win promotion back to the Championship. It's that feeling of not expecting to win so it doesn't quite hurt as much if you don't but if you do it's the best thing in the world. I wouldn't swap it for a Man Utd or a Real Madrid. They can only satisfy or disappoint in my view because everyone expects them to win all the time.
Q: What would you change about Barnsley?
I'd change the home supporters. It sounds harsh but the die hard supporters will agree with me. At home there is no atmosphere at all. There hasn't been for a long time. At away matches it's us making all the noise but we get outsung at Oakwell by crowds of 150 sometimes. I don't like people leaving before full time either. That winds me up. We played Scunthorpe United a couple of seasons ago at Glanford Park and we were 2-1 down. People started leaving at 85 minutes and we got a penalty in injury time. They all started turning round and trying to get in but the stewards wouldn't let them and shut the doors on them! So, they missed Brian Howard's equaliser. Brilliant way to teach them a lesson.
Q: Are you happy with last season's performance?
I can't complain really because we're almost always favourites to go down so to avoid relegation before the last day made a refreshing change. There was a tinge of disappointment at falling away from the Play-Off race after climbing to 9th but overall I have to be content with surviving fairly comfortably.
Q: Pick out the best and worst moment of last season?
The best moment of last season was probably the Carl Dickinson free kick in the last minute that won us the game at home to Cardiff City. The worst is a toss up between the 6-1 drubbing at Newcastle and the two idiots invading the pitch at Oakwell against Man Utd in the league cup on Sky TV. Both events were equally embarrassing.
Q: What are your expectations for next season?
Judging by Robins' effect on the team last season and the fact that he has a full pre-season to build his own squad, I'd expect us to finish in the top half next season. Anything less than 12th would be a disappointment.
Q: Who will stand out for Barnsley next season?
Goran Lovre looks like a real talent so I'm hoping he will get the chance to shine, perhaps playing behind the front two like Hignett used to to. The last time we had an ex-Man Utd striker as a manager we won promotion playing attractive attacking football which I think will suit him down to the ground.
Q: If you could bring any player into the Barnsley squad, money and reputation aside, who would it be?
I'd like to see a world class hardworking attacking midfielder. Staying in England I think James Milner is a fantastic talent. He had a great season for Villa last season and should definitely play a big part in our World Cup campaign.