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Saturday, 29 November 2014

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Barrow AFC bid to end 40 years of hurt

THE first thing many Barrow AFC fans think about when they hear the name Hereford United is the dark day in 1972 when the Bluebirds dropped out of the Football League and were replaced by United. With the clubs set to face each other for the first time in 13 years, we look back at the events of June 1972. This is the report that appeared in the Mail on Saturday, June 3, of that fateful year

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INTO THE ABYSS: How the Evening Mail looked on Saturday, June 3, 1972, after Barrow AFC had been thrown out of the Football League

BARROW AFC, thrown out of the Football League yesterday, are to battle on – probably with an application to join the Northern Premier League.

And the club received a further blow today, when the manager, Mr Jack Crompton, former Manchester United first team trainer coach, announced his resignation.

As the club’s directors set about picking up the pieces, this was the message to the 1,500 fans who still care: There will be football at Holker Street next season.

A heartbroken but defiant Mr Dennis Rose, one of the three Barrow directors who attended yesterday’s fateful Football League annual meeting in London, said: “We have got to go out and fight. It is no use feeling sorry for ourselves. The damage has been done.

“We have got to find lots of glory in a lower grade of football. We have to rebuild until, in about two or three years, we are so outstanding that people will come and look at us and talk about us.

“We have gone out of the Football League fighting and not owing anything to anybody in the league, which must surely be in our favour.

“If in the future somebody else in the league is struggling as we were, and at that time we had the support, the results and the potential, then that is the time to give the league another go.

“So I would not like to think that the door back to the Football League is closed for ever.”

Mr Rose felt that the club should apply for a place in the Northern Premier League and appoint a young, strong, ambitious player-manager.

“If we get in the Northern Premier League we cannot afford to sit back. We have got to be the outstanding team, to be at the top regularly, to have long fights in the FA Cup, until we get talked about and noticed.”

But it will take Mr Rose and everyone connected with the club a long time to forget yesterday’s shattering experience when they were kicked out of the Fourth Division to be replaced by Hereford United.

Barrow’s exit followed a second ballot in the Cafe Royal after they and Hereford had tied for fourth place with 26 votes each, Northampton, Stockport and Crewe all being re-elected.

For secretary and administrative manager, Mr Wilf Livingstone, the tension was too much to bear and he left the meeting to be told outside the door that in the second ballot Hereford had polled 29 votes against Barrow’s 20.

And so ended a career in the Football League spanning 51 years.

“I shed tears over the thing”, said Mr Rose, who immediately after the result had been declared, left the meeting along with chairman Mr Sam Morgan and director Mr Bill Rogers.

Looking back at the events which led up to Barrow’s record 11th re-election application, Mr Rose said: “Most of us shoulder the blame, but in particular so must many of the players for a complete lack of dedication and loyalty to Barrow AFC in the last six weeks of the season.

“There has also been a lack of leadership of we on the board.

“There was complete apathy by local people. I know the football has not been good, but the town has drifted further away in the last three or four years until it reached rock bottom this season.

“All this has gone against us. And, of course, there has been a complete lack of hospitality to greet Division Four visitors to Holker Street. The word would obviously get around.

“Our fault since our re-election fate was known was, perhaps, that we were too complacent. Hereford have covered, I believe, 15,000 miles in the last four weeks canvassing First and Second Division clubs and it obviously paid off.

Club vice-chairman, Mr John Inman, echoed the determination to carry on expressed by Mr Rose.

“Where we go now I do not know – but we will carry on. I am confident of that,” he said. “We will have to meet to decide what our next step is to be, but I never thought this would have happened. I am astounded.

“I cannot see it being easy to get back into the league. At least we have not gone out through any default. So if we can put up good, consistent, impressive shows, just as Hereford have done, we might stand a chance.”

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