I started following 'The Reds' from an early age, during the Jim Iley era. I can't be exact on the details, but I think my first game might have been against Newport County, in the 'old' fourth division. Barnsley ran out victors 3-1 in that encounter. Don't ask me why I remember it. I honestly don't know. Maybe I still have a copy of the 'Oakwell Review' somewhere to prove it.
In terms of any actual memories of this time, they're all 'sketchy'. Quite a few of the lads were sporting some great moustaches, so were the faithful supporters and Peter Springett was unashamedly a bit thin on top - but seemingly very wide in the goal. My early memories were mostly of the atmosphere, the floodlights at many games I attended with my Dad, Grandad (and even Great-Grandad) in the West Stand. The pipe and cigar smoke in the stands, constantly berating everyone and perching on the wall to get close to the action were all acceptable behaviour within the confines of Oakwell at the time.
Ed: The kids mostly sat on the wall. The adults mostly smoked and berated folk. Some did both.
Recently, It's had me wondering. In our moments as Barnsley fans, we have definitely enjoyed some great times. There can't be many clubs who have experienced anything close to the extreme highs and depressive lows that we have. As a community we've been pressured beyond belief outside of football, but have remained steadfast within it. Perhaps starting my journey as a fan in Division Four was a blessing. Everything we have achieved since has always seemed miraculous to this particular supporter.
Who made the difference though?
We've got a proud history. Pre-World War England felt the might of 'The Tykes', and a force that lead us to two FA Cup Finals, one glorious victory and plenty of clogging in the second tier for the rest of the time - upsetting the bigger boys. The desolate years, that began in the sixties and ended in the eighties, still had their characters and heroes. The climb into the Premiership was sublime, but would later wreak havoc on our stability as a club. The play off final of 2006. Our famous FA Cup run of 2008. The double at Wembley in 2016. No doubt you will have your own favourites.
We asked a hundred people (well ninety nine to be exact). And if the Twitter generation had their say, the outcome would positively point in only one direction:
Aside from Hecky, who has historically had the most influence as manager? #BarnsleyFC— WILKY (@OnThePontyEnd) February 15, 2017
But also, our Facebook followers would share a different perspective.
Allan Clarke was our Shankly - he kick started our golden years and Hunter took us on. I was lucky that it was my first season - since then we've been to Wembley four times, Millenium Stadium, three trophies, five promotions, one of which to the Premiership. ~ Craig Moffatt
Clarky started to bring good times back. When he came we were in real trouble and he gave club the kick start to where we are now. Hunter and others followed on ... thankfully. ~ Roy Wilkinson
Allan Clarke changed the culture of the club when he came in 78. Made the players more professional in themselves and kick started our rise from division 4. ~ Andrew Wilson
For me, let's start with Arthur Fairclough. Another 'One of our own'. Our FA Cup winning manager and three-times chief of The Reds. The only shame to his claim is that he was the founding manager of Leeds United too. But at least we can always stake this first, whatever 'success' that colourless lot have ever experienced, it was engineered and tested at Oakwell first!
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