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  • Ahead of the big kick-off 'Live on Sky', we've got the perfect recipe for worldwide TV and merchandising success for the Reds - and boy do we need a plateful of it soon ...
  • As Danny Wilson's Reds look to fight their way back to the Championship; we ask - can we make it by any means, with a pocket full of dreams? Hear it from New York right here ...
  • Is there more to being promotion certainties than just having a superior financial klout and fanatical following? We asked a group of Wolverhampton Wanderers fans for their views ...
  • What are the challenges facing any side relegated from the Championship and just how tough will life in League One be? We get the perspective of one Bristol City fan ...
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Saturday, 11 October 2014
Messi, the DOG and an overseas bonanza

Messi, the DOG and an overseas bonanza

Crazy days! Who could deny that it was Danny Wilson's greatest moment ever at Oakwell? We were all living the impossible dream. That day was 26 April 1997 and Bradford City AFC were our opponents. The dimunative Clint Marcelle twisted his way past the Bantams defence to fire home the winner and secure promotion for the Reds to the Premier League for the first and only time in our history. A brand new era of local football folklore was born.

Sadly, the reality is that football fortunes have changed tremendously. A roller coaster of relegations, promotions, administration, cup adventures, TV finance and overhaul is not the exclusive collective experience of Barnsley FC supporters. Tomorrow's guests, trekking over from Valley Parade for the 'Live on Sky' fixture, will no doubt testify to that too.

Perhaps then, we're all looking for a fortunate stroke of serendipity to happen. A future where our substance and notoriety is assured. A different plan.

Then let me share my little secret with you.

I think I've spotted the opportunity.

It's been right in front of our eyes all along.

It's really simple.

It's all about the DOG!

You've seen the DOG. Countless others have too. Otherwise known as the 'score bug'. It's that 'digital on-screen graphic' you immediately reference whenever you see a live game being televised. It's your faithful friend arriving to the rescue, the reference point you immediately check in a bar on holiday / on a night out / while shopping, when your partner complains - "I thought we were getting away from the bloody telly!"

Okay, it may be true that you didn't know the game was on. Now, with your initial curiosity satisfield and rubber stamped by the DOG, you're fully aware that this fixture has gravitas. It's now time to embellish a backstory and come up with a reason why you simply can't miss the action. Do your job well enough and your other half might just relent and let you savour the whole thing!

We Are BAR

BAR is the key to attracting transient viewers and overseas Sky Sports onlookers. We may not be FC Barcelona, but why let that small detail get in the way of this football fantasist's blog post.

We witnessed the attempt in the spring by the Oakwell heirarchy to try and usher in a brand new mage for Barnsley FC. Perhaps they had the wrong strategy? Why reinvent the wheel when recognising the DOG brings guaranteed fame and fortune around the world? With a little dash smoke and mirrors, we would be a TV hit.

You only have to see that the art of the movie 'remix' works very well at the box office. Taking an established success story and remaking it for a new audience.

Incidentally, have you heard the rumour that our beloved 'Kes' is due a remake? With Daniel Craig in line to play 'the fair-haired, slightly balding Bobby Charlton' aka the overbearing sports teacher Mr. Sugden.

Anyway, back to the main fabrication ...

To succeed and convince the world our TV fayre is essential viewing, we've got to look the part. The first change has to be with next year's away strip. Get rid of the rainbow full of colours we've seen over the last twenty years, in with a close imitation of every future FC Barcelona strip and with it a new club crest to deceive even the most discerning worldwide soccer observer.

Voila, I submit my effort.

Then for your eagle-eyed aficionados you're going to need that star name in your squad too. But don't worry, I've sorted that out too. I strongly recommend that you check out the very latest edition of 'The Phone Book' that began landing through our letter boxes recently. There you will find exactly what you desire.

A box office name to send shirt sales in to the stratosphere (through a future 'club-owned' merchandising operation), a certain Lionel Messi, based on George Street in Cudworth could be just what we need. Despite an impressive goal ratio in his youth, Leo (67) suffers from frequent and delibitating episodes of gout, meaning he will rarely turn out for the Reds. But when has common sense stopped us in the past? Let's reach for the stars!

It's the perfect recipe for success and boy do we need a plateful of it soon.

Will the world be watching tomorrow? I seriously doubt it. Fantasies aside though, whilst a victory tomorrow will not herald a new era in our club's history, it could help us turn a corner in our fortunes at home this season. No tall tale or fantasy can equal real success. Let us know your score predictions or your views on the seaon so far. Get in touch with us on Twitter or Facebook, or leave your comments below. Thanks for reading!

Monday, 29 September 2014
Worrying times at the "Tubbytronic Superdome"

Worrying times at the "Tubbytronic Superdome"

It's simply depressing. The dark clouds are gathering around Oakwell once more. Barnsley FC Supporters have had to stomach defeat yet again in the league at home. Making it a dismal four occasions already this season, having played just five League One fixtures there.

Lacking any league victory since 23 August, Oakwell attendances are dwindling,  recording our lowest gate since November 2012 versus Swindon Town in our most recent encounter.

Being competitive in League One and having a "strong squad to give the supporters a winning feeling" is one superlative statement given by Ben Mansford. Should we therefore assume that we have the right resources at our disposal, but lack the kind of leadership needed to galvanise this group in to a competitive outfit?

Followers of the Reds in the 'Twittersphere' are certainly nervous.

Anyone who witnessed our latest capitulation would be equally alarmed. The starting eleven and formation chosen by DW failed to excite the home fans. Should you have been expecting the seemingly mythical pace and power possessed by this lot, it was glaringly absent on this occasion to the extreme.

In a move to placate the latest potential commercial sponsors, with rumours circulating that Oakwell is set to be renamed the "Tubbytronic Superdome", even the late cameos made by Tinky Winky and Dispy failed to ignite any kind of fight back. Say "Eh Oh!" to Saturday afternoon misery once again!

Thanks for reading this latest rambling. Is it far too early to even consider radical changes at the helm of our beloved Barnsley FC? Should supporters consider that this season is simply about rebuilding and achieving a modest position come May 2015? We would love to hear your views. Get in touch with us on Twitter or Facebook, or leave your comments on this post.
Friday, 4 July 2014
Escape From League One: PT3

Escape From League One: PT3

Regular visitors who have followed our recent blog series will have discovered an insight to life in League One, from the success stories we have gleaned from a Wolverhampton Wanderers and Rotherham United perspective.

But what are the real pitfalls awaiting Barnsley FC in the third tier?

To discover more, we spoke to Paul Binning from the excellent Bristol City blog, The Exiled Robin to learn about their experience, having dropped from the Championship in 2012/13 and failing to bounce back. Are there any lessons to be learned and how might things shape up this season?

Prior to the start of the 2013/14 season, how was the playing squad enhanced to cope with football in League One?

Enhanced wasn’t really the word, rebuilt is much more appropriate. We lost a dozen players from our first team squad, many of whom stayed in the Championship and proved themselves, which says a lot about our previous season, so it was a case of many new faces on day one. We were promised a fresh approach after five years of losses totalling around £50m; young, hungry players desperate to prove themselves and bond as group was the order of the day and that’s generally what we got, with one or two ‘big’ names like Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (himself only 23) and Aden Flint, signed for £300,000 from local rivals Swindon, peppered amongst the free transfers and small fee transfers.

What was the general mood and expectation amongst Bristol City supporters at the beginning of the 2013/14 season?

It was very much a feeling of resetting the bar, a grudging acceptance that to move forward and build more sustainably we had to go down this different route and results might not be immediately forthcoming. Having said that, if I had to try and average out many expectations it would’ve been to be around mid-table most of the season, with a potential late push for the play-offs/top eight once the side settled in and got some experience under their belt, so hardly too forgiving

In your opinion, are there any dramatic differences amongst the mix of opposition that Barnsley FC are likely to face next season. If so, what assumptions can we make?

I think in Wolves and Brentford you had two of the ‘obvious’ outstanding teams getting promoted, so unless yourselves, Yeovil or Doncaster turn yourselves around quickly, the suspicion this year is that it’s a slightly more forgiving division. Having said that, Sheffield United had a terrific run and will be formidable if they can maintain that momentum, whilst Simon Grayson at Preston has had a look around the outside and has a track record in getting teams up.

From an outsiders perspective, it appeared that Bristol City took two or three months to acclimatise to life in League One. What could the club have done differently to ensure that faster progress was made?

This answer could take all night!! In a nutshell the afore-mentioned policy – widely supported in August – split fans down the middle come October, when we were bottom of the league. We  couldn’t keep a clean sheet, couldn’t win a game and were facing the dreadful prospect of a second successive relegation. Half the fans wanted Sean O’Driscoll sacked, half thought that a ridiculous notion as we’d been told it would take a while for this young team to gel and they’d only had a dozen weeks together.

What could have been done differently? A higher-quality centre-half than Aden Flint could have undoubtedly been bought for £300k – he looked nervous from the off which hardly helped the younger partners alongside him, whilst in midfield for all the promise and running of our keen youngsters, we missed the know how and experience an older head brings, someone to sit and dictate the pace of the game. Wade Elliott came in on loan in January and instantly showed what we’d been missing, whilst the loan signings of Karleigh Osbourne and in particular Nyron Nosworthy shored up the back line for the first time in over two years.

We also had a bit of a nightmare in goal, with Frankie Fielding at fault for a couple of goals in his first match – a home game on the opening day – and his confidence never seemingly recovered. We were forced to play another youngster in Elliott Parish when we could have done with a 30-something to calm everyone down, organise and give confidence to those in front of him.

With the exception of those sides who were promoted, who were the outstanding teams Bristol City played in League One last season?

Sheffield United stake the obvious claim if you only take the season from February onwards, or more pertinently once Nigel Clough had a chance to get the team playing how he wanted.

Which teams do you predict will be promoted this time out and who are the outstanding candidates to make the play-off mix?

Can’t see past Sheffield United and Preston North End personally. I suspect we might be in the mix for a play-off spot alongside maybe Doncaster. Leyton Orient may struggle to get over their near-miss last time out although Brentford coped well last year, whilst Peterborough United and Coventry City both have obvious potential - if they can strengthen their squads.

MK Dons are always in the mix, whilst there are often a couple of the promoted teams who do well - so I’ll plump for Fleetwood and Chesterfield.

Thanks for reading our latest update. Catch up with Part One and Part Two in the series and give us your feedback on how you feel things are shaping up for the new season and add your comments below this post. Does the lack of recent transfer activity alarm you? Can the Reds' youngster make the step up and give us a realistic tilt at the play-offs or promotion?
Sunday, 29 June 2014
Escape From League One: PT2

Escape From League One: PT2

Last week we published Part One in this new series, gaining a fantastic insight in to life in League One from the perspective of a Rotherham United follower on their journey as new arrivals in the division to their eventual promotion through the play-offs last season.

In an attempt to spread our bets on the eventual shape of League One this season, we continue our blog series by trying to understand what ingedients made the "secret sauce" of success for last season's champions Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Was there really more to the story than just their superior financial klout and fanatical following?

We asked members of the popular forum WolvesBlog, who were kind enough to answer just some of these questions. Here's a selection of answers they provided to OnThePontyEnd.

Prior to the start of the 2013/14 season, how was the playing squad enhanced to mount a serious challenge in League One following relegation from the Championship?

Before the start of the season the squad was a hotchpotch of (mostly poor) players brought into the club under the previous failed regimes. Kenny Jackett's first act as Wolves manager was to transfer list the overpaid wasters and 'big time Charlies'.

What was the general mood and expectation of the Wolves supporters at the beginning of the 2013/14 season?

All things considered the general mood of the fans was one of excitement. Some disillusioned souls drifted away and to be honest I can't blame them after the previous 3 or 4 seasons.

In your opinion, are there any dramatic differences amongst the mix of opposition that Barnsley FC are likely to face next season. If so, what assumptions can we make?

The teams in League One are often better than the standard in the Championship, but the biggest difference is that most lack the kind of strikers that can punish you.

Wolverhapton Wanders were a unique commodity in League One last season; easily able to boast of the largest following home and away by a country mile, with finances equally bolstered by Premier League parachute payments. Despite this giant status, how did Kenny Jacket galvanise success at Molineux where others had failed?

Kenny Jackett made sure that the players bought into the future and history of the club and that the fans and players were "on the same page" so to speak. Previous regimes had destroyed this relationship. Fans felt completely alienated by some of the vastly overpaid players we had. Kenny has turned this situation around and brought in exciting young players to whom the fans can relate.

Apart from Brentford and Rotherham, did you ever feel that any other sides could have made the leap from League One last season, based on their performances versus Wolves?

After Leyton Orient's excellent season I think they deserved to be promoted. Unfortunately the winds of football didn't blow in their favour and the rest is history.

From your perspective, what were the key moments or events in your season which helped catapult your club forward to success?

There were five key points that turned the tide in our favour. The first was keeping Sako after all of the speculation in the transfer window. The arrivals of Kevin McDonald, James Henry, Michael Jacobs and Nouha Dicko were the other four. Not only did Dicko's goals push us over the line, but he reinvigorated a flagging Sako by giving him a best friend within the camp.

If you could describe the Wolves style of play in League One in just one sentence. What would it be?

Fluid, entertaining football with plenty of flair added to the mixture.

What was your most successful formation?

We had the most success with the 4-2-3-1 formation. McDonald and Price formed a fantastic partnership in front of the back four, keeping possession effectively for us. The attacking midfield three were very fluid and often interchanged. The lone striker (usually Dicko) offered goals plus searing pace on the break.

We wish you the very best of luck in the Championship for next season, but with one look over your shoulder at the teams now left in the tier below, who do you think will be in the top six of the bunch?

For me the top six in League One will consist of Sheffield United, Preston North End, Barnsley, Yeovil Town and Leyton Orient, with Walsall just making it in having massively overachieved.

Do you have any other comments for our readers?

League One is a more entertaining league than I had ever imagined. Approach it with the respect it deserves and not with arrogance. When we were relegated to the Championship many fans assumed that we only had to turn up to games to win them - how wrong were we? All that's left to say is good luck.

Thanks for reading our latest post. You can catch up on Part One of the series
here. Don't forget that you can join the Super Reds debate right here on the blog and provide your comments below this post. Alternatively, strike up a conversation with us today on Twitter or Facebook.

Friday, 27 June 2014
Tykes at the World Cup

Tykes at the World Cup

Last season was one to forget for the Tykes. However, we can all take a breather because the 2014 World Cup games are well and truly underway and plenty of Reds fans are enjoying the festival of football before another domestic campaign starts.

So far Brazil 2014 has lived up to the hype. We’ve had spectacular goals from Tim Cahill and RVP, the customary England failure, and then of course controversy: stand Up Luis Suarez.

Whilst the bright lights of Rio may seem a long way away from Yorkshire, over the years Barnsley have had their fair share of stars that have graced the big stage.

Danny Blanchflower

A Barnsley, Tottenham and Northern Ireland legend, the midfielder captained his country to the quarter-finals in 1958, their best ever run in the competition. It was at Oakwell however where Blanchflower made his name in British football; playing 68 times for Barnsley before moving on to Aston Villa and Spurs, where he became arguably their greatest player of all time.

Mick McCarthy
The Ipswich boss is never far from the spotlight nowadays and in 1990 he was part of the Ireland squad that stunned the world. They reached the quarter-final in their first ever appearance at the finals, but McCarthy didn’t stop there and took his nation to the tournament once again 12 years later as manager.

Jan Åge Fjørtoft
Barnsley was the Norwegian’s last stop in Britain during a career that also included stints at Lillestrom, Frankfurt and Middlesbrough. He joined the Tykes having already made 71 caps for his nation and was part of the 1994 squad that travelled to the US before being sent packing in the Group Stage.

Allan Clarke
Nicknamed Sniffer, the striker ended his career as player/manager at Oakwell before returning once again five years later to lead them into the fifth round of the FA Cup twice. His eye for goal saw him score 12 goals in his first season at the club and that was enough to secure him a place in the 1970 England squad alongside Geoff Hurst.

Norman Hunter
Norman ‘bite yer legs’ Hunter made 31 appearances for Barnsley between 1979-1982. Many will remember Hunter as part of Don Revie’s Leeds United side of the 1970’s but he was also a member of England’s World Cup winning squad of 1966 and he finally received a belated winners medal in 2007.
Wednesday, 25 June 2014
Escape From League One: PT1

Escape From League One: PT1

With the English national team eliminated from the FIFA World Cup, local eyes and attention have very quickly returned to activities closer to home. Danny Wilson has already succeeded in attracting a number of promising prospects to Oakwell and no doubt Barnsley FC fans are already debating on the Reds' ability to potentially make a swift return to the Sky Bet Championship.

Whilst we don't have the answer, we are very fortunate to have gained the insights volunteered from a number of football fanatics who might be in a better position to do so. Over the next week, we look forward to providing a series of posts on this theme and hope to provide our readers with a better flavour of the perils and pitfalls that lay ahead for the Super Reds.

First up, we're delighted to introduce Michael Whitehead, supporter of our local rivals and last season's League One Play Off Winners - Rotherham United. Michael is a regular contributor to the excellent Podcast and Website We Are Going Up on all matters relating to the Millers.

Follow Michael on Twitter.

Can we make it by any means, with a pocket full of dreams? Hear it from New York below.

Prior to the start of the 2013/14 season, how was the RUFC playing squad enhanced to cope with football in League One?

Our midfield was easily the strongest area but Evans chose to bolster it further, Michael Tidser and Robert Milsom both joining from north of the border and winger David Worrall from Bury. Goalkeeper Andy Warrington had been moved on so Adam Collin signed up to provide Scott Shearer with some competition.  Evans is never afraid to do things his way and so it showed when he sent our defender and captain Johnny Mullins packing, knowing that Kari Arnason, Craig Morgan and Claude Davis would be enough.  He was of course right!  The full back positions were strengthened with Richard Brindley and Joe Skarz both adding some pace from the flanks.

I remember that many Millers were looking at our forwards and wondering where the goals might come from.  Ex Reds Danny Nardiello and big Kayode Odejayi had been our summer signings twelve months earlier and both had contrasting fortunes in League Two.  Kayode was never going to be a goal machine but had largely played a supporting role to Alex Revell whilst Nardiello had finished our top scorer.  However to many he wasn't quite the answer and we knew Evans wasn't a big fan of his workrate.  Sure enough in came long-time target Matt Tubbs on loan from Bournemouth shortly before the season kicked off and Nardiello was farmed out to Bury on loan a few weeks later.  Danny Hylton had been signed from Aldershot Town but he was largely an unknown quantity.

Kieran Agard had a super end to the 2012/13 season and so there were reasons to believe we might do OK for striking options.  Plus this wasn't taking into account the threat we had from midfield positions via Ben Pringle and Lee Frecklington.

What was the general mood and expectation of RUFC fans at the beginning of the 2013/14 season?

I think, on the whole, there was a sense that we might be able to surprise a few people.  The manner of how we had gained promotion - 5 wins in 5 to grab 2nd place on the last day after thinking we had blown it - had made the majority of fans believe that the squad Steve was putting together was finally starting to click and show some promise.  Personally I thought we had far too much quality to be involved at the wrong end of the table, that we could reasonably gain a mid-table finish, and maybe with a bit of luck trouble the top ten.  I was mindful that some fans may unfairly expect us to challenge for promotion again being as we achieved it under Ronnie Moore with less resources but I admit I didn't think so myself, mainly because of the massive overhaul of playing staff and reliance on the loan market which I was worried may unsettle things too much.

In your opinion, are there any dramatic differences amongst the mix of opposition that Barnsley FC are likely to face next season. If so, what assumptions can we make?

I reckon, like most 'pundits' will probably say, that Sheffield United (do you lot call them Blunts in Barnsley too??) and Bristol City will take the form of the second half of last season into the next one and should be up there.  Wolves were streets ahead of any team in League One last year - even though we gave them a game on both occasions - but I can't see any topping 100 points this time around.  Coventry, Peterborough and Preston should be ones to watch as well.  Leyton Orient were very similar to us and if they keep their best players might be up there again but I think it could too much to ask.

Out of the three sides to come down I think Barnsley have the best manager - Danny Wilson, whilst he's never got a team up from this level he's got plenty of experience and should know what it takes.

From League Two, Scunthorpe always adapt well after getting promoted and as Barnsley fans will know Keith Hill did well in League One last time with Rochdale and I expect them to be in the mix for the top 10.

Overall, what do you feel are the essential qualities that any team needs in League One to compete in the top third of the table?

It may seem obvious, but if you look at last season's table then it is consistency.  Both Leyton Orient and Rotherham finished on 86 points - which would have beat Doncaster Rovers to the title the season before.

With the exception of Peterborough United who limped their way into 6th spot, the top five teams very rarely dropped points and always seemed to manage to string good runs together at crucial times. For example, the Millers had an amazing sixteen game unbeaten run from New Years Day until April, ending with defeat at Bramall Lane, but our reward was to climb a measly three places from sixth to third.

As with any promotion winning side, an unbreakable team spirit is handy too to battle from the 1st minute to the last.  I was amazed how many times (Wembley included) that I thought we looked dead and buried - only for us to score late goals.

With exception of Brentford and Wolves, which teams did RUFC fans feel would provide the biggest obstacle to securing a Play-Off position.

Being as most of us didn't think we would be competing at the top end until maybe the turn of the year, I will answer this from the perspective of that time period!  Leyton Orient had led the way early on and despite losing at New York had looked a very tidy team with a lot of strength in depth.  Orient were the standard to aim for then (at that time). But as it moved closer to 'squeaky bum time', I think we realised that if we finished above Peterborough and Swindon then we should secure a play-off place; and so it proved.

Given their Premier League parachute payments, did Wolverhampton Wanderers dominate the League in the way that the table suggested? Without them, will League One be a far more level playing field?

It's definitely a 'Yes' to both.  Wolves were frighteningly consistent and imperious at home for much of the season, probably September onwards.  And it wasn't just in terms of winning football matches.  We had Nouha Dicko on loan from Wigan over Christmas who looked to provide us with some much needed potency up front but he was eventually lured by a huge wage packet at Molineux.  I think we also had a good chance of getting Leon Clarke in January as well but Wolves again proved to be too strong a pull.  The Blunts were noticeably weaker from Wanderers snatching Kevin McDonald from them in August too.

Whilst many would look at the New York Stadium and the number of players Rotherham are signing and come to the conclusion that we have tons of money to spend - it's worth mentioning that only Lee Frecklington had cost a fee and so much of the side that won promotion last season was put together by free signings and loan players from Premiership and Championship clubs.  Brentford similarly didn't spend a lot and Leyton Orient scrimped and saved their way to their 3rd place.

In hindsight and despite your promotion (on penalties) in that memorable final at Wembley, what could RUFC done differently to have secured an automatic promotion spot?

It may seem silly when I have said that we signed a lot of players in the Summer - but I think the fact that we had a fairly small squad may have counted against us.  This was possibly done on purpose to create a tight knit group.  But in truth, Brentford - their 3-0 reverse at NYS aside - were just too good and our long unbeaten run in the second half of the season was never going to be sustained.  If we had managed to get Dicko in the January transfer window then things may have been different - particularly as the berth alongside Revell was never successfully filled all season by the various loan stand-ins.  But I wouldn't want to take anything away from Agard who had a terrific season scoring his 26 goals mainly from the right wing.

We wish you the very best of luck in the Championship for next season, but with one look over your shoulder at the teams in the tier below, who do you think will be the top six of the bunch?

Many thanks for the well wishes.  Hopefully Barnsley make it back and we get some more South Yorkshire derbies next year.  I'm not the best at making predictions, but I'll stick my neck out and go with this:

  • Peterborough
  • Bristol City
  • Sheffield United
  • Barnsley
  • Preston
  • Coventry

Who do you think will make the grade this season. Why not put your money where your mouth is and check out the latest odds on the likely candidates for promotiion and relegation in 2014/15 by visiting today!
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