Not many people know this, but Barrow AFC hold a surprising number of footballing records. The fastest goal ever scored, the first substitute to score a goal, the first substitute to save a penalty, the only referee to score a goal and the fastest ever transfer are just some of the club's achievements, as you will find out from...


Yes, there are some!

• The Fastest Ever Goal in a Football Match

At Kettering Town in 1979, Barrow not only whitewashed their opponents 4-0, but all four goals were scored by the same player, who was of course the great, never to be forgotten Colin Cowperthwaite, better known in these parts as 'God'. But his four goals on that day weren't his main claim to fame. After all, a number of Barrow players have bagged four in a match, including Neil Morton (at Boston in February 1997), Mark Dobie (against Chester-le-Street in September 1994) and Neil Doherty (against Harrogate Town in September 1993). No, the significant fact about Cowps' four at Kettering was that the first went in after only 3.58 seconds of play, making it the fastest goal ever scored in a football match anywhere in the world.

However, now that FIFA have changed the rules so it is possible to score a goal straight from the kick-off without having to pass the ball first, Cowps' record must be in jeopardy. There are already sporadic reports in the press about claims under three seconds, although these are usually from very minor soccer and have yet to be validated.

• The First Ever Argentinians in English Football

The 'Cassell Soccer Companion' by David Pickering (ISBN 0-304-34700-0) is the source for many of these records and it also mentions that Barrow anticipated the signing of players from Argentina that came to dominate the English transfer market in the late 1970s, as early as 1937, when the club bought Argentinian half back Augustus Corpa and inside left Casco Rinaldi. The two players were crew members on a ship that had just been built in the town for the Argentine navy, and was in the process of being fitted out before undergoing sea trials.

• The Quickest Ever Transfer

Barrow also hold the record for the fastest ever transfer when a player started a game playing for the club and at half-time was transferred to the opposition. This happened when Barrow were in the Lancashire Combination in 1920. The opponents were Nelson.

• The Super Substitute

Barrow, or more specifically Bob Knox, have more or less cornered the market in records held by substitutes. For although Bob can't claim to be the first ever substitute to be used in senior competition (this honour belongs to Alec Jeffries of Doncaster Rovers), he was pretty close, coming on in the opening fixture of the 1965-66 season against Wrexham. What is significant however, is that he did go on to score in that match, helping Barrow to their first victory over the Welshmen in eight years and becoming the first ever substitute to score a goal. Knox became something of a super sub for Barrow and later in the same season, in a home game against Doncaster Rovers, he became the first substitute to replace an injured goalkeeper (Lionel Duffin) and the first substitute to save a penalty. The Ed tells me that he can remember seeing both of these records being made. Strange. I thought he was old enough to remember the Argies and the Gillingham cup tie (see below).

• The Referee Who Scored a Goal

The Ed would also remember the referee who scored a goal for us, on 9 November 1968 against Plymouth Argyle in the old (real) Division Three. A detailed account of this appears elsewhere on this site, but suffice to say this is the only time a referee has ever scored a goal in the history of the Football League.

• Zigger Zagger

Every Barrow fan knows that Zigger Zagger started life at the Holker End in the 1966-67 season in the chant "Zigger, Zagger, Zigger, Zagger, Oi, Oi, Oi!" However, 'Zigger Zagger' is also the title of a 1967 play by Peter Terson, which, according to the 'Cassell Soccer Companion', is taken from the chant of Stoke City fans. It goes on to say 'The play is a view of life from the terraces and is a rare example of football being treated as a suitable subject for the stage. The action mixes football motifs with an examination of the bleak prospects facing a football obsessed teenager in a society which appears to have failed him.' So Stoke City fans could really relate to it then.

But that's rubbish. Barrow fans invented the chant. The Zigger was also the name of a short lived magazine brought out by Barrow AFC in September 1967. It only lasted two or three issues. But the chant was sung at almost every game Barrow played in Divisions Three and Four from 1966 until relegation back to the Fourth Division in 1970.

So what was a Zigger? It was a stuffed kitbag which was brought to Holker St each Saturday by a group of youngsters and paraded around the ground before the kick-off. The Zigger was immortalised on the cover of the September 1968 issue of the Football League Review. It proved to be a good luck charm as it presided over the most successful period in the club's history.

It was hoped that the Ziggers might catch on as the club's nickname but after a while it faded away, although the phrase is remembered today in the title of the National Supporters' Club newsletter, the National Zigger. Perhaps if we invoke the spirit of Zigger Zagger at Holker St, it will inspire a return to the glory days of thirty years ago. And give Barrow another record as the first club since the war to regain their Football League status, having lost it in the days before automatic promotion and relegation between the Football League and the Conference.

• First non-League Club with a Web Site

Never mind all your big Premier League websites, in 1994 (while the likes of us were still making excuses of how we didn't understand the Internet and couldn't afford to go on line) the Barrow AFC web pages pre-dated the great majority of these and was the first site dedicated to a non-League club on the WorldWide Web. Richard Postlethwaite started the site while still a student at Warwick University and carries it on to this day, it having gone from strength to strength. I can recall browsing at the Internet magazines in Smiths years ago and one of them mentioned that the only two non-League clubs to have websites were 'Barrow and Forest Green Rovers'. The site is currently at

• Tony Ford's League Appearance Record

On 9 January 1999, in their 3-1 victory over Brentford, Mansfield Town midfielder Tony Ford overtook former Southampton and Hereford winger Terry Paine's record of 824 outfield appearances in the Football League. What's this got to do with Barrow, you may ask? Well, Tony is a former Barrow player, Mike Walsh having brought him to the club in the summer of 1996 to bolster the midfield. Tony was already a veteran of over 600 Football League games, and it looked as if his spell at Holker St. would see him winding down and looking towards a future in coaching or management. Thus, it was something of a surprise when, shortly after Owen Brown's appointment in October 1996, and after fourteen appearances and two goals for Barrow, he moved on to Mansfield Town in Division Three. Here he took over as assistant manager and youth team manager, and was able to achieve his remarkable record. He later moved to Rochdale and his achievement was recognised with the award of an MBE in the 2000 New Year's Honours List. On 7 March 2000 Tony played his 1,000th match in top flight soccer in Rochdale's 1-0 Auto Windscreens Shield Northern Area semi-final victory over Carlisle United.

Tony also holds the distinction of being the first person to score with the new fluorescent yellow ball (the Mitre Ultimax Fluoroflare) introduced by the Nationwide League in 1998 for games played in the November to February period of the season.

• The Last Ever Football Match of the Second Millennium... NOT!

The UniBond League Premier Division encounter between Barrow and Winsford United which kicked off at 8.00pm at Holker St. on Thursday, 30 December 1999, received a fair amount of publicity as being the final professional or semi-professional football match to be played in the British Isles in the second millennium. Indeed, the players of both sides were even presented with medals acknowledging this. However, in researching these pages we had to throw out a number of dubious claims (the first ever substitute; a number of ex-players who went on to play for England who either never played for Barrow or never played for England at all), and this, I'm afraid, has to be another one. For, as I'm sure most of you are aware, the third millennium didn't actually start until 2001. Just because squintillions of people around the world celebrated the new millennium on the night of 31 December 1999 and the morning of 1 January 2000, doesn't actually make it so. So thousands of matches were still to be played in that particular millennium. The match wasn't even the last of 1999. Two others - Glentoran 1, Linfield 0 in the County Antrim Shield; and Rothes 0, Keith 1 in the Scottish Highland League, were played on New Year's Eve.

However, if you think we are being unreasonably curmudgeonly here, then there is ample proof on this site that this current millennium is ours.

• FA Cup Records and Barrow

According to Total Football magazine, Barrow's 12-0 thrashing of Cleator in the FA Cup First Qualifying Round in 1920 puts us in equal ninth place for the greatest margins of victory in the history of the FA Cup.

Also the third longest FA Cup tie on record was between Barrow and Gillingham in the 1924-25 season when a result was finally obtained after nine and a half hours of play, which according to my reckoning makes it the fourth replay.

• Joint Longest to Dispose of non-League Opposition in the FA Cup

When Barrow drew Alfreton Town in the first round of the 1969-70 FA Cup, Barrow were a Third Division club and Alfreton were in the Midland League. The first game was played at Alfreton on Saturday 15 November 1969, and was drawn 1-1. At Holker St two days later the replay finished 0-0, after extra time. The second replay was played at Chesterfield on 20 November, and finished 2-2, again after extra time. The third and final replay took place at Deepdale, Preston North End's ground, on 24 November and Barrow won 2-0 within the allotted ninety minutes. Therefore, it took Barrow seven hours to dispose of Alfreton, and this still stands as a joint record for the length of time a Football League club has taken to knock out a non-League club. As penalties are now required after a replay, this is another record that will never be broken.

For the record the details are:

15 Nov 69 • Alfreton Town 1 (Bate 79) Barrow 1 (Hartland 78); Att: 4,066.
17 Nov 69 • Barrow 0 Alfreton Town 0; Att: 4,211.
20 Nov 69 • Alfreton Town 2 (Ford 38, Woodward 107) Barrow 2 (Garbett 27, Knox 112); Att: 7,369
24 Nov 69 • Alfreton Town 0 Barrow 2 (Knox 71, Fletcher 84); Att: 4,684

• Getting on for the Most Number of Being on the Receiving End of Other Clubs' Record Victories

This may or may not be the most, but Barrow have certainly suffered an embarrasing number of record defeats at the hands of other clubs. The ones we know about are Hartlepool United's best ever win, 10-1, on 4 April 1959 in the old Division Four; Crystal Palace's biggest victory, a 9-0 drubbing, the following season in the same division (10 October 1959); and Workington's record 9-1 margin at Borough Park in the first round of the Football League Cup on 2 September 1964.

Another record involving Barrow, although this is another one we we're not that happy about, is being the club who ended another's record run of home defeats. Yes, in the Third Division (North) in 1931-32, Rochdale suffered fourteen consecutive home defeats, for after beating New Brighton 3-2 in November 1931, they did not get another point until they held Barrow to a goalless draw in their second home League game of the 1932-33 season, a Football League record that still stands.

• Most Financial Crises

This isn't totally flippant. Practically all my life of supporting Barrow AFC they have been in one financial crisis or another. John Woods recalls elsewhere on this site that when he first started attending as a small child in the late 1950s, there was a crisis. When this writer started going in the mid-1960s he remembers having to colour in posters at school for the 'SOS - Save Our Soccer' appeal. The club's demotion from the Football League prompted if not a crisis, then certainly a number of years of scrimping and saving. After the FA Trophy victory of 1990 finally brought some cash into the coffers, it looked as if Barrow may settle down to a period of some prosperity, but no, there was another crisis in 1993, which resulted in something of a boardroom battle between long time president Bill McCullough and then-chairman John Barker, and the departure of manager Richard Dinnis, who some thought was made the scapegoat for the affair. Most recently, there have been the CVA arrangement and the crises precipitated by the resignation of chairman and financial backer Steven Vaughan, first in 1997 and again in 1998. This last was the big one of course, and the club went into liquidation, in which state it continues to operate. It will do so until its debts have been sorted out, when hopefully a new company, Barrow AFC (1999) Ltd., will be allowed to take over the full administration of the club.

Updated from issue 033 - January 1998