An unexpurgated version of the interview that appeared in When Saturday Comes in January 1999...

WHEN SATURDAY CAME
for GIVE 'EM BEANS!

  • Best and worst moments as a Barrow fan.
    For a club so historically inured by defeat and failure, a Wembley appearance was an almost impossible dream, so achieving that and winning the FA Trophy in 1990 was a moment to savour. As for the worst, we're old enough to remember Barrow's failure to be re-elected to the League in 1972. But as we write (November 1998), the club is next to bottom of the Conference and faces either an early return to the UniBond or Conference Division Two, if that is approved for next season. Getting out of that may prove very difficult, especially in the early years, and if our chairman doesn't relish that particular challenge and pulls out his money, then the worst may still be around the corner.

  • Greatest individual associated with the club in your time as a supporter.
    Ray Wilkie (manager 1986-91) put together the side that won the FA Trophy, having taken us out of the Northern Premier to a creditable position in the Conference, and all with no money. Jack Charlton famously (in Barrow at least) once referred to him as the best manager in the country. Ray was taken ill early in the 1991-92 season and died about a year later at the tragically early age of 53. A new stand bears his name and a road outside the ground was renamed after him.

  • What is Barrow's realistically achievable level (League or non-League)?
    Judging by the Macclesfields and Wycombes of this world, there's no reason why Barrow shouldn't be able to hold their own in Division Three, or even Two, if we ever were to win the Conference. But regaining League status has been the club's ambition ever since that expulsion in 1972, and so far we haven't even come close. And as Barrow's three spells in the Alliance/Conference since its inception in 1979 have been of two, two, and three seasons, perhaps we should first look at producing a side that can hold its own at the top level of non-League before we get too carried away.

  • Celebrity Barrow fans?
    Barrow-born Emlyn Hughes professes to be a long standing fan, but no-one has ever seen him at Holker St. And despite the desperate attempts of successive editors to propel themselves to superstardom, fame still eludes them. Still we could care less; we reckon that the qualities of resilience and fortitude required to support Barrow on a long term basis are enough to confer a form of celebrity on anyone with the stamina to do so.

  • What is Barrow fans' most common complaint about the club?
    Our favourite grouse of terrible administration must be one. Meeting deadlines seems to be a particular problem for the club. For example, this year their failure to register a goalkeeper in time for an FA Cup Qualifying tie almost certainly cost Barrow a place in the next round. Two years ago while chasing promotion from the UniBond, the club didn't meet the Conference deadline for getting the accounts in. As it happened, Barrow finished fifth, but you see what we have to put up with.

  • Barrow fans least favourite other club. Has this changed over the years?
    How long have you got? We could refer you to a feature called 'Who Do You Loathe?' in issue 023, but here's a digest. Altrincham and Enfield were prime contenders based on the humiliations they inflicted upon the club in the early non-League days, coupled with the arrogance that went with them, but Hereford, by merit of having taken our League position, and local rivals Morecambe, are perpetual boo boys. Manchester United are despised by many of course, but we have particular cause, as in his four months as manager here in the mid-80s, Brian Kidd turned a respectable upper mid-table Conference side into one that would be almost relegated at the end of the season.

  • What is the biggest problem you have in putting it together?
    Lack of contributions, a sense of humour and thinking of a good idea for the cover.

  • What was your most successful issue?
    The promotion special we put out at the end of the 1997-98 season for a cut price 50p.

  • What do the club think about the fanzine?
    Although they kindly allow us to sell it inside the ground on match days, I don't think anyone in authority ever reads it or we would have been banned by now. They just ignore our requests for interviews which sums up their attitude towards us.
An unedited version of the piece that appeared in When Saturday Comes (no.143 - January 1999)
and also in G'EB! issue 038 - January 1999

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