Runners up: 1986/87, 1987/88, 1989/90
Runners up: 1984, 1986
Division One South winners 1976/77
Runners up: 1986/87
DELVE INTO THE HISTORY OF BARNET FOOTBALL CLUB
Football in Barnet can be traced back to the formation of the original Barnet FC in 1888, with the club plying their trade in the London League until folding in 1902. Local rivals Avenue FC subsequently took over their name and their Queens Road ground before merging in 1912 with near-neighbours Barnet Alston, a works team playing in a distinctive black and amber kit. In September 1907, they established a ground at Underhill where the current club continued to play for more than a century.
Founder members of the Athenian League, Barnet & Alston reverted to the name Barnet FC after the First World War and enjoyed moderate success, finishing outside the top half just once in the 1920s and recording a Herts Senior Cup triumph over St Albans City during the same period.
The emergence of local boy Lester Finch at outside-left coincided with consecutive Athenian League championships in 1931 and 1932, the first of which saw Barnet win all but four of their 26 matches. Finch went on to become the greatest amateur player to feature for the Bees, with an England wartime international cap alongside the likes of Eddie Hapgood, Sam Bartram and Stan Cullis testament to his ability.
Although the Second World War curtailed competition to regional Cups, of which Barnet won more than their fair share, the resumption of the League in 1945-46 brought three major trophies to Underhill in consecutive years; two more League championships in 1947 and 1948 and a 3-2 win over amateur giants Bishop Auckland at Stamford Bridge in the 1946 FA Amateur Cup final. The Bees went on to lose to Leytonstone in the final of the same competition two years later. Barnet were also featured in the BBC’s first ever ‘live’ televised game in October 1946 against Wealdstone and became the first English club to play Hong Kong opposition, beating the League winners 5-3 the following year.
Success eluded the Bees throughout most of the following decade, although another Athenian League title in 1959 dulled the pain of Wembley defeat against Crook Town in the Amateur Cup final the same season. Two further consecutive League successes in 1964 and 1965, plus a narrow FA Cup third round defeat to Preston North End, were the catalyst for the Bees to turn professional, which they did when joining the Southern League Division One in time for the 1965-66 season. A 10-1 rout of Hinckley Athletic at Underhill in Barnet’s first game whetted the appetite for a third successive league title, and elevation to the Southern League Premier Division at the first attempt.
Another Wembley final in 1972, a 3-0 defeat to Stafford Rangers in the newly-created FA Trophy, and an epic FA Cup battle with Queen’s Park Rangers the following season proved to be the highlight of a quiet decade that saw the likes of Bob McNab, Terry Mancini and the mercurial Jimmy Greaves appear for the Bees. Barnet became founder members of the Alliance Premier League (later re-named the Conference) in 1979-80 but, despite new manager Barry Fry’s attempts to rebuild the team, the Bees flirted with relegation almost constantly during the early part of the 1980s.
Saved from receivership, the club persuaded Fry to return to the Bees from rivals Maidstone for what proved to be a tumultuous 10 years at Underhill. After finishing runners-up three out of the previous four seasons, Fry finally led Barnet to the Football League after a dramatic 4-2 win at Fisher Athletic in their final game of the season. The Bees’ maiden Football League season began with an extraordinary 7-4 home defeat to Crewe Alexandra and ended in play-off heartache, losing to Blackpool over two games that Barnet dominated. Promotion to the third tier was achieved the following season but, following off-field turmoil in which the club escaped expulsion and lost virtually the whole playing staff, new manager Gary Phillips was unable to prevent the inevitable relegation back to the lower level.
Under Ray Clemence and John Still, the Bees quietly established themselves in the fourth tier, twice making the play-offs, before being relegated to the Conference in May 2001 following a dramatic 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Torquay, who saved themselves in the process. It took Barnet four years to reclaim their Football League place as, following play-off misery at Shrewsbury in 2004, they secured the title at a canter in Paul Fairclough’s first full season as manager.
Firmly established back in League Two, and with two consecutive FA Cup fourth round appearances enhancing the Bees’ reputation, Fairclough’s continuing success at developing raw talent, often plucked from non-league, for the black-and-amber cause gave Barnet’s small but vociferous fan base optimism for future on-field success.
The 2008-09 season started poorly for the club and it wasn’t until late September that the team recorded its first victory in any competition. Manager Fairclough subsequently brought forward his announcement to step aside and become a club director with special responsibility for a training ground complex that would help develop young players. Ian Hendon subsequently took charge of the first team and successfully steered the club comfortably away from fears of relegation.
In 2009-10 Barnet at one stage deservedly topped the League Two table but, after a series of poor results, League status was only guaranteed on the last day of the season under reinstalled caretaker boss Fairclough. This season also saw the launch of The Hive, a state of the art training facility, which was opened by England manager Fabio Capello.
After a busy close season in which many new faces were brought to the club hopes were high under Stimson at the start of the 2010-11 campaign. However, serious long term-injuries to several key players thwarted Barnet’s ambitions and Stimson’s contract was terminated just into the new year, with Fairclough taking over once more, this time as temporary manager. With just eight games remaining Martin Allen was asked to return to the club as manager and he was able to inspire the Bees in his first game in charge to a creditable 2-2 draw after being two goals down against table-topping Chesterfield.
Allen stayed for just three matches before he moved in somewhat controversial circumstances to League One side Notts County, themselves also in relegation difficulties. Under Allen, Barnet secured seven out of nine points and a resurgence had begun. Giuliano Grazioli and ex-Fulham boss Lawrie Sanchez then steadied the ship and secured some vital victories in the remaining matches to secure League Two survival. Sanchez, the former Northern Ireland manager, was then appointed in the summer of 2011 with Grazioli named as his assistant.
However, Sanchez would not be at the helm come the end of the following season. In a disappointing campaign the Bees were always encamped at the lower end of the League Two table and, although there were a number of good displays in cup competitions, notably reaching the regional final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, consistency was hard to come by. Sanchez was relieved of his duties with three matches remaining, with Allen again being called up to mastermind a points gathering operation. Barnet needed a victory on the last day of the campaign and duly won at Burton Albion to escape the drop and Allen had again accumulated seven points out of a possible nine. He would move to Gillingham in the summer, leading them to the League Two title the following season.
In the close season of 2012 the entire backroom staff were released as the club entered a new era with the appointment of Fairclough as director of football and Mark Robson assuming the role of head coach, with the emphasis very much on youth. Many of the previous season’s players were also released; including skipper Mark Hughes who had scored the winning goal at Burton.
In mid-October, with the team yet to record a victory in any competition, the world-famous Dutch international Edgar Davids was named as joint head coach alongside Robson. This appointment stunned the football fraternity and attracted worldwide media coverage for the club.
Davids became a fixture in the team and soon took sole charge of team matters. Despite many impressive results, including an away win at eventual champions Gillingham, defeat to Northampton on the final day of the season sentenced the Bees to the Conference on goal difference; the poor start to the campaign proving an impossible handicap to overcome.
The club also said farewell to Underhill, their home for over a 100 years. In an emotional match – the last but one of the season – the club managed to record a 1-0 victory over Wycombe Wanderers and hopes were high that relegation could be again be avoided, yet it was not to be.
Despite the obvious disappointment of relegation, with the club moving to a new ground – The Hive – there remained a mood of optimism at the club, boosted by the fact that Davids would again be at the helm for the Bees for the 2013-14 season.
The club narrowly missed out on the Conference play-offs, and Davids was replaced in the latter stages of the season. Ulrich Landvreugd and Dick Schreuder temporarily steadied the ship, before Allen returned for his fourth spell as manager.
Allen led Barnet to the Football Conference title (the third in the club’s history) the following season, meaning that the Bees were back in the Football League for the 2015-16 campaign.
The Bees enjoyed a steady return to the Football League, finishing 15th and 28 points clear of the drop zone. The season was notable for Barnet having the fourth-best home record, picking up 42 points at The Hive.
In 2016-17, Barnet had a good start to the season before Martin Allen departed for National League side Eastleigh. Rossi Eames and Henry Newman were put in temporary joint charge and the good form continued as the club flirted with the play-off places over the new year. Kevin Nugent was named as head coach in February with Eames becoming his assistant. Nugent's stay at The Hive was brief and he departed after only one win in 11, with Eames once again placed in temporary charge. Barnet finished a respectable 15th place for the second season in a row and comfortably clear of the relegation zone.
The season was notable for John Akinde becoming Barnet's highest-ever Football League goalscorer, surpassing Sean Devine's record. Akinde also finished the 16-17 season as the joint top goalscorer in League Two with 26 goals.
In May 2017, it was announced that Eames would become our head coach permanently, making him the youngest full-time boss in the top four divisions of English football and completing a rise from the youth set-up all the way to the first team.
A bright start including a narrow defeat at Premier League Brighton in the Carabao Cup and a 4-1 win away to Swindon saw the Bees get off to a good start, but a poor run of form saw Mark McGhee replace Rossi in November.
McGhee was charged with appointing his successor and hired Graham Westley in January but with only 2 wins on the board in 11 games, Martin Allen was brought in for a fifth time. The Bees would win 5 of their last 7 matches but this wouldn’t be enough to keep them up, relegation to the National League was confirmed despite a comfortable final day victory over Chesterfield.
John Still returned to the club in May 2018, before retiring in January 2019, as Darren Currie took up the position as the Bees head coach. Since then Currie has become a favourite with the Bee Army and will look to guide the Club back to the EFL in the 2019/20 season.
The 2019/20 season was a strange one for the whole of society and the Club, with the devastating COVID-19 pandemic grinding the nation and the football season to a halt. Before the league was curtailed, the Bees had gone on a run which saw them lose just once in 13 league games. The league was decided on a Points Per Game (PPG) system and as a result we finished 7th, meaning a place was deservedly secured in the play-offs.
The Bees advanced past the play-off eliminator with a dramatic 2-0 win against Yeovil Town, with Mauro Vilhete sealing the victory in the last minute as he celebrated the end of his 10th season with the Club. It wasn’t to be for Darren Currie’s side as they fell to defeat to a very strong Notts County side in the semi-final, however in the most unprecedented of campaigns, the Club could look back with immense pride with what had been achieved.