Martin Allen says that he is looking forward to tomorrow’s game at home to FC Halifax Town at The Hive, as the Bees look to stretch their lead at the top of the Vanarama Conference table against the team who ended their promotion dream last season.
Speaking ahead of the game, Martin reflected on the 4-0 defeat to the Shaymen exactly one year ago that ended Barnet’s play-off aspirations last season, and the chance that the team have this weekend to show how far they have come since that game:
“For all of our players and supporters – all of us – it is a game to really look forward to.
“Driving home from the Halifax game last year on the M25 I thought it was a defining moment really. They could have beaten us about 9-0.
“It was humiliating; I wouldn’t say embarrassing because it wasn’t really my group of players. That day I thought they were absolutely awesome and I have kept my eye on them since and been to watch them a few times.
“I knew from that day that I would need to do something different and we would have to change it, and God bless our Chairman he has backed me all the way. The Chairman deserves a lot of credit for actually getting the players here. I can recommend them but he has brought them in.
“I told him that night that this needs massive change rather than tweaking and that is what we have set out to do.”
With Barnet still one point clear at the top of the league excitement is high with just three games left to go, yet Martin is determined to keep the players’ feet on the ground as they look to finish the job:
“It is obviously exciting times for everybody. It is great to be involved and to be part of it and it is great to be working with these players. I am happy with the players that we have got, I am happy with the spirit that we have got and I am happy with the unity that we have got.
“It takes a lot of bravery when there is so much at stake to get it down and play, but we have got to try and do that more and move the ball around the pitch.
“It is important that I manage myself and look after the players well. For me it is my job and I have been there before for a Championship with Gillingham.
“It is important that we just do the right things in training and not talk about what-ifs. Just keep doing our jobs – do our job, do our job, do our job. It is my job to make sure that all the players just do their jobs and not let their minds start drifting off to other places.
“Everybody else around us can be excited but I have to keep focused and the players must keep focused. We need to be cool, calm and do things the right way and that is what we have been doing all the way through the season.”
Martin finished by speaking of his continued enjoyment at taking on a new type of challenge with the club as he looks to finish the season on a high with the supporters’ help:
“Normally at Barnet – as all the supporters know – when I have been here it has been for the great escape. When the team has been struggling and not winning that is when the Chairman normally rings me up and says ‘Can you come down and help us out?’
“We have had together some magical memories that will live with me forever – fighting relegation, surviving at Burton, the run, the phonecall from Grazioli after I had left and hearing all the players singing my name in the dressing room – that was one of the most magical days of my life.
“Can we now do it for the last three games? Well, we have all been there before. The supporters and me, all of us together – we have all been here before even though we are at the other end of the division fighting to get out rather than stay in.
“The atmosphere at Underhill used to be quite unbelievable and I expect it to probably be the same on Saturday.”