Wet Tuesday nights in Barrow and discovering Walney Island!

by

‘They might be good at home but they don’t like it up em on on a wet Tuesday night way at (insert name of any lowly footballing outpost) do they?’

That is an old footballing cliche about sides that play champagne football at home but don’t feel as comfortable away from those familiar surroundings and are unable to show their true form there.

Well a wet Tuesday night in Barrow was clearly not to some of the Mansfield Town players’ liking on Tuesday against a physical home side and a hostile home support in very spartan surroundings (the gents was literally a concrete floor with a drain cover to try to aim through)!

But when the buds are back on the trees and the sun starting to warm up again in late April, it is points from those very nights at places like Barrow which will separate the wheat from the chaff, the winners from the also-rans.

Look at Oxford and Stevenage. Neither will have fancied coming to Field Mill this season against a side with a great home record. But both were able to show exactly what they are made of, Stevenage winning with a dash of help from the referee and Oxford pushing Stags all the way.

But at Barrow Stags failed to keep the ball and were torn to shreds by the mobility and inginuity of Justin Walker who scored twice and led them a merry dance.

Indeed, both centre halves Scott Garner and Luke Graham were lucky to only end the evening with yellow cards.

Yet contrast that display with the home clash against Barrow just six short weeks ago when Mansfield ran out comfortable 4-1 winners. And consider how energetic Stags were in putting an unbeaten Oxford firmly on the back foot just a week earlier.

It is true that five of the visiting side were not fully fit. But they should still have had enough to see off a Bluebirds side that lacks the quality David Holdsworth has in his squad.

It wasn’t the worst away display by any means. It is knowing what Mansfield are actually capable of that makes it hurt.

Had Stags not been stung by two superb finishes after levelling the game or had taken one of a handful of half chances later on, they might have at least brought a point home.

But Barrow, stinging from their manager’s criticisms over a 3-0 defeat at Salisbury, simply wanted it more on the night.

Mansfield’s away record has been poor for several seasons and, after winning two of the first three this season, is in danger of being their Achille’s heel again unless they do something about it quickly.

Holdsworth learned more about his players last night while I was given a suprise geography lesson!

Having booked a bed and breakfast blindly on the internet for after Tuesday’s game which was a mile and a half from the ground, I at least expected it to be on the English mainland!

Instead it was on the eighth largest marine island in the British Isles – the Isle of Walney.

This is a part of the country I am quite ignorant about and I was gobsmacked to find myself crossing a road bridge to an island you could only reach by ferry until the bridge was built in 1908.

The island overlooks the old Vickers shipyard which these days produces the submarines we keep our money-wasting Trident missiles on and, along with the paper mill and steelworks, is one of Barrow’s big three employers, albeit vastly reduced from its glory days.

I gleaned much of this knowledge from the only two blokes in the pub I finished up in to the north of the island.

Seeking a post-match pint of beer to help wipe away the misery of defeat I asked in the press box which pub I should go to locally for a decent pint. Amid some sharp intakes of breath I was advised to avoid the nearest pub to the BnB as there was a 50-50 chance of being beaten up and generally be careful!

I was advised to turn right on the island and drive into the darkness until I saw the light from the Crown.

Straight away the barmaid there recognised that I had never been in there before and told me so! But she and the two drinkers then were happy to chat about the history of the island and Barrow and it didn’t turn into a scene from the League of Gentlemen or An American Werewolf in London where strangers are unwelcome.

Those in the pub were all surprised to hear Barrow had won their second home match of the season against a Mansfield side they comfortably expecetd to take the points home.

No more surprised I woul suggest than David Holdsworth whose post-match anger and sore throat suggested we had missed the best of it in the dressing room some 30 minutes earlier.

Hopefully his words will work as this side is good enough to win at Barrow and go up this year in terms of talent, the belief and application away from home is the bit going wrong.

Forest Green shoudl be easily dispatched this Saturday. But Altrincham away the following week will be the big chance to start putting these away problems right.

PS – my apologies to Steve in South Africa who complained I had let my blogs regulaarity slip of late. Two weeks of jury service followed by playing catch-up in the office was the reason. Back on track now hopefully. Thank you for reading them!

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One Response to “Wet Tuesday nights in Barrow and discovering Walney Island!”

  1. craigpriest14 Says:

    Top Read mate!
    There was me thinking you was leaving it to the professionals 😉 haha no seriously enjoyed reading as ever.
    🙂
    Craig

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