After having dropped two points at headquarters against Hartlepool last Friday night in the final minutes, the Stags now travel north-west to one of this season’s surprise packets so far, namely Barrow.
Fact is that Barrow already have won seven out of their so far eleven League Two fixtures, a feat they did not even manage in 1966-67, their only EFL promotion campaign, and in 1968-69 when the first half of their then Third Division was close to promotion form. And their latest home fixture against Leyton Orient was watched by a very good gate as 4629 fans from both sides found their way to Holker Street. And against Bradford City, Barrow also had a 4000+ gate.
And this is easily Barrow’s best start of any EFL season over the years in which the previewer has followed League football. Credit to manager Pete Wild who in Barrow’s third season back in the EFL have transformed the Bluebirds from a side avoiding the trapdoor back into the National League to a side inside the playoff zone.
A side which on Saturday will face a stern test when the Stags arrive at Holker Street, a venue where the League Two champions of the last two seasons crashed heavily, Cheltenham to a 3-0 scoreline in 2020-21 and Forest Green been clipped to 4-0 at the very end of last season where Barrow at one stage late on were close to drop out of the EFL on the field.
Last season out, before the trip to Barrow, the Stags had their highly-anticipated away game at Forest Green abandoned after just a few minutes, which easily must be a record in the entire Stags League history, surpassing an away game at Walsall way back in 1937 at an much earlier date of a league, and the second abandonment at Forest Green in preview history
Before last season’s trip at Barrrow , the Stags had failed to take a single point off the Bluebirds as both 2020-21 season fixtures were lost and also the corresponding home fixture a year ago thanks to a debatable penalty.
Revenge was done early on this year to a 3-1 scoreline despite being one man down for the entire second half due to some very debatable officiating. The rating then said it all. And the win then equalled the Stags consecutive winning record of seven, a record which the following weekend went out of the record books.
By the time of Barrow’s visit to One Call, the Stags were well within their worst spell this term with twelve games without winning.
In between, just like the Stags, Barrow reached the FA Cup third round, and made Barnsley play extra time before the Tykes went through in a 5-4 thriller in which goals flew in left right and centre for both sides in the final minutes of normal time.
From the sight of the Stags’ faithful, the 2020-21 encounters belonged to those who were appalling to print the least. An inept display led to a 2-4 defeat on October 2027 which for the first was Barrow’s first victory within the EFL since April 22, 1972 (then 2-0 at home to Workington),for the second led to the departure of Graham Coughlan, dismissed hours after the final whistle at One Call. That game was also the first EFL encounter between the Stags and the Bluebirds for a little over than half a century, although the sides clashed since then during the dark days of the Stags.
Before the games in 2020-21, the Swinging Sixties were a few months short of the end, with just over three months left of that decade then. And before the trip to Barrow then, the Stags had played Bradford City in the fixture prior to a trip to Barrow. Then, we had beaten the Bantams at home to a 2-1 scoreline. And just one goal separated the Stags and the Bluebirds at Holker Street on September 13, 1969, and that goal was scored by one of the scorers during the FA Cup giant-killing of West Ham half a year earlier, namely Sharkey. Exactly three months later, the Stags faced Barrow at then Field Mill, and, true to style, there were loads of goals in that fixture which the Stags won to a 4-2 scoreline. Then, the Stags were upper mid-table, eventually finishing in sixth position after a strong finish, while Barrow already then were on the road to relegation as the above-mentioned fixture was to be the last of a Barrow winless run of 17 games, after a 3-1 home victory against Fulham of all sides on August 30, 1969. During the Bluebirds’ long winless run, they managed five draws, and their 2-4 defeat at Mansfield was followed by a 2-0 home victory over then high-flying Rochdale.
50 years was also the longest-ever sequence between EFL meetings between two sides in which the Stags had been involved, surpassing the one against Accrington (expunged game in 1961 to September 2006), a span of 45 years. And if previous games between the Stags and the Barrow Bluebirds are something to go by, there should be some goals as the sides have yet to play a goal-less draw in all competitions.
The 2020-21 season marked Barrow’s return to the Football League after an absence of 48 years, as they were voted out in favour of Hereford at the end of the 1971-72 season. And before last season was curtailed, Barrow were leading the Conference National with a few points after scoring left, right and centre in a couple of games, and they were definitely proof of that promotion and relegation issues are not solved after just a few games.
Not only the Stags changed managers since the meeting in October 2020 as Nigel Clough followed Coughlan in the Old Call Stadium hot seat. But Barrow changed managers twice that campaign. A poor run before the end of last year with five straight defeats saw the departure of David Dunn. He was replaced by Michael Jolley, but he lasted just two months despite starting with a 2-0 away victory against Port Vale. He left nearly a fortnight before last season’s fixture at Holker Street, and Rob Kelly finished last term caretaker boss of the Bluebirds, a term which finally saw Barrow staying up with a few points to spare, and the kick-start was in fact the Barrow 2-0 home victory against the Stags last March. That victory was followed up by three more consecutive ones, including a very good 2-0 victory at eventual Champions Cheltenham Town, a side the Stags beat at home to a 3-1 scoreline in a very good game just days after our defeat at Holker Street. Barrow boss last January was Mark Cooper, who steered Forest Green into the EFL five seasons ago via the playoffs. But he left before the end of last season.
In the 2019-20 season, Barrow showed relegation form early on by losing six out of their first nine games. From then on, the Bluebirds went on to win seven consecutive games. After a defeat at Torquay, Barrow went on to play fifteen games without defeat. That run included a 3-0 rout of Notts County and a 7-0 home mauling of Ebbsfleet, the side the Stags faced in their first game during their dark times. They also faced Barrow then.
And the final time the Stags travelled to Barrow in the Conf, they had their club record 12-match winning sequence broken under somewhat controversial circumstances at Wrexham. A few days later, they travelled further up northwest to a ground well-known during the Stags’ BSP days and previous FL days, Holker Street at Barrow.
Well there, the Stags won to a 4-0 scoreline on April 6, 2013. But the scoreline does not tell the full story as Alan Marriott saved a penalty when the game still was goal-less. Two minutes later, Matt Green hit the opener and just before half-time, he converted a soft penalty to a 2-0 scoreline. Then, Barrow had needed someone like Andy Cook, as Barrow had deserved a goal in that game.
Two months earlier, it was to be the first time since March 15, 1965, the Stags were to hit eight goals in a league fixture. In the end, the scoreline read Stags 8, Barrow 1, exactly the same score-line with which QPR were routed in the old FL Third Division then. It was also to be the first time in almost 50 years of Barrow FL, current BSP, Blue Square North and Northern Premier football, the Bluebirds had been hit for eight (details for some seasons not check-able). On November 30, 1963, Barrow were routed for eight in a 8-2 defeat at the old Aldershot club in a Division Four fixture.
When the sides clashed at Mansfield in mid-March 2012, it was then to be the Stags' biggest-ever BSP victory, and the Stags' biggest one since their last home game in the old fourth division as Champions on April 21, 1975. Then, the Iron of Scunthorpe were melted to a 7-0 scoreline. Almost 37 years later, the Barrow Bluebirds were clipped to the same score. A scoreline which had been even higher had it not been for Barrow's two goalies in that fixture (for more, see the Match Centre of the 2011-12 season).
That scoreline also represented the very worst of Barrow during that season. At that time, the Bluebirds hit a very barren spell with seven straight defeats without even scoring, and had twenty goals put past them then. But the very best of Barrow was also shown on several occasions that 2011-12 term, shown by beating sides like Fleetwood, Wrexham and Luton at Holker Street headquarters with Andy Cook scoring a lot. He played in the 7-0 mauling in March 2012 and later returned to Barrow, scoring 38 goals in 48 appearances.
The 2012-13 Barrow season saw a similar story. The worst before the trip to One Call Stadium was shown at Luton a month earlier, thrashed 6-1 but with only two subs. Some of the best on their following away trip, the one to Newport which ended in a surprise 2-0 victory. But Barrow's BSP fixture before the ill-fated trip to Mansfield was a good one. Before that one, Luton were on a high following their FA Cup giantkilling at Norwich. But the Luton Hatters were sent crashing down to earth more than big style thanks to an early Boyes goal, which was to be the only one in that game……
In April 2013, Barrow were fighting relegation and in the end were relegated to National League North, which was won on the final day of the 2014-15 season at Lowestoft. Then followed five seasons in the Conf National and a good FA Cup run in 2016-17 which saw Bristol Rovers kayoed at their place in the second round to a 2-1 scoreline with former Stags boss Paul Cox as Barrow manager. That season also saw Barrow finishing a then club-highest seventh position in the non-league Upper House, surpassing the eighth placing in 1982-83, their then best-ever in the non-league upper house, finishing above sides like Yeovil and Barnet. But then, this league was vastly different to now….
But how many current Stags fans remember that Barrow once belonged to the Football League before being voted out in 1972?
Below are some facts:
Barrow were founded in 1901, and twenty years later, the Bluebirds became founder members of the old Division 3 (North) and remained there until 1957-58, mostly finishing in the bottom half, i.e. five years before our election. In 1925-26, Barrow finished rock-bottom, losing fifteen out of 21 home fixtures, having to seek re-election. But in our first-ever league season, Barrow finished fifth, then with only ONE draw all season! In 1933-34, goals flew in left, right and centre at both ends in Barrow's fixtures. Scoring 116, among them their record win 12-1 at home to Gateshead, 94 goals were conceded, six more than we did let in that season.
In 1957-58, for a long time it looked likely that Barrow would qualify for the new third division. By the time of the Bluebirds' visit to Field Mill on March 8, 1958, watched by 5239, the Bluebirds were sitting in fourth position, four places above the Stags. But the Stags won 4-2, a popular result, and after that game, Barrow drew their next and lost all their remaining ten fixtures, thus finishing way below the qualifying halfway line in the table.
When playing as an inaugural member of Division Four, Barrow became the first side to lose a game with double figures. This happened on April 4, 1959, when Hartlepools (as that side was called then) routed the Cumbrians 10-1, and Barrow had to seek re-election, having had 104 goals put past them. But that record was surpassed in 1964-65 when 105 goals were conceded. Two seasons later, Barrow did not have that problem. After a mid-table finish in 1965-66, Barrow after a mid-table start of the following season catapulted up the table, mainly with high-scoring games AWAY from home. In the end, Barrow finished third netting 41 times in 23 games on their travels, scoring in EVERY away game, only our-to-be giant-killing victims West Ham scored about the same on the road that 1966-67 campaign, 40 in 21 games. But Barrow let in 36 away, compared to 18 at home then, But the home scoring record was just 35 for, yet the Bluebirds won 12 fixtures at Holker Street as well as away. The feat of scoring in EVERY away fixture is a very rare one, only emulated by two of the big four in the PL, Arsenal in 2001-02 and Manchester United the same campaign. In fact, the Bluebirds managed to hit the net in 28 consecutive away fixtures, starting with a 2-3 defeat at Luton in Division Four on May 19, 1966, ending with a 1-0 victory at Swindon in the third tier on September 26, 1967, ten days after a Bluebirds' win at Field Mill, a 2-1 on September 16, 1967 when Bill Curry netted his last-ever Stags league goal.
In the Third Division, Barrow lasted three seasons along with two others of their fellow promotees, all in the BSP during the 2012-13 season, Stockport and Southport (the third was Tranmere). This was to be the first-ever case of three teams being promoted together one season, then being relegated together a few seasons later!
When in the old third, Barrow faced the Stags in all their three seasons there, as well as we faced Barrow in our three first basement seasons in the early sixties. While in the League, Barrow visited Field Mill in 1969, and that twice with the same result! On April 19, 1969, the Stags won 4-2 with two of the West Ham game scorers on target (Dudley Roberts twice and Sharkey once, Goodfellow the other one, Barrow scorers McCarthy and McLean) in front of 5167. On December 13, the Stags again won 4-2. Once again, Dudley Roberts netted twice, Bates once and Goodfellow from the spot. Attendance then: 5068.
While in the old third, the Stags won two games out of three at Barrow. The first was the fourth in a five-match winning streak from December 23, 1967, to February 3, 1968. The second one was our up-to-date latest EFL win at Holker Street on September 13, 1969, when Barrow lost nine Division Three games in a row from September 6 to October 11 1969 inclusive. Both Stags Division Three wins at Barrow were by the only goal of the game. Scorer on January 20, 1968, was Dai Jones, while the scorer in September 1969 was one of the scorers in the West Ham FA Cup giant-killing game the previous campaign, Nick Sharkey.
On October 27, 1962, the Stags routed Barrow 5-0 at Field Mill, the second of three consecutive home victories to a 14-0 score-line in all, yet Barrow themselves have won 5-0 at Field Mill on two occasions. On September 17, 1949, the Stags recorded their first win at Barrow, scorer Coole, one of quite a few players having appeared for both outfits.
The Stags scorers in October 1962 were the last two players in the FL to score 30 goals or more for the same club, Ken Wagstaff and Roy Chapman, who both netted twice in front of 8276. The fifth goal was an own-goal.
Barrow's two 5-0 wins at Field Mill were notched in 1933-34 and on the opening day of the 1953-54 season, both in division 3 (N). Our 2-0 victory on April 18, 1949 was the fourth of five consecutive Field Mill fixtures without conceding, a record broken in early 2009 with the clean sheet in the home game against Forest Green on March 14, 2009. The first-ever Field Mill fixture against Barrow was won on January 7, 1933, to a 2-1 scoreline thanks to strikes from Bowater and Readman in our first home fixture since our record FL win 9-2 against Rotherham on December 27, 1932, with Bowater and Readman as two hat-trick hitmen, the third was Hoyland.
After relegation in 1969-70, things went from bad to worse for Barrow. Having been re-elected in 1970-71 despite being whipping-boys most of that season but with seventeen odd-goal defeats out of 31 (details checked), the Cumbrians were in the re-election zone again the following season, despite gaining fifteen points more in 1971-72 compared to 1970-71. But in 1971-72, Hereford had their marvellous FA-Cup run (just ask Newcastle!) and that proved fateful. In the second ballot, Barrow were voted out at Hereford's expense. Therefore, the Stags did not face Barrow in the Fourth Division after their relegation.
Yet in Barrow's final league game at Exeter on April 29, 1972 before being voted out, there were Stags connections. Not only an ex-Stag, unveiled as John Rowlands. He did not figure against Barrow in 1967-68, but in 1971-72, after playing for Torquay and Exeter, netted five times in Barrow's fateful 1971-72 campaign, The other Stags connection was one to be. Unveiled as Ian McDonald, he played about half of Barrow's league outings then. McDonald later travelled a few miles further north to another doomed north-western club, Workington, before being transferred to Liverpool, from where McDonald travelled to Mansfield and played a part in the 1976-77 promotion season.
But had the three-points ruling been in force in 1972, Barrow had not even had to seek re-election!!!
A few hard seasons in Northern Premier League followed, in 1972-73 finishing bottom but one, playing sides like Wigan, Macclesfield, the old Bradford PA, Morecambe, yet somehow Barrow managed to become a founder-member of the current BSP way back in 1979-80. Relegated in 1982-83, the Cumbrians came back immediately, finishing rock-bottom in 1985-86, came back again and survived a few campaigns until a 5-0 defeat at Colchester on the final day of the 1991-92 season confirmed relegation. Barrow played one current BSP season in 1998-99 when Hereford of all teams were one of the Bluebirds' opponents. But the Cumbrians were in dire financial straits then, and that was before the current administration ruling. Due to the off-the-field troubles, Barrow were demoted in 1998-99.
The furthest Barrow has reached in the FA Cup is the third round. From one such fixture is the all-time attendance record at Holker Street. On January 9, 1954, then Second Division Swansea travelled to Holker Street and managed a replay, gate was 16874. Some current and former PL sides have also visited Barrow in the FA Cup over the years. Wolves in 1959, Southampton in 1967 (needing a replay at The Dell to progress) and Leicester in 1968.
Up to the 2010-11 season, Barrow reached the first round or further for four seasons running. In 2006-07, Bristol Rovers (who also faced Barrow in all their Third Division campaigns) only just went through in front of TV cameras. And in 2007-08, Bournemouth were in trouble big style in a replay, being only seconds from crashing out. The Cherries needed penalties to dispose of a brave Barrow side whose supporters were good value for their long trip to the South Coast in midweek!
At that time, Barrow were much closer to the drop zone than the playoff one. After the FA Cup adventure, Barrow played some twenty games unbeaten in Blue Square North, winning sixteen, thus sneaking into the playoff zone along with former league opponents Southport. But by beating Stalybridge in the final, Barrow were back in the non-league upper house again.
A couple of seasons later, Barrow even managed the third round after disposing of the 2008-09 League Two champions and current PL side, Brentford, at Holker Street. The reward was a plum tie at then PL outfit Middlesbrough, and lost only 2-1 in front of 7000 travelling supporters to the same Boro which beat the Stags 2-0 in the fourth round the previous campaign at Field Mill in front of millions of TV viewers. In 2009-10, the Bluebirds reached the third round again, beaten at Sunderland as well as winning the FA Trophy, beating Stevenage in the Final. And their latest FA Cup third round appearance in 2017 was overseen by Paul Cox following the giant-killing of Bristol Rovers to a 2-1 scoreline at their place in the second round.
The Stags v Barrow fixture at Field Mill in the 2010-11 was postponed twice before being played on April 12, 2011, in front of the lowest post-WW II Field Mill league crowd, a paltry 1253. In fact, the Stags’ first-ever Conf defeat was inflicted by Barrow at their place on August 23, 2008. For more details, see the Match Centre.
So the Stags have been involved in two firsts against Barrow in preview history: their first-ever Conf defeat, and Barrow’s first win as a club within the Football league since 1972.
Not only the two above-mentioned players have played for the Stags as well as for Barrow. To name but two: Tony Ford, Bob Ledger. Recent ones include Andy Cook and Chris Clements, latter played for Cheltenham against the Stags two seasons ago. Calvin Andrew, the Spireite slayer at their place in 2013, played a few games for the Bluebirds after their clash with the Stags in March 2021, eleven games, one goal at Stevenage.
Played for both sides in all competitions: Calvin Andrew, Paul Black, Jordan Bowery, Chris Clements, Les Clenshaw, Andy Cook, William Coole, George Darwin, Dion Donohue, Paul Edwards, Fred Ferrari, Tony Ford, Verdi Godwin, Simon Grand, Liam Hearn, Gareth Jelleyman, Harold Kay, Keith Kennedy, Otis Khan, Fred Laycock, Bob Ledger, Ian McDonald, Jack McKenna, Jacob Parsons, Nathan Peel, Fred Roebuck, John Rowlands, Jon Shaw, Richard Sutton, Stuart Thom, Jack Thomas, Neil Wainwright, Adi Yussuf.
Managed both sides: Paul Cox.
At Mansfield: P 29, W 16, D 4, L 9, GF 74, GA 47
At Barrow: P 29, W 7, D 7, L 15, GF 38, GA 56
Season At Field Mill At Holker Street
1932-33 2-1 1933-01-07 0-1 1932-09-03 Division 3 (N)
1933-34 0-5 1933-11-11 3-6 1934-03-24 Division 3 (N)
1934-35 3-2 1935-02-09 0-3 1934-09-29 Division 3 (N)
1935-36 1-3 1935-11-23 2-2 1936-03-28 Division 3 (N)
1936-37 2-1 1936-08-29 2-2 1936-12-26 Division 3 (N)
1947-48 1-0 1948-01-24 0-1 1948-05-01 Division 3 (N)
1948-49 2-0 1949-04-18 0-1 1948-04-15 Division 3 (N)
1949-50 1-1 1950-01-21 1-0 1949-09-17 Division 3 (N)
1950-51 4-0 1950-09-16 3-2 1951-01-20 Division 3 (N)
1951-52 2-1 1951-09-01 1-1 1951-12-29 Division 3 (N)
1952-53 2-2 1953-02-07 0-3 1952-09-20 Division 3 (N)
1953-54 2-3 1953-09-28 2-4 1953-09-21 Division 3 (N)
1954-55 0-5 1954-08-21 2-2 1954-12-18 Division 3 (N)
1955-56 4-0 1956-01-21 1-4 1955-09-17 Division 3 (N)
1956-57 1-3 1957-03-09 0-2 1956-10-27 Division 3 (N)
1957-58 4-2 1958-03-08 1-2 1957-10-26 Division 3 (N)
1960-61 5-1 1960-11-19 1-1 1961-01-17 Division 4 (old)
1961-62 0-1 1961-08-21 1-1 1961-08-28 Division 4 (old)
1962-63 5-0 1962-10-27 2-3 1963-03-16 Division 4 (old)
1967-68 1-2 1967-09-16 1-0 1968-01-20 Division 3 (old)
1968-69 4-2 1969-04-19 0-3 1968-09-14 Division 3 (old)
1969-70 4-2 1969-12-13 1-0 1969-09-13 Division 3 (old)
2008-09 2-2 2009-04-11 1-2 2008-08-23 BSP
2009-10 4-1 2009-08-18 1-3 2009-09-29 BSP
2010-11 1-1 2011-04-12 2-2 2011-02-19 BSP
2011-12 7-0 2012-03-17 3-2 2011-09-17 BSP
2012-13 8-1 2013-02-09 4-0 2013-04-06 BSP
2020-21 2-4 2020-10-27 0-2 2021-03-06 League Two
2021-22 0-1 2021-10-02 3-1 2022-01-22 League Two
1928-29 2-1 1928-12-08 Round 2 at Barrow
1936-37 4-0 1936-11-28 Round 1 at Barrow (Harston hat-trick)
Expect a tight game on Saturday. Come on Mansfield!
Stockholm, July 4, 2008, 15.00 GMT. Good news came, K.H. gone. March 1, 2012. Ground purchased.