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🔎 The Opposition: Barrow AFC (A)

Jed Penberthy takes an in-depth look at Tuesday night's opponents

15 August 2021

Exeter City are seeking their first victory of the season with a hefty Tuesday night trip to Barrow.

Ahead of the game, here is the lowdown of the Club by the Cumbrian Coast.

  • Founded: 1901
  • Nicknames: The Bluebirds
  • Honours: National League (2019/20), National League North (2014/15), FA Trophy (1989/90, 2009/10)
  • Home Kit: JOMA Blue circuit board patterned shirt with white sleeves, blue shorts, and white socks
  • Away Kit: JOMA Pink shirt with white trim, black shorts and pink shorts.
  • Last Season: 21st in League Two | P 46 | W 13 | D 11 | L 22 | GD -6 | Pts 50
  • Form: LWW (11th in League Two)

Barrow was home to a number of junior football clubs at the start of the twentieth century before a public meeting was called to form a senior side in the town. Almost 800 people turned up to establish Barrow AFC. A team was put together of seasoned professionals and were elected to the Lancashire League for the 1901/02 season.

On the Cumbrian coast lies Barrow-in-Furness and is home to the world-famous ship and submarine construction port. Ottoman Sub the 'Abdul Hamid' was built in the town in 1886 and was the first submarine to fire a live torpedo underwater. Most of the Royal Navy's ships since the Second World War have been built in Barrow. The Devonshire Dock Hall (the construction facility) is the tallest building in Cumbria.

In 1921, Barrow AFC were briefly elected as original members of the Third Division North though it would not be until 1958 until the Bluebird's return to League football and Division 4. In 1967 Barrow were promoted into the Third Tier until relegation beckoned in 1970. Two years later the Cumbrian's dropped out of the Football League.

The trophy cabinet was still being filled despite their stint in Non-league though. Twice Barrow won the FA Trophy, in 1990 and most recently in 2010 when they came from behind to beat Stevenage 2-1 at the new Wembley.

In 2020, Barrow returned to the fourth tier as National League Champions in Ian Evatt's second season in charge and finished comfortably above the drop zone in their return season.

The Manager

Mark Cooper

Son of the late great Terry Cooper, Mark brings all the managerial qualities of his father to Barrow AFC. Barrow landed a coup in Cooper when the former Exeter City midfielder rocked up at Holker Street and he has immediately stamped his quality on the club.

Mark Cooper.jpg

As a player, Mark made 138 appearances for the Grecians between 1989-91 and 96=96 including being part of his dad's brilliant Division 4 triumph.

On the touchline, Cooper has an impressive football league management record. He took charge of Peterborough, Swindon and Notts County before teaming up with Forest Green, where he had previously served as a player, in 2016.

Single-handedly he dragged the Gloucestershire side into the Football League for the first time in their history, though after five years at the New Lawn, Cooper departed.

Barrow have two wins from three under Cooper's guidance, growing a sense of optimism brewing in the Bluebirds fan base.

The Stadium

  • Name: Dunes Hotel Stadium (Holker Street)
  • Capacity: 5,045
  • Year opened: 1909
  • Record Attendance: 16,874 (vs Swansea Town, FA Cup Third Round 1954)
  • Address: Wilkie Road, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA14 5UW

PPAUK_SPO_Barrow_170819_004.JPG

Though the official address is Wilkie Road; Holker Street Stadium has been home to Barrow AFC since 1909. Previously the Bluebirds played at The Strawberry Ground (1901), Ainsley Street (1905), and Little Park in nearby Roose (1909).

The first Football League game played at Holker Street was against Stockport County in 1921, where 9,750 budding spectators were in attendance. The capacity record came in 1954 when over 16,000 fans watched Barrow's 2-2 draw with Swansea Town (* Now City) in the FA Cup.

Over the summer, the naming rights of the stadium switched to the Dunes Hotel.

One to Watch

Dimitri Sea

Striker Dimitri Sea is in waves of form at the start of this season. With two strikes to his name the 20-year-old Frenchman is leading the line for the Bluebirds. Sea signed as a free agent following release from the Aston Villa youth setup.

Barrow Complete Signing Of Dimitri Sea - News - Barrow Association Football  Club

He netted his first senior goal for the Cumbrian side against Hartlepool on Saturday with a nonchalantly blasted finish he must've thought was from an offside position. The strike counted and he wheeled away as the match-winner.

Sea was a confident goal scorer whilst at Villa Park netting over 20 goals for the young villains before moving to the far-North.

Head-to-Head

Exeter's latest win over Barrow was an impressive 7-1 victory albeit in 1972. Barrow proved tough opposition on their return to the Football League last year with a draw and a loss for the Grecians. In 20 fixtures against the Cumbrian club, Exeter have racked up 4-0's 3-0's and 4-2 victories- but the openness of Tuesday's fixture remains to be seen. Sixty-two goals have been scored since the first encounter in 1958.

  • Exeter City wins: 5
  • Draws: 9
  • Barrow wins: 6

Recent encounters

Exeter City 1-1 Barrow AFC | Sky Bet League Two | St James Park | May 8, 2021

Matt Jay's first half strike wasn't enough, as Exeter City narrowly missed out of the post-season play-offs. Tom Beadling was on target for the visitors.

Barrow AFC 2-1 Exeter City | Sky Bet League Two | Holker Street | April 13, 2021

Stoppage time goals in both halves from Patrick Brough and Scott Quigley sealed the game for Barrow, as Pierce Sweeney's late volley proved too little, too late for the Grecians.

Exeter City 7-1 Barrow AFC | Division Four | St James Park | April 29, 1972

John Neale scored his first goal for Exeter City as the Bluebird's were relegated from the Football League.

Barrow .jpg


And Finally

At the end of the 1971/72 season, the club finished third bottom of Division Four and required to make its eleventh re-election application.

In June 1972, they were faced in the ballot by Southern League Hereford United who had come to the nation's attention after a spectacular FA Cup success over First Division Newcastle United. The first ballot saw the votes tied at 26 each.

The second ballot saw United collect 29 votes to Barrow's 20 and, after 51 years, the Club had lost its much prized Football League status.


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