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🔎 The Opposition: Barrow AFC (A)

Jed Penberthy takes a look at Tuesday night''s opponents

8 February 2021

On Tuesday night, Exeter City will seek to continue the recent improving form with a hefty trip to Barrow AFC.

So, 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 shirt with white trim, blue shorts and white socks
  • Away Kit: JOMA Yellow and black shirt, black shorts, yellow socks
  • Form:DLWLL (22nd 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. Last season Barrow returned to the fourth tier as National League Champions in Ian Evatt’s second season in charge.

The Manager

Michael Jolley

Michael Jolley got an early Christmas present when he was appointed Barrow manager on 23rd of December, following the departure of David Dunn.

The 43-year old had a youth career at Barnsley before heading off to Cambridge University studying for a Bachelor's, and then Master's degree in economics. He played in three varsity matches for Cambridge. 
After a career in trading in London and New York, Jolley returned to England in 2002 and began his coaching badges at Crystal Palace in 2004. After taking charge of Scotland Universities and Burnley Under 23's. Jolley took his first step into senior football in Sweden with AFC Ekilstuna. 
In 2018, he voyaged back across the North Sea and docked at Grimsby where he would spend a year at Blundell Park before taking the reins at Barrow.

The Stadium

  • Name: Progression Solicitors Stadium
  • 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


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.

In 2019 the ground was renamed the Progressions Solicitors Stadium for sponsorship reasons.

One to Watch

Josh Kay

Contributing to eight goals this season (5G, 4A), Josh Kay has been integral to Barrow’s first year back in League Two. A man of the match performance against Mansfield proved the danger the 23-year-old possesses to opposition defences.   

Josh Kay.JPG

As Barrow’s designated set-piece taker, his delivery could prove vital if Barrow are going to trouble the City defence.


Exeter are unbeaten in their last four against Barrow and were 7-1 victors last time out. Unfortunately, that fixture was in 1972. In 18 fixtures against the Cumbrian club, Exeter have racked up 4-0’s 3-0’s and 4-2 victories- but the openness of Saturday’s fixture remains to be seen. Fifty-seven goals have been scored since the first encounter in 1958.

  • Exeter City wins: 5
  • Draws: 8
  • Barrow wins: 5

Recent encounters

Exeter City 7 Barrow AFC 1 | 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

Barrow AFC 0 Exeter City 0 |Division Four | Holker Street | March 20, 1972

Johnny Newman’s Grecian’s played out a goalless draw in the Grecians last visit to the Cumbrian coast.

Exeter City 4 Barrow AFC 2 | Division Four | St James Park | March 13 1971

Barry Rowan, Joe Gadston, Fred Binney and Alan Banks were all on the scoresheet for Exeter in a goal-fest at SJP.

Barrow 2.png

And Finally

The late great Tony Morrin played for both Barrow and Exeter City in his career. Morrin appeared for Barrow 113 times before his move to St James Park where he enjoyed six wonderful years, playing alongside other great names such as Jimmy Giles and Alan Banks.

In his time at Exeter, his most poignant fixture may well have been when Tony featured for City against Barrow in his former club’s final Football League game in 1972.

Aged 74, Tony sadly passed away on 15th December 2020 and will be firmly in our thoughts when the two sides meet again for the first time in almost 50 years on Tuesday.

How to Watch

Sadly fans can't be at the match but you can get the next best thing by purchasing a match pass at the cost of just £10 in the UK. The stream includes BBC Radio Devon commentary, score overlay and replays.

To purchase a match pass please click here.


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