Barrow A.F.C.

Full name Barrow Association Football Club
Nickname(s) The Bluebirds, The Ziggers (pre-1970s)
Founded 1901 (1901)
Ground Holker Street
Ground Capacity 4,414 (1,000 seated)
Chairman Paul Casson
Manager Paul Cox
League National League
2015–16 National League, 11th
Website Club home page

Barrow Association Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England. The club participates in the National League, the fifth tier of the English league system. Barrow play their home games at Holker Street, (currently sponsored as the "Furness Building Society Stadium"), close to the town centre and approximately 547 yds (0.5 km) from Barrow Railway Station.

The club spent over fifty years in the Football League between 1921 and 1972, achieving promotion to Division 3 by finishing 3rd in the Football League Fourth Division in the 1966–67 season. The highest league period in the club's history was to be short-lived and a return to Division 4 came after relegation in 1969–70 season. Fortunes never improved and at the end of the 1971–72 season, after an unsuccessful bid for re-election, Barrow were voted out of the Football League, to be replaced by Hereford United of the Southern League. Barrow have since spent their time in the top two levels of non-league football, having been promoted five times to the Conference (of which they were a founder member), most recently as Conference North champions in 2014–15. In addition they have twice won non-league football's most prestigious cup competition, the FA Trophy – in 1990 and 2010, becoming the only club to have won the Trophy at both old and new Wembley Stadium.

The club colours are blue and white, though the combination of these has varied over time, leading to their nickname "The Bluebirds". Attendances at the club's Holker Street ground vary – the home record of 16,874 was set against Swansea Town in the FA Cup Third Round in 1954 – but during the 1990s and 2000s the average remained consistently between 800 and 1,500. Average attendance stood at 1456[1] during the 2014–15 season. Barrow are owned by Dallas-based businessman Paul Casson, who purchased the club for £600,000 in September 2014.


Early years

Barrow were founded on 16 July 1901 at the old Drill Hall (later the Palais) in the Strand and played initially at the Strawberry Ground, before moving to Ainslie Street[2] and then on to Little Park, Roose.[3] In 1903 Barrow was elected to Division Two of the Lancashire Combination[4] and in 1908 the club won promotion to the first division.[3] In 1909, Barrow moved once more to Holker Street, the stadium that they still occupy today. The club remained in the Lancashire Combination for up to and after the First World War, winning the league in the 1920–21 season. This victory preceded the formation of the Football League Third Division North in the 1921–22 season, and Barrow became one of the league's founder members.[2]

Football League years

In their early years as a league club, Barrow were as notable for their absence of success as any achievements.[2][5] Their highest finish before the Second World War was 5th in the 1931–32 season. In 1933–34 season Barrow finished in 8th position. Barrow remained in the lowest tier of the Football League when football resumed after the war, and were founder members of Football League Division Four in 1958–59.[6] The 1950s saw greater success in the FA Cup, however. The club's record crowd of 16,874 watched Barrow draw 2–2 with Swansea Town in the 1953–54 FA Cup.[4] A few years later this was followed by a Third Round tie in the 1958–59 competition against the then Football League champions Wolverhampton Wanderers at Holker Street. Wolves, captained by Billy Wright, won 4–2.

The late 1960s finally saw Barrow win promotion, after a third-place finish under the management of Don McEvoy in the 1966–67 Fourth Division.[7] McEvoy's successor, Colin Appleton, lead Barrow to their highest ever final league position of eighth in the Football League Third Division the following season. The club topped the Third Division league table for one day during the season, the highest position that they have ever held. During this period defender Brian Arrowsmith became the player to make the most Football League appearances for Barrow.[7] Barrow remained in the third flight of English football for another two seasons before returning to the basement in 1970. Financial difficulties combined with poor performances saw Barrow twice up for re-election in 1971 and 1972. On the second occasion, at the end of the 1971–72 season, they were voted out of the Football League to be replaced by Hereford United.[7] Though the reasons for losing the re-election were many, three features – Barrow's geographic isolation, Hereford United's FA Cup victory against Newcastle United and the decision of the Barrow board to introduce a speedway track around pitch at Holker Street, as a means of off-setting financial difficulties – have all been highlighted as contributing to Barrow's relegation.[8] Barrow joined the Northern Premier League for the start of the 1972–73 season.[9] Barrow spent a total of 51 seasons in the Football League.[7]

Return to Non-League

Barrow's league position since their election to Division Three (North) in 1922

To gain access to the Northern Premier League, the club had to promise to remove the infamous speedway track from Holker Street,[10] though it remained until 1974. Barrow subsequently struggled in the Northern Premier with low financial resources.[11] However, in 1979 Barrow were invited to join the new Alliance Premier League, the first national division in non-league football. In 1981 the club won the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy, its first success as a non-league club since winning the Lancashire Combination in 1921, but relegation followed in 1983.[12] Under manager Vic Halom Barrow won the Northern Premier League title the following season, but were relegated again by 1986. Just before relegation, the club hired Ray Wilkie as manager, who went on to lead Barrow to their then most successful period in non-league football.[13]

After a number of close misses, Barrow won promotion back to the renamed Vauxhall Conference in 1988–89, finishing champions of the Northern Premier League.[13] Driven by the goals of Colin Cowperthwaite, the club's record appearance holder and record goalscorer,[14] Barrow achieved two respectable finishes in the Conference – 10th in 1989–90 and 14th the season after. As well as league success, Wilkie had a number of successful cup runs. In 1988, Barrow reached the FA Trophy semi-final, losing to Enfield after a replay. The first leg at Holker Street attracted 6,002 supporters – still a non-league record for the club. The season after, Barrow reached the 1st round of the FA Cup, losing out 3–1 against Rotherham United.

In 1990, Barrow won their first major trophy as a non-league club, the FA Trophy. In the final they beat Leek Town at Wembley. Scoring the first and third goals was Kenny Gordon, a player who was not normally found on the score sheet, and who was playing his final game for his hometown club before emigrating to Australia.[15] Other notable members of the squad included Kenny Lowe, who was sold to Barnet for £40,000 after the final, then a club record fee.[16] The following season, benefiting from direct entry to the first round, Barrow made the third round of the FA Cup for the first time as a non-league club, losing 1–0 away to Third Division high fliers Bolton Wanderers.

Unfortunately Wilkie was forced to step down during the 1991–92 due to health problems. That season Barrow would be relegated back to the Northern Premier League, and also coincided with Cowperthwaite's retirement, after a fifteen-year career with Barrow, finishing with 704 appearances and 282 goals.[14] Wilkie died in December 1992, aged 56,[17] and the road outside Barrow's Holker Street ground was later named 'Wilkie Road' in his honour.

Turmoil of the 1990s

Following Wilkie's departure and Barrow's subsequent relegation, the club had three mediocre seasons in the Northern Premier League. In February 1995, Barrow were purchased by Stephen Vaughan, a Scouse-boxing promoter and businessman.[18] Vaughan poured money into the club, building an all-seater stand and allowing the club to sign players of Conference-standard.[19] The Bluebirds achieved promotion to the Conference in 1997–98, under manager Owen Brown.[18][19]

Vaughan, who had connections with Liverpool drug-dealer Curtis Warren,[18] was soon being investigated for money laundering,[18][19][20][21] although no charges were ever brought on the issue.[20][22] Vaughan left the club at the end of 1998, withdrawing his financial support that had been keeping it afloat.[18] It transpired that the club's main asset, its Holker Street ground, had been sold for £410,000 to Northern Improvements, a company Vaughn had an interest in.[19][23] In January 1999, the club were the subject of a compulsory winding up order and a liquidator was appointed to run the club whilst trying to establish who the legal owner of the ground was.[18][19][23] A new members' company was formed with the aim of providing financial support to the club and with the long term intention of taking over the running of the football club.

In the summer of 1999 the club were thrown out of the Football Conference, despite avoiding relegation .[23] After a long dispute, and thanks to the support of the Football Association, Barrow were allowed entrance into the Northern Premier League for the 1999–2000 season, almost a month after it had commenced.[19] This reduced time in which to play their fixtures led to the scheduling of Barrow v Winsford United on 30 December 1999, recognised as the last professional or semi-professional game in the United Kingdom of the millennium. Barrow managed to survive in the Northern Premier League under manager Kenny Lowe, despite having to create an almost entirely new squad. The team improved over the following few years despite remaining in administration. They twice missed out narrowly on promotion back to the Conference, finishing second and third in the 2003–04 and 2004–05 seasons respectively. The legal disputes over the ownership of Holker Street were finally resolved in August 2002 and the new members company bought the stadium from the liquidator.[19] In 2003, the Football Association finally allowed the 'football membership' to be transferred to the new company.

In April 2004, Barrow defeated local rivals Workington in a two-legged final in the UniBond Presidents (League) Cup. The game finished 6–6 on aggregate, Barrow winning on away goals. Following their failure to gain promotion to the Conference in 2004–05, Barrow became founder members of yet another division, this time the Conference North, which replaced the Northern Premier League at the level below the Conference National.

Return to the Conference National

During the following two seasons Barrow showed poor form in the league, narrowly escaping relegation at the end of 2006–07. Manager Lee Turnbull, who succeeded Lowe when the latter had to give up the job for work commitments, was sacked in 2005 and replaced by Phil Wilson. Compounding this was the jailing of defender James Cotterill for an assault committed on the pitch. In a first round FA Cup game Cotterill punched Bristol Rovers striker Sean Rigg, the incident being missed by the referee but caught by the Match of the Day cameras, resulting in Cotterill being the only English player in recent history to be jailed for an offence on the pitch.[24]

On 12 November 2007, after two years in the job, Phil Wilson was dismissed as manager. Although the sacking came two days after a good 1–1 draw in the FA Cup First Round against Bournemouth, it was the club's continued poor league form which cost the manager his job. Barrow's first team affairs were shifted to players Paul Jones, David Bayliss and Darren Sheridan. Following a decent run of results, Bayliss and Sheridan were appointed as player-managers, whilst Jones became club captain. Bayliss and Sheridan led Barrow from 20th place in the league in December to fifth, ensuring a place in the play offs for promotion to the Conference National. Barrow won the semi-final against Telford United 4–0 on aggregate, before beating Stalybridge Celtic in the playoff final, held at the Pirelli Stadium, Burton upon Trent.[25]

After an initial strong start in the Conference National, which saw Barrow top the table during the first few weeks, the club began to struggle and found themselves just above the relegation zone by January 2009. Barrow had more success in the FA Cup, beating Brentford 2–1 with goals from David Brown and Matt Henney in Round Two, their first victory over Football League opposition since their own elimination from the league in 1972. In the third round they were drawn an away tie against Middlesbrough, a Premier League team, losing 2–1.[26] More than 7,000 Barrow fans travelled to Boro's Riverside Stadium, at the time the highest away attendance at the ground in the 14 years it had been open.[26] The cup run earned the club around £250,000, allowing investment in playing resources to be made.[27] Barrow managed to retain their place in the Conference, finishing twentieth.

Having made several alterations to the squad during the summer, the club started its 2nd season in the Conference National in August 2009. After a tough start, the club put together a good run, losing only once in 16 games, and reaching the FA Cup 3rd round, where they were beaten 3–0 by Premier League side Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on 2 January 2010, watched, again, by 7,500 travelling supporters.[28][29] On 13 March 2010, a Gregg Blundell goal gave Barrow a 1–0 win away at Salisbury City in the 1st Leg of the FA Trophy Semi Final. A week later a Jason Walker double secured a 2–1 victory in the 2nd Leg to send the Bluebirds to Wembley. Having secured their position in the Conference National in the last home match of the season, Barrow went on to win the 2010 FA Trophy Final against Stevenage Borough 2–1 at Wembley Stadium, thanks to a goal by Jason Walker during extra time. This made Barrow the first and only club to win the FA Trophy at both the old and new Wembley stadiums.

The 2010–11 season was less successful for the club, although they finished in 18th place and retained their Conference National place with a 2–0 victory over Hayes and Yeading on the last day of the season.[30] Barrow failed to retain the FA Trophy due to a 2–3 defeat by Conference North side Guiseley.[31] The following season Barrow enjoyed more success in the league, eventually finishing in 13th position. In February 2012, however, Darren Sheridan left the club by mutual consent following allegations made against him.[32] Dave Bayliss remained at the club as manager.

The following season, 2012–13, Barrow were relegated from the Conference after losing 2–1 at Cambridge United on 13 April 2013. On the morning of 5 November 2013, Dave Bayliss parted company with Barrow via mutual consent. During that season, Barrow failed to win promotion back to the Conference Premier and finished 11th in the Conference North.

After a long month's wait after Bayliss' resignation, Barrow appointed former caretaker manager, Darren Edmondson on 10 December 2013.


On 1 May 2014, it was announced that members of the club had voted in favour to allow Dallas businessman Paul Casson to complete a takeover of the club.[33]

Barrow were crowned champions of the Conference North in the 2014/15 season with a 2–3 win away at Lowestoft on the final day of the season. The owner, Paul Casson, has targeted promotion in Barrow's first season back in the top flight of non-league football.[34]

In November 2015, Barrow parted company with manager Darren Edmondson after a poor run of results left them mid-table and a 1–0 defeat to rivals AFC Fylde knocked them out of the FA Cup.[35] Barrow appointed former Mansfield and Torquay boss Paul Cox as manager the next day.[36]

Colours and badge

Barrow's colours, are white and blue. A kit with blue shirts and white shorts was in use by 1912,[37] though Barrow's original colours were black and white stripes. From 1939 to 1959, a blue shirt with a white 'v' was a common design.[2] Since then, the style of Barrow's kit has varied, from predominantly blue through to predominantly white, with occasional use of stripes or hoops.[2] For the 2001–02 season, Barrow played in black and white stripes, to celebrate the club's centenary year.[38] Although the away colours of Barrow have varied over time, the club's 2010 FA Trophy victory came wearing a yellow kit with blue trim. Barrow's second kit from 2011 until 2013 was sky blue, however for the 2013/14 season, Barrow resolved back to a yellow away kit, and a blue and white hooped home kit. This colour change lasted only a year, as the club reverted to a white home kit with blue sleeves for the 2014/15 season. These kits were manufactured by Puma, who had a four-year deal due to expire at the end of the 2015/16 season, however this deal was cut one year short, as the club announced that from 2015/16, the kit would be manufactured by PlayerLayer, as announced on 30 December 2014.[39] The new home kit will be predominantly white with a royal blue trim, blue shorts and white socks, whereas the away kit will be a change from the yellow of recent years to a royal blue shirt with a white trim, white shorts and blue socks.

The front of the jersey was sponsored by Chas Kendall/Coral bookmakers for many years, but for 2015/16 the bluebirds' jerseys will adorn the logo of the St Mary's Hospice charity.

The club's badge is based on the Barrow-in-Furness coat of arms.[2] The badge features a submarine, representing the town's shipbuilding industry, a red rose symbolising Lancashire and an image of a football. Copied from the town badge[2] is a rebus of a bee and an arrow, representing the club's name ("Bee-arrow").


Main article: Holker Street
Holker Street Stadium at Dusk.

Holker Street has been Barrow's ground since 1910.[3] Prior to this it had hosted Hindpool Athletic football club, and before that was the site of a rubbish dump[41] The first game at the stadium was a 5–2 win for Barrow against Eccles Borough. The ground was gradually developed so that by the resumption of football after World War Two, it had four fully covered terraced stands[42] The record attendance came in 1954 when 16,784 fans watched an FA Cup match against Swansea Town. Floodlights were erected in 1963,[7] and the ground hosted speedway meetings during the 1970s which involved the demolition of the 'Steelworks End', which had been damaged by fire, the re-positioning of the pitch and the removal of the front rows of terracing.[41] Following the removal of the speedway track, the pitch was moved back to its original orientation and a new leisure centre with squash courts was constructed.[41]

Under Stephen Vaughan's ownership, a new all-seater Main Stand with a capacity of around 1000 was built at the Wilkie Road side,[19] but since then, the only significant change to the ground has been the removal of an unsafe roof over the Holker Street end terraces. Described as having "a traditional, old fashioned feel",[41] the ground has three sides of terracing. The Main Stand is raised above the central portion of the pitch, with flat standing on either side.[42] The Popular Side now has the only covered terracing, opposite the Main Stand.[43][44]


Current squad

As of 25 October 2016.[45]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 England GK Joel Dixon
2 England DF Shaun Beeley
3 England DF Nick Anderton
4 England MF Andy Parry
5 England DF Danny Livesey
6 France DF Moussa Diarra
7 England MF Andy Haworth
8 England MF Alex-Ray Harvey
9 England FW Richie Bennett
10 England FW Ross Hannah
11 England FW Jordan Williams
12 England GK Andy Coughlin
No. Position Player
14 Saint Kitts and Nevis FW Harry Panayiotou
15 England MF Elliot Newby
16 England MF Lindon Meikle
17 England MF Paul Turnbull
18 England MF Liam Hughes
19 Scotland DF Euan Murray
20 England FW Byron Harrison
22 England MF Ryan Yates (on loan from Nottingham Forest)
23 England MF Akil Wright (on loan from Fleetwood Town)
25 England DF Myles Anderson
Sweden GK Tim Erlandsson (on loan from Nottingham Forest)

Current Management

Position Name Nation
Manager Paul Cox England
Assistant Manager Gary Simpson England[46]
Physiotherapist Sean Riley England
Club Doctor Dr Askari
Kit Man Les Houghton England


As of 23 November 2015. Only league matches are counted.

Name Nat From To Record
Jacob Fletcher England July 1901 April 1904 7833153014613542.31%
E. Freeland England April 1904 ???? ???????
W. Smith England ???? ???? ???????
Alec Craig England ???? May 1907 ???????
Roger Charnley England May 1907 ???? ???????
Jacob Fletcher England ???? September 1909 ???????
Jas P. Phillips England September 1909 July 1913 ???????
John Parker England July 1913 July 1920 11455164323219748.25%
William Dickinson England July 1920 May 1922 723711241218251.39%
Jimmy Atkinson England August 1922 March 1923 3011415444336.67%
J.E. Moralee England April 1923 January 1926 11229186512121725.89%
Robert Greenhalgh England January 1926 February 1926 2002370%
William Dickinson England February 1926 October 1927 671212436118217.91%
John S. Maconnachie Scotland October 1927 December 1928 521215257011623.08%
Andrew Walker England January 1929 June 1930 62167397414225.81%
Thomas Miller England June 1930 November 1930 163310173918.75%
John Commins England November 1930 May 1932 65365241379655.38%
Tommy Lowes England May 1932 April 1937 20473478435137835.78%
James Y. Bissett England April 1937 December 1937 194213143621.05%
Fred Pentland England January 1938 June 1940 8429233214614934.52%
John Commins England August 1945 March 1947 541710277110431.48%
Andy Beattie Scotland March 1947 April 1949 953626331069537.89%
Jack Hacking England May 1949 May 1955 272965711936342135.29%
Joe Harvey England July 1955 June 1957 9233184113714535.87%
Norman Dodgin England July 1957 May 1958 46131518667428.26%
Willie Brown Scotland July 1958 August 1959 46910275110419.57%
Bill Rogers England August 1959 October 1959 15357243720%
Ron Staniforth England October 1959 July 1964 21367618531236031.46%
Don McEvoy England July 1964 July 1967 13852325420723537.68%
Colin Appleton England August 1967 January 1969 703213251039045.71%
Fred Else England January 1969 February 1969 50142140%
Norman Bodell England March 1969 February 1970 4691127388219.57%
Don McEvoy England February 1970 November 1971 781518458814219.23%
Bill Rogers England November 1971 November 1971 2011230%
Jack Crompton England December 1971 June 1972 2810513254035.71%
Peter Kane England July 1972 June 1974 922513549819527.17%
Brian Arrowsmith England July 1974 November 1975 671218376111517.91%
Ron Yeats Scotland December 1975 February 1977 4615823619032.61%
Alan Coglan and Billy McAdams England Northern Ireland February 1977 July 1977 215313263823.81%
David Hughes England July 1977 July 1977 0000000%
Brian McManus England July 1977 November 1979 10331234911516130.10%
Micky Taylor England November 1979 May 1983 14752356019220635.37%
Vic Halom England July 1983 May 1984 4229103923869.05%
Peter McDonnell England July 1984 November 1984 17593272129.41%
Joe Wojciechowicz England November 1984 December 1984 1001130%
Brian Kidd England December 1984 April 1985 19568142026.32%
John Cooke England April 1985 April 1985 31023933.33%
Bob Murphy England April 1985 May 1985 2011240%
Maurice Whittle England May 1985 October 1985 1204811290%
David Johnson England October 1985 March 1986 16529132831.25%
Glenn Skivington and Neil McDonald England England March 1986 March 1986 40044100%
Ray Wilkie England March 1986 November 1991 23693628132531139.41%
Neil McDonald England November 1991 December 1991 41037925%
John King England December 1991 May 1992 225611243622.73%
Graham Heathcote England May 1992 December 1992 231076403143.48%
Richard Dinnis England December 1992 October 1993 3012612454040%
Mick Cloudsdale England October 1993 June 1994 311489453545.16%
Tony Hesketh England June 1994 March 1996 7432162612110143.24%
Neil McDonald and Franny Ventre England England March 1996 March 1996 2002360%
Mike Walsh England March 1996 October 1996 201154322055%
Owen Brown England October 1996 January 1999 1004922291279549%
Shane Westley England January 1999 July 1999 16448132225%
Greg Challender England July 1999 August 1999 0000000%
Kenny Lowe England August 1999 May 2003 17678465230723344.32%
Lee Turnbull England May 2003 November 2005 10241283316414640.20%
Darren Edmondson England November 2005 December 2005 31205333.33%
Phil Wilson England December 2005 November 2007 782024348510025.64%
Darren Sheridan and David Bayliss England England November 2007 February 2012 16859505921522035.11%

David Bayliss

England February 2012 November 2013 911516305911016.48%[47]

Alex Meechan

England November 2013 December 2013 40223120%
Darren Edmondson England December 2013 November 2015 9646212947.92%
Paul Cox England November 2015 Present 4623194804550%[48]


League history

From To League Level Total Seasons[49]
1901–02 1902–03 Lancashire League N/A 2
1903–04 1904–05 Lancashire Combination Division Two N/A 2
1905–06 1907–08 Lancashire Combination Division One N/A 3
1908–09 1910–11 Lancashire Combination Division Two N/A 5
1911–12 1920–21 Lancashire Combination Division One N/A 6
1921–22 1957–58 Football League Division Three North 3 31
1958–59 1966–67 Football League Division Four 4 Decrease 9
1967–68 1969–70 Football League Division Three 3 Increase 3
1970–71 1971–72 Football League Division Four 4 Decrease 2
1972–73 1978–79 Northern Premier League 5 Decrease 7
1979–80 1982–83 Alliance Premier League 5 Steady 4
1983–84 1983–84 Northern Premier League 6 Decrease 1
1984–85 1985–86 Alliance Premier League 5 Increase 2
1986–87 1988–89 Northern Premier League 6 Decrease 3
1989–90 1991–92 Football Conference 5 Increase 3
1992–93 1997–98 Northern Premier League 6 Decrease 6
1998–99 1998–99 Football Conference 5 Increase 1
1999-00 2003–04 Northern Premier League 6 Decrease 4
2004–05 2007–08 Conference North 6 Steady 4
2008–09 2012–13 Conference National 5 Increase 5
2013–14 2014–15 Conference North 6 Decrease 2
2015–16 Current National League 5 Increase 1



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External links

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