An away trip to Barrow couldn’t have come at a more difficult time, on the brink of the festive holidays and with industrial action by the railway (SWR) in operation from 2nd December.
And since defeating us early doors, Barrow AFC have gone on a storming run and sit currently top of the tree in the National League. Barrow also have what we crave most; a proven goalscorer in John Rooney.
Despite Barrow’s distance and the near 700-mile round trip and a £200 price tag, this is one ground that I would particularly like to cross of the list.
For those of you don’t know me, Aldershot away games were what I specialised in back in the eighties and visited places like Vale Park, Feethams, Springfield Park and Valley Parade.
Days when you had to hide your scarf under your jumper and watch your P’S and Q’s, unlike today where, in the National League, fans can mix occasionally and you have no fear walking around a strange town in your replica shirt.
They were great times but once I was in my twenties I stuck mostly to home games. It’s only been the last couple of years I got the bug again and have enjoyed following the team this season so far to Barnet, Chorley, Dagenham, Harrogate and Torquay,
The Good Samaritan
There is a lovely story to tell about Bradford. The Spion Kop was open terrace and divided and we had around 100 fans that day. There were some disturbances and one of their local young’uns I’d spoken with (I was sixteen, going on seventeen and he fourteen), kindly walked with me to Forster Square station, made sure I got on my train safe and sound. I wrote to the club to thank him via them and they put a message in their next home programme, at home to Wimbledon (old school Wimbledon of course).
Back to this game, given our recent improvements and on the back of Chorley going there last night (although blowing a two-goal lead) and getting a draw, maybe this game is not as daunting as we may fear?
Going all that way and getting beaten is something we will just have to risk but I will feel in good spirits of course for this game if we have seen off Chesterfield at the Rec on Saturday!
BARROW AFC GROUND
Furness Building Society Stadium
Capacity: 5,045 (Seats 1,000)
Address: Wilkie Road, Barrow-in-Furness, LA14 5UW
Telephone: 01229 666010
Pitch Size: To be advised
Pitch Type: Grass
Club Nickname: Bluebirds
Year Ground Opened: 1909
Undersoil Heating: No
16,874 v Swansea City
FA Cup 3rd Round, January 1954.
2017-2018: 1,181 (National League)
2016-2017: 1,293 (National League)
2015-2016: 1,336 (National League)
Holker Street is a traditional old looking ground that has been brightened up by replicating the team’s blue and white colours on the stands around the stadium. On one side is the colourful looking Brian Arrowsmith Stand, named after a former Barrow Manager and Player, who spent his entire career at the club. This is the main stand at the ground and is seated and covered. It has some supporting pillars along the front of the stand and runs for around half the length of the pitch. It is situated on the half way line and is raised above pitch level, meaning that you have to climb a small staircase to access it. The areas to either side of the stand are flat standing spaces.
On one side is the Ray Wilkie Popular Side Stand. This is a terrace which is covered towards the centre. The Crossbar Terrace (also known as the Steelworks End) at one of the stadium, is on one side, a small open terrace, whereas the other side is not really used for spectators. In fact, this area houses the Club Offices which tends to be detrimental to the overall look of the ground. Opposite is the larger Holker Street Terrace, which although open to the elements is the traditional home end of the ground. The stadium has a set of tall modern floodlights, although the old classic looking floodlights that they replaced are still currently in place.
Holker Street has been the home of the Club since 1910 and although it is currently known as the Furness Building Society Stadium, in a corporate sponsorship deal, many fans still refer to it as Holker Street.
The Club has its own club house bar called the ‘Crossbar’. This bar welcomes away supporters and has SKY and BT Sports television. Elaine Warden informs me; ‘There is a pub next door to the ground called the Soccer Bar which is independent from the club and popular with visiting supporters as well as home fans.’
Otherwise, if you go along Walney Road (A590) towards the town centre firstly passing Asda, then turning left onto Duke Street, you will find the Ambrose Hotel, which has a selection of real ale. Alternatively, continue on the A590 passing first ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’ pub (part of the Hungry Horse chain) before you will reach a retail park that has a number of eating outlets including a McDonalds and KFC as well as a Tesco Extra.
In Crellin Street there is The Robin Hood Inn which only serves two changing beers. On Hollow Lane in Newbarns there’s the Farmers Arms which shows sport on tv, Black Sheep Best Bitter and has another three changing beers.
If you have a bit more time on your hands you might park at the Holker Street end of the ground then you can take the 10-15 minute walk down Holker Street into the town centre. Peter Naylor adds: ‘At the junction of Holker Street and Abbey Road, near the railway station, you will find a fine action statue of Emlyn Hughes, who came from Barrow.
Across the road is ‘The Duke of Edinburgh’, a developing four star hotel with a good selection of drinks generally, real ales in particular, while walking a further block to your right you will encounter ‘The Furness Railway’, a Wetherspoons pub themed to the company that led to the development of Barrow. This pub is listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide.
Speaking of real ale, The Last Orders is perhaps one to avoid as it doesn’t serve real ales!
The Duke Of Edinburgh
Situated on the edge of the town centre near the station, the Duke does not get as noisy as similar large bars in the town. The bar has an airy feel with modern, comfortable furniture and a fine open fire. Paintings by local artists are displayed around the walls. Good quality, reasonably priced bar meals are available, including pizzas. There is a separate restaurant and large function room. Beers are mainly from Lancaster (owned by the same company) with guest ales plus three craft keg ales and bottled beers from around the world.
Regular cask ales
This pub serves 4 regular beers.
- Lancaster Amber
- Lancaster Blonde
- Lancaster Red
Changing cask ales
This pub serves 4 changing beers.
Opened in February 2014, this pub/restaurant is situated next to the Premier Inn close to the Dock Museum and the town centre.
Leave the M6 at Junction 36 and take the A590 towards Barrow-in-Furness. As you enter the outskirts of Barrow you will pass a fire station on your right. You should now be able to see the floodlights of the stadium over on your left. Turn left into Wilkie Road and then right into Holker Street. Plenty of street parking is available.
Post Code Sat-Nav: LA14 5UW
Barrow-in-Furness Railway Station is located just under a mile away from the Holker Street ground. It is served by trains from Lancaster and Carlisle. Emerge from the station and the small station entrance road leads directly onto Holker Street. Look right and you will be able to see the floodlights of the ground further up Holker Street itself.’
A Cumbrian weekender?
There’s a Travelodge just across the road from the football ground. You can book a double room for £29.99 with optional breakfast and Virgin wifi costing you £10 more.
I could only see one review on TripAdvisor for this establishment – make of it what you will!
Featured Guest House
The Maindee, 75 Abbey Road
EXCELLENTA comfortable home from home. This is probably the cleanest place I have ever stayed. I usually don’t stay in guest houses,prefering hotels. I choose Maindee for the close location to the railway station. I am glad I did. I will stay again
The hosts were friendly and there were chocolates
I’ve found an outbound route that eschews SWR:
Leave Friday 6th December, return Sunday 8th December.
SWR INDUSTRIAL ACTION
This seriously impairs my own travel plans right now and I am hesitant to book accomodation and rail tickets until the day before when the situation can be clearer on the transport issues.
Industrial action announced to affect South Western Railway from 2 December until 2 January
South Western Railway routes
Train operators affected
The RMT union have announced industrial action, which will affect South Western Railway services from Monday 2 December until Thursday 2 January.
You can find more information here.
On Mondays to Fridays, from Monday 2 December until Friday 20 December, a reduced service will run:
- Some routes will not have a train service or a replacement bus service
- Services will finish earlier than normal at around 23:00.
- Peak services will be much busier than normal, and queuing arrangements may be put in place at busy stations
- Please check your journey before travelling and allow extra time to complete your journey. You can use the National Rail Enquiries real-time Journey Planner to check your journey up to and including Friday 6 December.
Plans are still being finalised for weekends, and for the period from 23 December to 2 January. Please continue to check back for more details of the services that will operate.
Check before you travel:
You can use the National Rail Enquiries real-time Journey Planner to check your journey up to and including Friday 6 December. The normal planned service, not the strike day service, is currently showing for all the other strike dates.
Barrow’s success has seen their home attendances increase rapidly of late. The best thing that can happen to stop these tinpot village teams taking over the likes of the NL is to get up there and WIN!