Run and Football 2 Barrow 25th March 2023

After the success of my first foray into run and football last week at North Shields some might say I’ve expanded the concept to its limits already with the visit to Barrow today. From 40 minutes to just under three hours away in the car. A detour to run some Wainwrights in the Lake District instead of an out and back 10k and inviting 2 others to participate instead of doing it on my own. None of us have been to Barrow before so a new place to tick off.

About the teams

Barrow gained promotion back to the Football League in the Covid shortened season of 2019-20. The club had spend 48 years in non-league after a controversial relegation in 1972. Hereford who had won against Newcastle in the FA Cup in 1971-72 were voted by other club chairman to take the place of Barrow who had finished third bottom and were subject to re-election. A newly installed speedway track and the Cumbrian Club’s geographical isolation were cited as reasons for the demotion. Prior to 1972 Barrow had been members of the football league for over 50 years with a highest finishing position of 8th in the old Third Division (now League One). They have played at Holker Street since 1909.

The difficulties Barrow experienced with football politics pale into insignificance compared with those of AFC Wimbledon. The club were founded in 2002 after the FA gave the original Wimbledon permission to relocate to Milton Keynes. At the time Wimbledon hadn’t played at their own ground for over a decade and the owners declared they would either move the club or close it. The independent commission decided to allow the move despite the outcry of disappointment from football supporters throughout the country.

The resurrected Wimbledon started life in the 9th tier of English Football and have risen as far as the third tier (League One). The club is fan owned and they have also built a new stadium adjacent to their former home at Plough Lane raising £32 million. The glory days of the Crazy Gang, 14 years in the top flight, and their FA Cup win in 1988 are long past but the Wimbledon story has a happy ending which was impossible to predict twenty years ago.

Going For A Run

My progress towards climbing the 214 Wainwright peaks in the Lake District has been slowed by illness, injury and winter over the last few months. A trip to Barrow would give me an opportunity to climb a few more if the weather is good or maintain my fitness with something familiar if the clag comes in. The Southern lakes are on the way to Barrow so a circuit of Coniston Old Man is the perfect route.

Today I’m with Adrian. He loves the mountains but doesn’t visit enough to get hill fit. After parking in the Wanla Scar car park we set off in conditions that aren’t ideal. The lower slopes are clear but higher up is in the clouds. It is soon pretty obvious from Adrian’s laboured breathing we won’t visit any new tops today. I’m pretty relaxed about it as our clock is ticking and we can’t miss the football.

A rainbow in the car park

Two old men visit Coniston Old Man

First up Coniston Old Man, we follow the path underneath the quarry then take the most direct route to the top. At about 500m everything gets clagged in and we become silhouettes marching slowly up the hill. Climbing over 600m in a mile and a half we reach the summit in about 50 minutes. Adrian looks exhausted already but we have done the hard part and there are easier peaks to bag ahead.

Adrian on the summit of Coniston Old Man

Round the loop

From the Old Man we take in Brim Fell, Dow Crag, Buck Pike and Brown Crag without the weather ever improving. On a good day the views are outstanding but today we are enveloped in cloud with about ten metre visibility. I’m surprised we don’t get lost more with the only navigation error missing a path by about 50 metres. The only others out on the high tops look like Duke Of Edinburgh Award expeditions with their straight out of the packet waterproof jackets and trousers.

Adrian meets some DoE participants

Back to the car park

To finish the run we have a couple of downhill miles on Wanla Scar road. The road is a mountain pass connecting Coniston and the Duddon Valley. We join at its highest point near Brown Crag and follow it back to the car park. A mixture of stones and surfaces makes this a good downhill run after the punishment of the high fells. We cruise into the car park and Adrian realises he has broken both legs off the glasses he has carried around the whole route. A quick change later we are on our way to Barrow via a maze of single track roads, picturesque farms and villages.

Adrian and the legless glasses

Barrow FC V AFC Wimbledon

We collect Jacob at the ASDA next to Barrow’s ground. Easter holidays have started for students and he has traveled up on the train. Adrian is already walking like the Tin Man from the Wizard of OZ and we have standing tickets for the game. Due to the club’s history outlined above a few weeks ago I decided it would be a good idea to follow AFC Wimbledon as a lower league team to collect extra grounds and visit new places. Barrow is the first of these adventures and we don’t regret it. The ground is tidy and just the right size for the club. Inside the away end there is a small seating enclosure next to the covered standing. I’d estimate the capacity for both together to be around 500.

Away seats and standing behind the goal

The game

Wimbledon are mid table but have been on a poor run of form recently while Barrow have an outside chance of making the playoffs. To make things worse Wimbledon have an injury crisis with around 10 players unavailable and several making their first team debut including goalkeeper Nathan Broome. The atmosphere in the away end is good with a mix of songs and enthusiasm which gives the impression the fans are there to enjoy themselves. Soon after the entertainment started a Wimbledon attacking free kick found another debutant, defender Luke Jenkins, and his turn and finish put the club ahead. A mixture of delight and disbelief from the away fans at the goal after only 4 minutes.

With the home crowd subdued Wimbledon hit Barrow on the break a few times looking dangerous while the home team played nice passing football without ever looking threatening. On the stroke of halftime desperate Barrow defending and the post following a goalmouth scramble make the half time score Barrow 0 AFC Wimbledon 1.

View of the game from the away end

Second half

As the hour approaches the away end is rocking and Barrow are struggling to create anything, Adrian tells us Barrow won’t score and Wimbledon will get a second goal. Within two minutes Barrow score to level the game from a corner. Neil Canavan the Barrow captain escapes his marker, rises above everyone at the back post and in what seemed like slow motion heads a corner into the net. Wimbledon suddenly look tired and centre half Will Nightingale spends several minutes on the touchline having his head bandaged. It is the loss of his central defensive partner Jenkins that leads to the Wombles downfall. He receives lengthy treatment off the field while the game continues. The away team are unable to clear the ball and a goalmouth scramble lasting more than 15 seconds results in Josh Gordon putting Barrow in the lead. Wimbledon’s lack of options from the bench are clear as the Bluebirds easily see out the last 20 minutes.

Wimbledon launch a free kick into the box as they look for an equalising goal

Review of the day

Two goals from set-pieces and a couple of goalmouth scrambles one of which resulted in a goal. Not much excitement in between with Wimbledon looking dangerous in the first half and Barrow taking over the game once they scored. Loved the vibrancy of the Wimbledon fans and the away end was OK despite a few annoying pillars. Despite the gloom running around Coniston was loads of fun and proved to be just the right distance for Adrian. Overall a memorable day. We were even in the crowd shot in the AFC Wimbledon match report.

Entry fee £16 adults £13 under 21’s

Programme £3 full colour 36 pages

Attendance 3,794 including 186 Wimbledon fans (or 183 Wimbledon fans, 2 Mackems and a Mag as Jacob put it)

Run fun 7/10

Parking availability 9/10

Match entertainment 4/10

Barrow Club website

Run on Strava

Adrian, Mark and Jacob at halftime with the Wimbledon flag

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One thought on “Run and Football 2 Barrow 25th March 2023”

WordPress Cookie Notice by Real Cookie Banner