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You Little Genius
Mark Byrne! By: Eric Hitchmo 08/08/2011
Morecambe
Barnet
0 1
League 06/08/2011
2011-2012 Attendance: 1874 (210)
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"Well this is an awfully strange sensation. Not since a brace from Giuliano Grazioli and one from Richard Graham overturned a 1-0 half time deficit to Forest Green Rovers in 2004 have we tasted an opening day victory. And how sweet a feeling it is. A tough, hard-earned three points was a fine reward for a solid performance which was settled by a goal that would have been fit to grace any opening day ground.

Morecambe was an ideal place to kick off the season as many Barnet fans found themselves staying overnight and sampling the delights of the local area. Unfortunately Morecambe is a town that has seen itself slide into a state of disrepair with many houses and buildings boarded up and left to rot. Photographs adorned the walls of our guest house depicting Morecambe in a far more vibrant light, albeit around a century ago. Nonetheless, it has become a staple away trip for many of us and we can all reel off many a great story about this particular corner of the North West coastline. This weekend would be no different as we set off at stupid o'clock on Saturday morning. Well, football's back isn't it?

After a swift run up the M1 and M6, we arrived at around 11am. Our bags swiftly dropped off, we moved onto the first pub we could find, called The Ranch. We were soon joined by some familiar faces who looked surprisingly fresh considering the tales of the night previous. The beers continued to flow very nicely as AFC Wimbledon took on Bristol Rovers in the early game. We soon moved onto the ground, a new one for many of us who couldn't find the will to travel up last season after our dreadful start to the season. It must have been a particularly terrible experience last year as we conspired to throw away a two goal lead late on. Enough of last season though, it was time for fresh hope, belief and optimism. It's always the same.

After a quick drink in Morecambe's downstairs bar we headed into the ground, which is a neat, practical affair. A blueprint for us, perhaps, aside from the shallow, uncovered terrace which is highly reminiscent if not identical to the old ground. Regardless, it is a decent stadium, which replaces Christie Park which is now a Sainsbury's. Driving past it on the way, you'd have never known a football ground once stood there. Quite the shame. A healthy turnout of Barnet fans were placed in the corner of the rather steep Main Stand.

The game was a pretty tight affair from start to finish, with clear cut chances at a premium. Discussion had centred around what looked to be quite a weak back four with the absence of Dan Leach and Darren Dennehy, but all in all we held pretty firm. Morecambe had openings but they'll have been disappointed that they didn't force debutant 'keeper Dean Brill into a serious save. At the other end, Jason Price was providing a nuisance and Mark Marshall looked lively, however like Morecambe we didn't create a host of goalscoring opportunities.

Izale McLeod may have done better with a chance in the second half where his shot into the ground bounced onto the top of the crossbar from little more than ten yards out. Clovis Kamdjo slid to make an outstanding block to stop a shot from close range after Morecambe capitalised on a foul on Mark Marshall which was not given.

It looked for all intensive purposes that the game was going to peter out into a 0-0 draw, which would most likely have been the fairest outcome, but it was to all be turned by a moment of brilliance from little Mark Byrne. He took the ball down in midfield, ""handball!"" shouted the crowd, inconclusive said the video. With the ball under control he lashed home a belter from all of thirty yards leaving home 'keeper Barry Roche flailing hopelessly through the air. Wow! Cue bodies flooding down the stairs of the aforementioned steep raked stand. Dangerous, but you just don't think about these things when goals happen. An unbelievable strike sparking wild celebrations, magic!

We remained solid for the fifteen minutes that were to follow. We survived a penalty shout as the home crowd pleaded for a handball against Anwar Uddin. Not given! Sub Charlie Taylor might have had a second had he connected with a low cross but it was to be academic in the end as the three points were ours. The players were straight over and the applause was reciprocated for an excellent effort.

Post match we were able to visit Morecambe's upstairs bar which was a bit of a surprise and a bonus. We were even allowed out onto the balcony with our drinks to overlook the pitch. It shows what sort of club Morecambe always were and remain to be. Everyone was able to mix and even Mark Byrne was mobbed by a happy group as he came upstairs to be interviewed for radio. He just looked really shy, the lad! Fucking brilliant goal though!

In a buoyant mood, we headed back to our rooms and got ourselves ready for a night on the tiles. In the past, we have always found neighbouring Lancaster to be most entertaining for an evening so we joined in with some of the Morecambe lads in various bars and eventually clubs. Things became very hazy as the night wore on. I can barely remember the names of the places we went to, or how many we went to. I do know we ended in a club called Toast, a familiar haunt from previous years, where we celebrated until the early hours. A long day it was, but all worth it for that little stroke of genius. The journey home on Sunday morning was a tad ropey to say the least!

With a serious amount of alcohol put away and plenty of money spent, you'd have thought we may want to calm things down, however as I write, we are preparing to do it all again on Tuesday at Portsmouth. It was always going to be a heavy start!"




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