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AWAY DAYS



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The decision to move the Northampton game to a Friday night was not all popular, however it did open up a world of half day possibilities if you enjoy making a day of the football. Well why not, we thought! It was to be a day in London, and they always seem to add up to a quality away trip, especially as there would be precious few opportunities to do so with League Two's Northern imbalance.

So it already had potential, but with a superb start to the season and the way the results and fixtures fell, the prospect of topping League Two with the right result was mouth-watering. Even if it was likely to only be for a matter of eighteen hours or so, you don't go top of any League that often, hence it would be another match anticipated with great excitement and wonder.

It was questioned on Tuesday night following a fourth consecutive win and clean sheet, when was the last season where we had got into September and not felt sick of football already? Great point, very well made. This season is actually enjoyable so far, so why not carry it on by topping the League? Why not?!

Six of us met in The Globe in Moorgate, a familiar watering hole on London meets, and the downfall of some peoples' pre-football health (i.e. me) Having successfully steered clear of the tempting, tasty yet cruel mistress Old Rosie (7.3% Cloudy Scrumpy), we moved on and met a few more in another regular meeting place, The Lord Raglan. Proceedings were very well underway at this stage and we soon had to consider the prospect of going to the football.

We'd be taking the train just as people poured out of the city, so it was bound to be packed. Let's throw in a group of about fifteen football supporters, most of whom have been in the pub for a few hours. Brilliant! This wouldn't be the music train of Torquay a fortnight past, just a little bit of a sing song probably. There were more Bees fans dotted around the train, adding to what should be a decent turnout at Sixfields later on.

If the detail of this away day so far appears a little fuzzy, there is good reason for this let's be honest. Lovely day in London and actual excitement (again) ahead of the football. Could we really go top tonight? Are we going to have one of THOSE seasons? The prospect is wonderful.

We arrived into Northampton at about seven, and a quick cab ride allowed us to sneak in one last drink before the game in The Sixfields Pub. The group had become split for one reason or another but we all ended up in the ground together for kick off. It seemed like a half decent turnout for where I was and the atmosphere started well behind the goal.

The game began pretty slowly and we seemed to have Northampton under control. The main threat up front was clear in the form of big lump Ade Akinfenwa, but he was kept pretty quiet by the defensive line. What wasn't quiet was the away end. A lot of young lads had made the journey up, and their voices along with ours and plenty of others added to a cracking bit of noise with a vast array of songs. Indeed, Cobblers' fans were to be very complimentary towards us by the end of the night.

With little goalmouth action of note, we were denied a stonewall penalty when Jake Hyde was bought down. I mean, despite a day on the sauce coupled with flailing eyesight as the nighttime darkness set in and the incident being at the other end of the ground, I thought it was a cert. Such is the bias of your average football supporter, but come along!

Out of nowhere though, Northampton took the lead. It was a horrible, yet a typically football-y type way to lose a clean sheet record as Scott Marshall's low shot deflected up over a defender's football and into the net past an already committed Jake Cole. Oh well that ruins the top of the league thing a bit. Thanks very much. Being behind was harsh as neither side had done enough to warrant a deserving lead, but there it was at half time.

The mood was still positive and the voices still soaring in the second half and we won a free kick in a decent position. Pre-whistle conversation attemped to answer when we last scored directly from a free-kick. No-one got the answer, but we soon remembered it was Adomah at Torquay about two weeks ago. How could we forget that one? Anyhow, I digress. Ahmed Deen stepped up, curled it past a flimsy wall and into the net. Everyone goes mental, superb stack around us as we go level and the noise increases further.

It's a bouyant Barnet mood on and off the pitch now as a sense of expectation wills the team on. We actually believed we could do it and having ridden a few iffy moments in the box at the far end, a lovely delivery from Albert Jarrett was turned in fantastically by Paul Furlong. What a finish. It looped over the keeper and seemed to take an absolute age to do so, but it hit the net and our section of the away end has absolutely erupted. People are falling over themselves in joy, jumping over seats, whole rows of seats, in a fit of madness. It was another blurry moment where everything becomes surreal for that short amount of time. I'd barely caught my breath as the chants of "WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE!!!" belted out from the throats of those around me. In fact, I couldn't catch my breath. I tried to sing it, but just couldn't manage. Lack of fitness I say.

By the time I had got some air into my lungs and quickly run through the back catalogue of Top Of The League related chants from our promotion winning season, a defensive header caused the Cobblers 'keeper to shit himself, back off and allow John O'Flynn to slot home from a tight angle. And it's all gone crazy again! Repeated scenes all around as Barnet fans and players were in a state of pure euphoria. I ended up sitting down on the floor, I'd fallen over, before quickly regaining my feet and jumping around just a little more. Wow. Incredible scenes and an amazing feeling. It's been missed, but they all seem to be coming along at once.

As reality set back in, our good site contributing friend  Max Bygraves is there swinging his shirt round his head so for good measure I followed suit. If you've met us both, you'll know the contrast there. But why not? It was just the best feeling. You just do stupid things in that state and we were all letting everyone in the ground know just how much fun we were having. Top of the league, having a laugh!

The last twenty minutes were a massive party. Song after song after song were being repeated ad nauseam by 529 giddy Barnet fans. Moments like these do not come around often, and even though we all knew that this would probably not last long past the following afternoon, it was a moment to savour. It was during this party that I discovered a sizeable cut down my shin. War wounds! Superb! I wasn't the only one with similar injuries gained from the seats in front and behind, but it all adds to it if you ask me. Adrenaline was flowing, that's for sure.

The final whistle sounded to further glee amongst the travelling support. The Football League Show cameras were present to record the feelings of many, and were featured nicely during the highlights show. My views were not shown however, though I expressed how Tuesday night defeats at the likes of Grimsby and Chester were worth it for moments like these. I stand by that, nothing beats this!

Suddenly we had to consider how we were getting back to the train station. Others had managed to grab lifts, six of us were to stay on the train. It was decided on a long, noisy walk back along with the aforementioned youngsters who were lapping it all up as well. Upon arrival back to the station, where many other Bees fans had already congregated, the discovery that the train bound for Euston was met with much disappoinment.

I was drained at this point, physically and emotionally. The wait we had resigned to was not going to ruin this evening. After a lot of milling about, not really knowing what to do, the question had to be asked to massed ranks of taxis outside. How much to take six of us back to Barnet?

The answer of £100 was music to the ears. What a bargain! Less than £20 apiece was well worth it to save waiting around train stations, getting the last trains home and not making it back until well into the early hours. It was an unbelievable situation to add to the craziness of the evening. We were getting a TAXI from NORTHAMPTON to BARNET at 11PM! We were home before midnight. Job done.

We went our separate ways in Barnet, some went home but three of us strolled into the local pub for one last celebratory drink. I was dead on my feet so a Red Bull kept me awake. We left at 1am, and this day was over. What a day.

Of course, by 5pm on Saturday we were off the top, but it still had no detrimental effect on the evening. It was one of the best games I can remember. This feeling of euphoria is so unexpected yet so welcome. Long may it continue.

And a final word for some of the online Northampton fans who have been highly gracious in defeat and very complimentary about our team, club and supporters. It makes a nice change having heard all sorts of bile in the past from fans of bigger clubs who believed they had some sort of divine right to beat Barnet. That's you, Notts County. Again though, fair play to the Cobblers supporters.



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