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2000 Cans Of Fosters
Max Bygraves offers his thoughts on the situation upon his first visit to The Hive in three years. By: Max Bygraves 24/08/2021
Notts County H
21/08/2021   (Click date for match details)
League 2021-2022
L  0- 5
Attendance: 2067  (1009 Away)




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For the first time in just over three years, I found myself at The Hive on Saturday. It was a very last minute thing and a pretty low key visit. We arrived at 2:50pm, went straight to our seats, didn’t go to the bar at half time and left just before the fifth Notts County goal (sometime after many others, in fairness!).

This isn’t an article written with the intention of battering the club, manager, chairman, tea bar staff or anyone else; more just the observations of, if you like, a lapsed Barnet fan who could view the occasion with less emotion and more objectivity after such a long absence.

The first 45 minutes on Saturday weren’t bad. As the half went on, it was clear Notts County had a lot more about them and optimism for the second half was certainly waning the nearer to the referee’s whistle for the break. However, the opening stages had seen a few bright bits of play and good intensity. They looked like they wanted it and weren’t afraid to get stuck in. After the horrors of last season, this is probably the initial minimal bar being set by most fans, a bit of desire at least. This certainly faded once the goals went in but in the context of how it went in the second half, I think it would have been a similar story for most teams.

It’s hard to put a positive spin on the second 45. It got bleaker and bleaker and there are many things that could be highlighted for where it went wrong. Notts County exploited the weakness down the Barnet left hand side repeatedly and on another day, they might have ended up with even more than five. But I’m not here to give a tactical analysis. At least we didn’t get a lettering* on the vidiprinter - every cloud.

Whilst I’ve read many fans’ gripes on twitter and the OnlyBarnet forum regarding a whole host of issues (no hot water, no beer, no TVs working, etc.), none of those affected me on the day to have an opinion. The most unfortunate thing reading the comments is the fact that this is very reminiscent of occasions down the years at both Underhill and The Hive.

My last visit to The Hive also clashed with a wedding at the venue on the same day which caused all kinds of issues. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider using it for this during the football season? Hearing about some fans’ experience of trying to avoid getting in the way of wedding guests and presumably vice versa just sounds horribly awkward for everyone. It can’t be a great backdrop for the happy couple and doesn’t add much to the supporter’s matchday experience.

Yesterday’s statement from the club feels all too familiar with lots of fingers being pointed in various directions and perhaps those that can’t defend themselves being put in the firing line. That poor chef. I’m not sure all the details or timeline were really needed although it made for an amusing read. An apology, yes, but this is surely one where actions going forward speak louder than the words that it does feel like fewer and fewer individuals are now listening to.

Saying that, it’s certainly captured the attention of people away from Barnet thanks to social media and being widely shared by some quite high profile twitter accounts such as the brilliant @FootballCliches. Is all publicity good publicity?

Back to the game, strangely, I still quite enjoyed myself on Saturday. Going to live football is something no one has been able to do for a very long time. Nothing beats being there in the flesh and it was nice to watch a game properly rather than sat on the sofa half-watching Sky Sports whilst mindlessly scrolling through social media on my phone.

Would I go back again soon? Quite possibly. Doing the podcast has definitely stirred something in me. I want to support Barnet, I think most ‘lapsed’ fans do, deep down. However, I did look around on Saturday and remember why the last eight years have been so difficult to stir that former passion for myself and many others. However, the main feeling I got was more for those who have stuck with it than anyone that hasn’t - you deserve so much more.

Having the entire home support crammed into two thirds of one stand is an instant atmosphere killer. Something special about lower league grounds are the little sections you get in the different parts of the stadium. You need the Steve Percy end of the East Terrace; there should be a moaner’s corner ala North West Terrace; you must utilise the ‘Bumble Family Zone’ and encourage people to bring their little ones; and you need a place for the exuberant, adolescent fans to spend their pocket money or part time wages jumping around and making noise. It’s a rite of passage for those supporters ‘coming through.’ The current set up denies that.

What about the players, too? You want fans behind the goal almost sucking the ball in. It can’t be the most inspiring playing in a half closed ground. I understand costing and stewarding and so on, but surely creating an atmosphere and experience for all should be right up there with the things you want to spend your money on as a football club?

To only give one pricing category for all fans is unfortunately only going to discourage people from attending. To not allow non-league fans to stand in a ground where there is a terrace, is going to discourage people. For the last-minute supporter or casual fan, if they drive and park at the ground, they’ve got to pay £30 before they’ve so much as sniffed a burger. In the fifth division, that’s very hard to justify. And again, is only going to discourage both old and potentially new fans.

The news that an adult ticket for Solihull Moors away this coming weekend is 50p cheaper than a parking space at The Hive doesn’t help the club very much. I can’t imagine they enjoyed sharing that information online. I don’t think anyone would expect that to be the standard price (it’s a promotion at Solihull, for context) but something someway south of the current figures would seem reasonable. Who else has been laughed at when they tell people the cost of a Barnet ticket?

It’s encouraging to see the BFCSA reforming. It’s absence speaks volumes for the apathy of recent times but fair play to those stepping up and putting the time in. I really hope they are successful in their aims and are able to bridge the gap between the club and the fans. Expectations do need to be realistic, however. They can only do so much and are relying on being met in the middle by an organisation that isn’t famed for doing so.

I can’t commit to putting the time in required to be actively involved with the new BFCSA myself, but Downhill Second Half have spoken with the club previously around doing things although nothing has come to fruition. We’re certainly open to continuing to liaise with the club and in conjunction with the new supporters’ association to offer help with anything that can make it all feel a bit more like Barnet again.

A bit of a depressing note to end on, but from an ‘outsider’ looking in, it really does feel like if something isn’t done to turn the tide at the club from both the powers that be and the actions of the fans soon, there isn’t going to be much left to fight for.

*A lettering or ‘to get lettered’ is when a team concedes 7 or more and suffer the humiliation of this being spelt out in brackets next to the score. See Crewe Alexandra away, ironically also on 21st August in 2010.




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