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How It All Began
A history of football in Barnet... By: Max Bygraves 13/06/2024




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Association football in Barnet can be traced back to the early 1880s. It’s a sketchy picture in terms of exactly who was who and what was what, but 1888 is noted as the year that Woodville FC (1882-85) and then New Barnet FC (1885-88) became Barnet as we know it.

The early iterations of the club played in and around the local area. Sites on Cromer Road and Victoria Road in New Barnet and then Queens Road (now the site of QE boys’ school) in High Barnet were all venues used in the nineteenth century. The club’s changing rooms when playing at Queens Road were in the Black Horse public house, which still remains on Wood Street.

By 1901, a rivalry had emerged with another local side named Barnet Avenue. The early embers of fierce battles of Barnet were, however, promptly extinguished. The 1888 club were dissolved in the first year of the twentieth century due to book-keeping not meeting FA standards.

Despite some early success, Barnet were briefly no more and Avenue capitalised on the chance to take centre stage. However, their adamance to remain an amateur side held them back. Despite their 1904 name change to Barnet FC, the former Avenue recorded little else of note although would resurface in our story a few years later.

In the first few years of the 1900s, another team in the area began to develop and grow. Alston Works FC were formed in 1901, the same year as the original club’s demise.

Formed by Mr Alfred Shilling, General Manager of a dental manufacturing company, the club was initially a works team.

Alston first played, appropriately, on Barnet Lane in their early years. This was not at the site of Underhill but further South, towards Totteridge. It is of course hoped that football will return to Barnet Lane again soon, some 120+ years after the first senior team played there.

Alston Works’ success saw them cease to be a works side and became representatives of the town of Barnet in 1906. Their first year as Barnet Alston FC was notable as they went ‘invincible’ in the second tier of the London League, winning 11 out of their 14 games to be champions.

Success brought pastures new and on the back of their title win, in 1907, Barnet Alston made the move north along Barnet Lane to Underhill.

The first game at Underhill was played between Barnet and Crystal Palace on 14th September 1907. Barnet winning the game 1-0. In July 2007, Crystal Palace came to Underhill for a 100th anniversary friendly match - this time the Eagles soaring to a 2-3 win.

In 1912, Barnet Avenue, now going by the name Barnet FC, came back into the picture and merged with Barnet Alston. This is the first point at which it’s widely historically agreed the new club (initially Barnet & Alston before soon dropping the latter part) became the club it still is today. Yes, the 1888-1912 history is a little confusing.

Barnet Alston had already begun to feature in the FA Cup by the time of the merger. Exeter City’s visit in the 1908/09 season saw internationals play at Underhill as the Bees were comfortably dispatched by more senior opponents.

The outbreak of World War One put things on pause for the new flourishing Underhill based-club. Upon the resumption of football in 1919, no more chopping and changing to name or location would happen for almost a century.

Barnet FC is simply weaved into the fabric of its traditional community. The club grew with the Underhill area and provided a focal point for a growing suburban settlement. Hopefully in the near future, the chance for history to repeat itself will soon be happening again in EN5.

We’d love to hear from anyone with more concrete records and information of those early years of our club. Please get in touch via mailbox@downhillsecondhalf.co.uk or info@bringbarnetback.com with any information.





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All Articles By This Author:

Date 
13/06/2024 How It All Began
13/05/2024 Togetherness
29/04/2024 Outfought, Outthought, Out Of Ideas
10/04/2024 Nearly There
25/03/2024 "A Game Of F*****g Demolition"
20/03/2024 Another Step Closer
09/03/2024 Tepid
06/03/2024 Bring Barnet Back
21/02/2024 Shot Down
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Date 
13/06/2024 How It All Began
07/06/2024 A Barnet Story
13/05/2024 Togetherness
29/04/2024 Outfought, Outthought, Out Of Ideas
21/04/2024 The Best Of The Rest
10/04/2024 Nearly There
25/03/2024 "A Game Of F*****g Demolition"
20/03/2024 Another Step Closer
17/03/2024 Card Bored
09/03/2024 Tepid
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  All materials on this site copyright Downhill Second Half and its individual authors. Content may not be reproduced without prior written permission. Special thanks to Chris Holland for use of photography and John Snow, John Erroll and Tony Hammond for statistical compilation.

A huge thank you also to Rob Cavallini whose Barnet history books set the basis for our journey to complete all statistics back to the start of Barnet FC.

Club crests, player images, and company logos are the property of their respective owners. They are included in this website for reference purposes only./span>