Barnsley FC kicked off the new season, and their return to the Championship, with a strong 1-0 win against Fulham at Oakwell. Despite Fulham being hotly tipped to be in contention for promotion this season, the Reds were able to begin the campaign in style, setting up tomorrow’s local derby at against Sheffield Wednesday. I’m sure there will be a good following of Barnsley fans making the short trip to Hillsborough to cheer on the Reds!
The upcoming 2019/20 season gives Barnsley a golden opportunity to build on last year’s success. It was great to see the team performing so well, playing entertaining football and securing automatic promotion to the Championship from League One in April; not least in the fact that Daniel Stendel’s team built ‘Fortress Oakwell’ by going unbeaten at home at all season – the first time this has happened for the club in over 50 years.
Of course, the success on the pitch has contributed to the great work that is also going on behind the scenes. Promotion nearly always leads to more ticket sales, higher numbers of travelling fans to every home game and an invigorated sense of confidence around the town that increases Barnsley’s attraction as a place to visit and for businesses to invest in. It’s great to see that Dane Murphy has taken the reins as our new Chief Executive and I know that he will continue the fantastic work done by Paul Conway and Gauthier Ganaye in promoting the Reds both on and off the pitch.
None of this success and growth would be possible without the continuing support and dedication of loyal fans. Season tickets for this year are selling well, and I hope that we will continue to see good and vocal crowds at Oakwell cheering on the Reds. It is testament to the loyalty and commitment of Barnsley’s fan base that nearly 15,000 were at the Fulham game last Saturday. I’ve got every confidence that this is good sign of things to come this season!
Alongside the success of the men’s team, Barnsley Women’s FC also have exciting and ambitious plans under the leadership of their Chief Executive Steve Maddock. Steve has the vision of eventually securing promotion to the Women’s Championship and is exploring the possibility of BWFC having their own facility to further develop the team’s individual identity.
This growth in popularity in women’s football is unquestionably driven by our Lionesses’ success in reaching the final of this summer’s World Cup. Although they ultimately couldn’t overcome the USA, the performances of Steph Houghton, Ellen White and, of course, Lucy Bronze, will have hopefully inspired the next generation of girls to get interested in football and take up the game.
It is that ability to inspire the next generation, of girls and boys, that is football’s greatest achievement. We’ve got a proud history here in Barnsley of nurturing players who go on to play at the very top of their game – Mark Jones and Tommy Taylor; Mick McCarthy and Gerry Taggart; and, more recently, John Stones and Bethany England – long may that tradition continue!
This article was originally published on 9 August 2019 in the Barnsley Chronicle