‘Our Club, Our Ground, Our Past, Our Future’ Project
Reds in the Community, a registered charity delivering community and charitable activities on behalf of Barnsley Football Club, celebrated the club’s 130th anniversary throughout 2017 by involving supporters, local organisations and the wider community in exploring the story of Barnsley FC and its home ground, Oakwell.
With support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust the ‘Our Club, Our Ground, Our Past, Our Future’ heritage project saw volunteers getting involved in a range of tasks from interviewing players, staff and supporters, past and present, to undertaking research and (digitally) collecting Barnsley FC photographs, documents and stories.
Barnsley-based video production company, Deadline Digital, worked with Reds in the Community to create a number of short films in which players, managers and supporters, past and present, spoke about their memories of the club:
Reds in the Community has also been working as a creative partner with the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust on the ‘Sharing Memories of Barnsley FC’ aspect to the project, through which reminiscence activities have taken place within NHS and other settings, enabling participants to explore and share their Barnsley FC related memories.
As a Creative Minds partner, Reds in the Community is part of a strong, growing infrastructure of community organisations who are working with the local NHS to provide creative projects for people who use Trust services.
Manchester-based design company, The Office of Craig, was appointed by Reds in the Community to work on the design and production of heritage displays for Oakwell, a lasting legacy of the ‘Our Club, Our Ground, Our Past, Our Future’ project.
The Office of Craig’s Creative Director and Founder, Craig Oldham, who hails from Barnsley (and is a huge Barnsley FC supporter), said of The Office of Craig’s involvement in the project:
“The community and club we come from, and love, is a massive part of us—a fundamental part—and we’re excited by the opportunity to represent this spirit through collaborating with Reds in the Community (and the wider stakeholders) on the ‘Our Club, Our Ground, Our Past, Our Future’ project.”
The Our Club, Our Ground, Our Past, Our Future’ Project Advisory Group, which includes Barnsley FC’s Club Historian, David Wood, along with members of the Barnsley FC Supporters Trust and other interested supporters, has involved volunteers in working with Reds in the Community and the Office of Craig to shape the new heritage displays.
New educational resources focusing on the history of the Football Club have also been developed by Brian Heywood of Sports Inspire Educational Publishing through the ‘Our Club, Our Ground, Our Past, Our Future’ initiative.
Commenting on the opening of the heritage displays, Wayne Bullimore, Chief Executive of Reds in the Community, said: “We are so excited to be launching our heritage displays. This project has been in the making for 18 months and has been driven forward and shaped by a group of talented and committed local individuals.
“At the very heart of all football clubs is the supporters and this project has put them, quite rightly, at centre stage with valuable contributions from our Barnsley FC legends providing a sprinkling of stardust.
“As with everything that happens under the banner of Reds in the Community, it is the people at the forefront of our work that deserve all the credit. My particular thanks go to the Volunteers and Project Advisory Group, the Project Coordinator Sarah Hughes and designer Craig Oldham. They are all local people and supporters who kick every ball on Saturdays too! I hope that throughout the coming weeks the spotlight shines very brightly on all of their talents and contributions. They should all feel very proud.”
Explaining the significance of NHS support for the project, Dave Watson, project development worker with Creative Minds, said: “Barnsley Football Club is much loved by many people in the borough and the Oakwell stadium is an important part of the community. At Creative Minds we’re proud to fund and support these projects which bring local people together through a shared interest and creativity. The display looks amazing and is a fitting tribute to Barnsley FC’s fascinating history.”
Project volunteers, contributors, partners and supporters gathered to officially open the displays at Oakwell in January 2019. Barnsley Football Club and Reds in the Community will be inviting supporters and the wider community to come along to see the new ‘Our Club, Our Ground, Our Past, Our Future’ displays at the club’s annual open day in the summer. Please check the Barnsley FC and Reds in the Community websites for further details.
For further information, please contact Sarah Hughes, Heritage Officer at Reds in the Community on 01226 211333 or via email at [email protected].
All the team actually came to our school at Royston, Gordon Owen's era, and did a training session on the school pitch and then gave a lot of tickets away and we all came, parents and school kids, and I think I'd have been about six or seven, something like that, and then I think...from around '84-'85 was when I started coming regular, and probably '87 was when I became a season ticket holder and then never missed, like reserve games or first team games, sitting in the West Stand as it was then where we couldn't see every part of the pitch because of the posts!
Fans sometimes used to watch at the gate and I remember this Barnsley guy came up to me and he says, ‘Are you laikin Dyer?’ And I was thinking ‘What does that mean?’ So I said to Nicky [Eaden], I said, ‘Nick, what does that mean?’ He said ‘Are you playing?’ And I was like, ‘I’ve got to get with all this Barnsley talk!’ Barnsley has a special place in my heart...I love Barnsley people, they say it as it is, they’re with you 100%, they’re very loyal people and loyalty’s a big thing to me...I think I’m here for life.
My first match was the opening home fixture of the 1969/70 season, a Division three game against Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic on 10th August 1969. The Reds won 1 – 0. It was my first ever football match, and I well remember my Dad taking me in the car. We parked in what was then the Yorkshire Traction car park next to the Queen’s ground, and walked down to Grove street. It cost 5 shillings (25p) behind the goals, or 6 shillings (30p) on the West stand and Brewery terraces, half price for children. My Dad decided he wanted a seat, which in those days meant going through the West stand terrace turnstiles and then paying another 1 shilling (5p) to go through a further turnstile to transfer to the wing stand. We took our places on the wooden benches (calling them seats was stretching it somewhat) and I was hooked for life.
My first Barnsley match was against Derby County in 1992. My dad told me he was taking me when he got home from work at half 5. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten my tea so fast. My mum made me wrap up warm with gloves and a woolly hat on. We parked behind the Ponty end; I remember the gravel car park crunching under my feet. Then into Oakwell we went; the smell of the grass pitch and the pies and the cigarette smoke. I remember looking at the floodlights and not being able to see anything then for the next 5 minutes because they were so bright. We lost the match 2-1 but that didn’t really matter much to me because it had been so exciting. I couldn’t wait to tell my mates the next day at school.
I’ll never forget the moment on 26th April 1997 when Clint Marcelle scored our second goal against Bradford City and I finally believed that we were going up to the Premiership! I can still remember the look on my dad’s face at that exact moment as we looked at each other in complete amazement at Barnsley FC’s achievement. What a day! I also remember the unique scenes around town that evening when strains of ‘Cheer up Mark McGhee’ could be heard in every pub!
Every match day is special. For a few hours you meet friends with a shared passion and you hope the two hours in the ground in-between the pub visits are also memorable. You cannot beat a midweek, long-haul away-day.
My favourite moment is always going to be the final scenes of the Bradford City match of April 26th 1997. The rivers of emotion that ran around the ground and later into the Town centre following that afternoon was immense, torrential, overwhelming and ultimately overpowering. For the longest time, it was drummed into me that I would never see my Barnsley team play in top flight football (nobody ever had). I freely admit that there were tears in my eyes at the final whistle…Tears for all the loyal Barnsley fans who down the years had followed the club through thick and thin and passed on without seeing First Division football, tears for the forgotten Town of Barnsley ignored and neglected for far too long by all and finally tears of joy and relief that the long wait was finally over.
I can remember on 23rd January 1962 standing in the street at Measborough Dyke [just off Doncaster Road], with the rest of the street, watching the floodlights come on for the very first time at Oakwell. This seemed magical and must in some way have impacted on me following the Reds. I come from a time when all fans followed their home town, good or bad. That has continued to this day.
“It was 1995 and a cold, wintery Tuesday at Oakwell, hosting Tranmere. At 10-year old my sister’s boyfriend siezed the opportunity to instill his beloved Barnsley FC as my team, and took me along. Sat in the lower East Stand, I remember feeling there was something special about football under the floodlights. Sadly, even the bright lights didn’t help me see much of the game. A dense fog had settled over the pitch and the best I could follow at my eye level were the 22 bright-red socks running around the pitch. It took us all a while to even realise we’d scored! But I’ve watched them as intensely since.”