Barton Rovers

Sharpenhoe Road, Barton Le-Clay MK45 4LQ

From Club website:

Barton Rovers have their home in Barton-le-Clay, a village of some 5000 people just north of Luton. Formed in 1898 the club played in inter village football for the first 50 years until 1946 when they reformed and joined the Luton & District League.

Progress was such that in 1954 they were accepted into the South Midlands League. They enjoyed only limited success until 1964 when former Leicester City and Luton Town defender Barry Reed joined the club as manager. After winning promotion to the Premier Division in 1964 65 the club was never out of the top three until leaving the league in 1979, winning the title eight seasons out of nine and making a clean sweep in their final season the Premier Division title, the Senior Section Challenge Trophy, the Reserve Division title and the Reserve Section Challenge Trophy the only time this has been achieved to date. In 1976 the club entered the FA Vase for the first time and went to the quarterfinals before losing to Farnborough Town. The following year it was one step better with a Semi final appearance against Sheffield. 1978 saw the pinnacle reached with a crowd of 16,391 watching the Final at Wembley where Barton Rovers lost 1 2 to Blue Star of Newcastle.

In 1979 The Rovers gained election to the then isthmian league. In their first season they finished a credible 8th. In 1980 81 this was improved to fourth and the same position was repeated in 1981 82, when the club also enjoyed another good Vase run reaching the Rainworth MW 1 2 on aggregate. At the end of the 1982 83 season Barry Reed retired having achieved the clubs highest position of 3rd. He had also fulfilled his greatest wish to see Barton Rovers play in the First Round proper of the FA Cup, which was achieved in 1980 when the Rovers lost 0 2 to Torquay United at Plainmoor.

The club had to settle for mid table obscurity as three managers guided the Rovers through a transitional period in the mid 80s. In season 1990 91, Rovers qualified for the new Division Two, for Manager Mick Huckle that was his final game in charge after five years, as he retired to step up to General Manager. After an unspectacular 1991/192 season with firstly Ray Brandon and then Tony Dumigan in charge a new man was appointed in May 1992 he was Brian Williams who had been one of the most successful non league managers in the area. Unfortunately his success was limited to cup competitions with the Rovers having their best FA Vase run for seven years, eventually failing to, Wembley finalists Tiverton Town from the Great Mills Western League in The 4th Round. The semi final of the Bedfordshire Premier Cup was also reached but the most notable success came in the Isthmian Associate Members Trophy where the Rovers reached the final of an Isthmian League competition for the first time in their history. Despite a 3 1 extra time defeat against Northwood it was an achievement that lit up the reins, retaining Gordon Brown as his coach. Together these two steered the Rovers clear of the relegation threat that had hung over the club all season, securing their Division Two status in the penultimate league match with a 2 2 draw at Withal Town.

May 1993 saw the appointment of Gordon Taylor. His first season at Sharpenhoe Road saw him guide the Rovers to 4th spot, the clubs highest position since 1983, behind runaway leaders and big spenders Newbury Town, Chertsey Town and Aldershot Town. This platform was built upon in season 1994-95, and Gordon Taylor successfully steered the Rovers into Runners up position behind Champions Thame United. But to leave it there would hide the real success story of the season. It was realised at Christmas that the Clubs financial position was precarious to say the least, and drastic action was needed, initially to cut costs. With the team riding high in the table, and the very realistic chance of promotion, if not the Championship, lying ahead the decision to cut the playing budget to nil was not an easy one, but a necessary evil to ensure the Clubs survival.

This body blow has destroyed many a club before but the loyalty shown by the manager Gordon Taylor, and the bulk of the playing squad, cannot be disputed. Their response had to be seen to be believed. Playing the best football of the season they subsequently swept to nine straight victories, eight in the league that put Barton back on top of the table, scoring 30 goals and conceding just 4. Only one victory in March allowed the chasing pack to make up ground, but a return to form in April culminated in promotion being gained in the penultimate match. No praise can be too high for the achievement of the management and players, who after all the adversity, took Barton Rovers into the First Division of the Isthmian League for the first time ever, after 16 seasons of membership of the League.

The elevation also saw the Rovers join the top 176-non league clubs in the country in the FA Trophy. With subsequent cuts being made to the clubs running costs, and increase in revenue from sponsorship, the club was once again heading in the right direction. Bartons first season in Division One was not an easy one as the club struggled on to finds its feet in the higher division, but lessons were learnt from the early setbacks, and by December the tide was turned and the Rovers hoisted themselves clear of the danger zone. Barton also reached the finals of both county cups, where they met Bedford Town twice. Bedford took the honours in the Senior Cup, winning 1-0. Barton then won the Premier Cup 1-0 on aggregate. Tony McNally scoring the only goal 11 minutes from the end of the second leg at Sharpenhoe Road. Season 1996 97 saw Barton top the Division One table twice in September. However a run of seven matches without a win saw Manager Gordon Taylor tender his resignation in October 1996 after three and a quarter years in charge, despite the club still being in a healthy position in the top half of the table. Former Manager Mick Huckle took over the reins with former Coach Ben Harrison on a temporary basis while interviews took place. As a result of these the Club selected Gordon Brown as their new Manager. The transitional period that followed saw a run of 13 games without a win until a vital 2.1 success at fellow strugglers Canvey Island in February 1997. With the "duck “broken and a settled side now back in place, results improved and the Rovers pulled themselves away from the danger zone. On the penultimate Saturday of the season with a 3 - 1 home win over doomed Tooting & Mitcham United, and a win at Molesey on the last day to be absolutely sure. As in the previous season, Barton lifted some silverware. This time it was the in the form of the Anglia TV 5 a side Championship. Manager Gordon Brown hoped his second season would see his team improve within their new found level. This was achieved in season 1997 98 with a new record finish of 16th. The Rovers also had their best run in the FA Cup for 17 years, reaching the 3rd Qualifying Round with wins over Hassocks, Clapton and Windsor & Eton before Braintee Town ended the growing dreams of another 1st Round Proper appearance. Barton also reached the final of the Bedfordshire Senior Cup for the 11th time, and Manager Gordon Brown departed to coach in the US for a year with the cup secured thanks to a 4 0 victory over Potton United.

The Club appointed Gordons successor in April 1998, on his own recommendation, in former Arsenal and Luton Town player lan Allinson, who was manager at United Counties League club Stotfold. Another record season was recorded, with 15th a new positional high. To cap a memorable season Barton reached three cup finals. The Bedfordshire Senior Cup was retained with a 3 - 0 win over Bedford Town, in a final played at Bedford Town FC and the South Midlands Floodlight Cup was won for the first time, with a 1 - 0 win over Hemel Hempstead Town, again on the opponents ground. Barton missed out on a cup treble, losing the Hinchingbrooke Cup Final, which they had reached in their first season, by 2 - 1 to Spalding United.

1999-2000 saw an excellent start by the club with Rovers in third spot on Christmas day. However, two defeats over the festive period by local rivals Bedford Town and bottom club Chertsey Town brought Ian Allinsons shock resignation to join Harlow Town. Ian Donnelly was promoted from assistant to take over the reins, and the club consolidated to record its highest ever league finish with a final place of 12th. In addition to this Barton Rovers reached the semi-final of the League Cup losing over two legs to Farnborough Town.

With the club suffering a poor start to the next season Ian Donnelly was replaced by Noel Blackwell, who had been assistant Manager at Stevenage Borough. Noel was also a former Barton Player from the 1980s but his reign was brief lasting just 17 days in September. Bartons third manager in as many months was Alan Biley, the former Everton, Derby county and Cambridge player. Alan was appointed in October 2000 but resigned to take over Diss Town 4 months later. Dick Newman took over, steadied the ship, but had the job of rebuilding the Rovers following their relegation back to Division Two

With no relegation taking place due to the forthcoming league restructuring, the club took the opportunity to bring forward some of the younger players from its youth academy to give them invaluable first team experience. Although the average age of the side was probably the youngest in the division, the team managed to finish in 14th place in the table. This young team also reached the final of the Bedfordshire Senior Cup and won the Hinchingbrooke Cup for the first time with a 2-0 victory over Yaxley. Immediately after this final match of the season, Dick Newman informed the club of his decision to resign to take up a post with Potton United.

However this shock news was tempered by the fact that former manager, Ian Allinson, had left Harlow and agreed to return to Sharpenhoe Road for a second spell in charge, continuing the progress of the young players which had begun the previous season.

Season 2002/03 saw another period of consolidation with several young players making the grade, Notably striker Drew Roberts, who coming through from the youth side set the league “alight” with some great goals before moving on to Bedford Town. Ian continued to mould a side on a tight budget with yet more youth players to come through, hopes were high for this season. In January Ian decided to try his luck elsewhere and so he left to join Boreham wood on good terms after 18 months with us in his second spell. The club moved fast in finding a replacement and by the following Saturday it had appointed former players Gordon Guile and Graham Golds from Harpenden Town as joint player/managers. The club started the new season in the Southern league following the restructure full of confidence as the rebuilding continued. Unfortunately in early October Gordon found that work commitments meant that he could no longer give his full commitment to the club as manager, and he stepped down. The club moved quickly again and moved coach and former manager Gordon Taylor up into the management “hot seat”. They also appointed long-term player and club captain Tony Mcnally as player coach, and they continued to keep the club together and moving in the right direction.

After a season that saw the team consolidate it’s position in the league, and the departure of top goal scorer Paul Barnes to A.F.C. Wimbledon for a club record fee the season ended with a second Hinchingbrooke Cup win and the final retirement of stalwart Tony Mcnally. The club then regretfully accepted the resignation of manger Gordon Taylor. With a view to the future the club have appointed youth team manager Kevin Thoburn as General manager and the vastly experienced Neil Rodney as coach and the job of rebuilding the team goes on with the team looking very impressive in the pre-season period.

The period after Kevin Thorburn’s departure has somewhat been a transition of turning old way’s into new. Manager Gary Fitzgerald took charge of his first full season in charge during the 2007/8 Season, Gary was the youngest manager to ever take charge of the Rovers team. The 2007/8 season was a season looked at many by trying to acheieve stability after the previous regime. The season ended in the Rovers finishing in a comfortable position in the league, safe from any relegation battle. The following season Gary Fitzgerald was still at the helm, his passion and knowledge of the non-league game guided Barton to safety once again. For a team that has such a small population, playing football in the Southern Legaue is somewhat of an acheivement in itself, Gary Fitzgerald was building a young and vibrant squad by the end 2008/9 Season. Fomer Luton Town player Ross Hanley had a superb season, winning the player of the season award. Fitzgerald believed in youth and the performances by Hanley were second to none.

The 2009/10 Season witnessed Gary Fitzgerald’s third season in charge of the club. This season was to be a struggle, however there were many highlights along the way. In the league the club battled with relegation throughout the season, and had to await news on a reprieve which gladly came in the summer of 2010. Barton Rovers played some fantatsic football throughout the season and the lads battled till the end. Even in such a tough season there were some outstanding individuals, Centre-back Paul Andrews developed into a no-nonsense defender and Tommy Hull a combatitive midfielder had a fine regime. The club enjoyed a great run in The FA Trophy, beating Ryman Premier side Horsham on the way and taking fellow Ryman Premier side to a replay.

The start of the 2010/11 season sees Barton Rovers in the Southern Football League, this time in the newly created Central Division. Gary Fitzgerald departed the club after four seasons in charge due to an unconvincing start to the season and was replaced with Dan Kennoy. Dan was recruited from neighbours Arlesey Town where he held a coaching position with their first team. At 30 years of age the former Rovers player, managed to assemble a vibrant squad that ended the season in a solid 12th position in the Southern League Central division. One of the plum results in his first season was the 2-1 away win at promoted Hitchin Town. The 2010/11 season also saw the introduction of a Reserve Team, some 15 years after Barton Rovers Reserves kicked their last ball. Darren Whiley was charged with the responsibilty of filtering players through to the 1st team and competing in the Suburban Football League. A solid 13th placed finish in the first season justifed the decision to reintroduce a reserve team to the senior setup. Richard Wilmot was awarded the Players Player of the Year award, Sam Spencer was awarded Player of the Year and Andre Maltay picked up the Supporters Player of the Year.

The 2011/12 season saw Dan Kennoy retain a majority of the squad so the season started with an air of optimism. Its fair to say that it didnt quite go as planned. Just four points from the opening nine games and an FA Cup defeat to lowly Hatfield Town and the young manager was started to fill the pressure. Then just one defeat in the next nine league games saw the confidence rise as well as the Rovers league position. Some convincing results continued notably the 5-1 away win at Chertsey Town and a 4-0 home win against Chalfont St Peter and the play off places were starting to look achievable. The final quarter of the season unfortunately ended the same as the season started and with only 13 points from the last 30 available the season ended with a league position of 11th place which meant a top half of the table finish, something that hasnt happened since 2005. Ricky Case and Tommy Hull cleaned up with the first team awards, Ricky taking the Players Player award and Top Goalscorer with 14 goals.Tommy took home the Player of the Year and Supporters Player of the Year. Niran Vaughan was awarded the Young Player of the Year trophy. The Reserves finished the season in a remarkable 3rd place. Danny Charles was awarded the Reserve Team Players Player of the year and Kevin Ashby recieved the Reserve Team Player of the Year.


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