Small Club of the Week is back! After a bit of a hiatus due to the holidays and whatnot, your favorite weekly series is back. As a reminder, we try to find clubs outside of the top tiers of English football that have overcome expectations in one way or another. With the recent conclusion of (most of) the Third Round Proper of the FA Cup, we had a few worthy nominees, and I’ll cover another club (or two) from that round next week.
Nickame(s): The Bees
Founded: 1888 (131 years ago)
Location: Edgeware, London
Team Colors: Amber and Black
Ground: The Hive Stadium
Capacity: 6,500 (5,419 seated)
Current League: National League (Tier 5)
Reason For Notice
Barnet, one of two clubs below League Two to play in the Third Round Proper of the FA Cup (Woking from Tier 6 was the other), made the most of their opportunity, upsetting Championship club Sheffield United – who are currently second in the Championship – 1-0 at Bramall Lane.
During its first 100 years, Barnet went through many mergers with other clubs, but generally stayed in leagues outside the top tiers of english football. After turning semi-pro for the 1965-66 season, the club earned a spot in what is now the National League when it began in 1980. They struggled initially, narrowly avoiding relegation for their first few seasons. They finally had a breakthrough during the 1986-87 season, finishing as the runner-up and just missing out on automatic promotion to what is now known as League Two. They finally made their first appearance in Tier 4 after winning the Football Conference (now National League) title after the 1990-91 season.
Since then, their time has mostly been split between League Two and the National League, albeit they spent one season (in which they finished 24th) in what is now League One after securing the final automatic promotion by finishing third in League Two. Returning to League Two, the club yo-yo’d up and down the standings, before finally finding themselves back down in the National League after a last place finish during the 2000-01 season. After four seasons there, they won yet another league title to gain promotion, only to stay in the bottom half of the standings during their return to League Two.
Though they have spent 12 of the previous 15 seasons in League Two, their highest finish during that time was 12th (in 2007-08), with an average placement of 18th. After again finishing 23rd in League Two last season – they tied with Morecambe with 46 points but went down based on goal differential – they are currently 15th in National League play this season, out of the playoffs by 12 points (though they have played four fewer matches than most of the clubs in the league).
In the FA Cup this season, they defeated league mate Braintree Town to make it to the competition proper, and defeated League One club Bristol Rovers in the First round Proper. The Second Round saw them beat Tier 6 club (and former SCotW) Stockport County, and then the defeat of Sheffield United in the Third Round.
In Round Four Proper of the FA Cup, they will be facing off against Championship club Brentford at the Hive Stadium on 28 January. Should they be able to again beat a higher-tier club, they would learn their next opponent on 28 January.
In their next National League match, they face off against last-place Braintree Town, then will be off from league play until a 2 February match at Eastleigh. Once their run in the FA Cup comes to an end, I’m sure they will begin the work to make up for all the postponed matches that they have missed thus ar this season.
Until next time…