Mission Impossible – Saving Barnsley: Part 1

Andrew Chapman brings us a new series for the next few Thursdays. Trying to keep Barnsley in the Premier League is one of the toughest tasks in the game – doing it with their original squad must be nigh on impossible. Right? Here’s part one for your reading pleasure.

Welcome to a new adventure where I’ll try and achieve the unachievable, keeping a terrible Barnsley side in the Premier League. In real life Danny Wilson’s Barnsley spent almost the entire season in the bottom 3, conceding a 2nd worst ever 82 goals in a season (until 07/08 when Derby picked that place up), that’s over 2 per game on average, and their top scorer was on 10 goals from midfield. Barnsley’s squad in the database is so large it never loads the same, so I’ve shuffled some players out who left in the season (Davis, Beckett, Shirtliff) and had to sign 5 more (Ten Heuvel, Leese, Gregory, Perry and Rose).

[Oakwell, Barnsley, 1997]

Barnsley have some obvious flaws, as can be deduced from real-life; some terrible defenders and strikers who left their shooting boots…well, never found them! On a plus we have Fjortoft the full season. But to stick to reality, we’ll try and do this without any signings. Here’s the squad;


We arrange some relatively local warm-ups to get the squad match ready and experiment in a safe environment.


The ‘keepers are decent ratings wise and at the back Adi Moses is a potential wonderkid in the database with a -1, however, the more he plays, the more that big club release clause is at risk of coming back to haunt us. Redfearn should provide a solid base for the team and Fjortoft and Ten-Heuvel should be able to muster at least 10-15 goals each. Other than that, the squad is certainly more chaff and less wheat. We’re reet up against it.


12,000 of t’ Barnsley folk watched that absolute drivel…we are in for a long old season. Ten-Heuvel a stand out player, burying both the chances he was given.


The way pre-season has gone, I might have to bring back those motivational pre-match farting contests from the coaching manual of Danny Wilson…

The opening day arrives at Oakwell, the fans are in fine voice, somehow, we’ve joined the big time. Man Utd are the opponents. Tony Bullock has a blinder in the sticks, and we go in only 0-1 down at half-time. The pressure soon tells, and a Sheringham master-class later we’re 19th.


It was going so well but then Upton funked us up…


Tinkler is still out with a broken wrist, but John “the joker” Hendrie is back from his bruised ribs…either way our obvious flaws in defence are a nightmare. Rock bottom.


The star man has us off the mark with a hattrick and we’re on our way. Exceptional performances all-round the park.

Reality Check: At this stage, the real Barnsley had scored two, conceded 8, but still had 3 points on the board (and had also been beaten at Upton Park)


It all comes together at the Palace as the man from Leek Town in the sticks plays a blinder and the strikers have their day in the sun.


Madar takes a dive and the lino gives it…a quick-fire double sinks us as Ten-Heuvel and Fjortoft miss some golden opportunities. The man from Leek Town takes the MoM award again.


With Ten-Heuvel on U21 duty, and Liddell stretchered off after 34 minutes, Ashley Ward comes on and makes the assist for both goals, he will keep his place.

The wolves are already circling for Moses as we try to keep him in our basket…meanwhile, Chelsea are just too good despite Bullock putting his buttock on the line for us. Ward has a stinker.


A feisty Yorkshire derby at Oakwell, and, after taking the lead, we soon make it too hard for ourselves. Although, the score line only reflects the number of chances we threw away…



BATTLE OF THE NORWEGIANS: We finally managed a draw. Initially thought we’d won when Ten-Heuvel had the ball in the net but the man from VAR he say no.

A royal relegation rumble at Oakwell; battle of roses, the bang below averages. WE ARE PREMIER LEAGUE SAY WE ARE PREMIER LEAGUE. We turn in an accomplished performance, Bolton don’t get a sniff. A fantastic end to September.


Reality Check: At this stage, the real Barnsley had won two and lost 8, and were rock bottom in 20th place having scored 7 and conceded 23. As similarities go, there were wins over Bolton and Palace.


Our reality is much more comforting (so far).

A 5-2 aggregate win in the Coca-Cola Cup see’s us into the third round with a home tie against Sheffield Utd. I thought about giving Hristov a game, but he’s got about as much chance as scoring a goal as he does getting a girlfriend in Barnsley…

Somebody sang that it only takes one match, but in this case it only took Wanchope, as Derby put us to the sword.


Mind you, I’m not having as hard a time as some, eh Glen…


We muster a point against a villain’s side containing Zetterberg and Novotny and the board deem it a very good result.


The boy “don” good. Selhurst Park is an enjoyable place to go this season!

Oh my. We make it to the end of October in style. We were battered by the storm but the man from Leek Town got another MoM.


I could do without the added pressure on my massive squad full of awful players but…we scrape through.


Reality Check: by the end of October the real Barnsley had won 3, drawn 1, and lost 10 sitting rock-bottom having scored 11 and conceded 40 having also crashed out the Coca-Cola Cup in the 3rd Round to Southampton

We are every much fighting for our survival in 9th place mostly thanks to Fjortoft’s 14 goals.


See you next time out when we’ll see if we can make it through the Christmas party period without any shenanigans, if Hristov can “score”, and whether the motivational pre-match farting lasts a little bit longer.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter @KingOfTheRooks

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