“We are right in the mix at the moment and the whole town seems to have a buzz”
The match preview series continues, as Ben Ashworth answers our call to discuss his team Barrow AFC:
Hi Ben before we talk about your team, tell us a bit about yourself and your support for the Bluebirds?
I grew up in Rochdale and had a season ticket at Man Utd in my teenage years. When I was at college studying Catering & Hospitality, I had work experience in a kitchen in the Lake District in Bowness-on-Windermere and they offered me a job when I finished college. I accepted this job and this is how I ended up in Cumbria at the age of 19 in 1994. I still tried to get to see United as often as I could and even saw them play Milan in the San Siro in the 04/05 Champions League. I also managed to be in the away end at Blackburn’s Ewood Park when United got the 19th championship. Due to my career becoming busier and as I climbed the ladder I couldn’t get to the football much anymore. About 8 years ago I realised I could get to Barrow AFC in my split shift and get back to work in Bowness for 6pm. It didn’t take long for me to be hooked and I have now had a season ticket with my 11 year-old daughter for the last 5 years. Plainmoor will be our furthest away game we have been to but we can’t wait.
Summarise your season for us so far?
Before the season started I think most Barrow fans were very optimistic about the season ahead, and although we saw ourselves near the bottom of the table, it really didn’t reflect our performances on the pitch with games, where we were 2-0 up and looking comfortable before ending in draws. But leaving the ground after the games that we hadn’t won, I was still feeling that performances had deserved more and that we still looked like things would turn round sooner rather than later, which they did. The feel good factor was back at Holker Street.
What have been the highlights?
As far as highlights go I thought beating Solihull Moors 3-0 at home in mid-September was a great result and we kicked on from there. Beating Bromley away at the beginning of October was also a great result during a good run of form and we were now getting the results we had been looking for. Obviously the tragedy that saw the Dover game postponed wasn’t good and our hearts go out to the family that lost a loved one, but that weekend saw the three teams above us all lose.
How’s Barrow’s recent form been heading into the game at Plainmoor?
Heading to Torquay United on Saturday, Barrow’s form has been excellent. With a run of 7 straight league wins. It was a disappointment going out of the FA Cup to Solihull on Saturday and missing out on some decent money with a cup run. However it was a game we could have been 3-0 up at half-time, so I’m still feeling confident about the progress of the team.
Which key players should we look out for and why?
I think our two key players have to be John Rooney (younger brother of Wayne) and Scott Quigley. Rooney has already scored 8 from midfield and Scott has already scored 11 and is the league’s top scorer.
Who’s the gaffer and how does he like to set the team up?
The gaffer is the best manager I have seen at Barrow in my time supporting the team. Ian Evatt is an ex-professional footballer who started out as a central midfielder and ended up as a centre back playing in the Premier League with Blackpool. He has been setting up with 4 at the back and 4 in midfield. Jason Taylor as a holding midfielder, giving Rooney a more advanced position and allowing Josh Kay to push on as well.
Who is the owner of Barrow AFC and what are their plans for the future of the club?
It was good to see a consortium of local business men take over Barrow AFC last year from Paul Casson. Paul Hornby wanted to give a stake of the club back to the supporters, and now the Bluebirds Trust has a share in the club. He wants the club to keep going and be self-sustainable.
What’s your away support like and will many make the long trip down to Torquay?
Our away support is really good with plenty of fans travelling to away games. Not sure how many will make the journey to Plainmoor on Saturday though. The coaches are leaving at 5:30am. I’m travelling down on the Friday and having a couple of nights away with the family.
You are right in contention at the moment, do you fancy your chances for promotion?
We are right in the mix at the moment and the whole town seems to have a buzz, with a great young manager and a team playing some really attractive football. I don’t want to jinx our chances, but I am confident that if we can carry on the way we are going we will be there or thereabouts and in with a shout at the end of the season. Fingers crossed.
Which opposition teams/players have impressed you most?
I think Torquay’s very own Jamie Reid has had a great season so far and is banging in the goals so we will have to watch out for him on Saturday. It will be good to see Jordan Williams back at Holker Street with AFC Fylde on Boxing Day, as he was a good player during his time at Barrow.
And finally, give us a match prediction for Saturday?
I think Saturday will be another tough away fixture for Barrow and our last win at Plainmoor came in 1968! I am optimistic though, so I am going for a 1-2 Barrow win.