Holker Street

Ground No. 158
Visited - Saturday 2nd August 2008
Result - Barrow 2-1 Accrington Stanley
Competition - Pre-Season Friendly
Attendance - 430

Not normally one for going to friendlies, then I hadn’t really planned any long trips over the summer, but when the possibility of visiting both Holker Street and Craven Park (Barrow Rugby ground) in the same day came up, then I jumped at the chance, particularly given the long journey up to the Furness peninsula from the Midlands (or anywhere really!).

Having booked cheap train tickets, then I had to set out early, leaving Wolverhampton just before 7am, arriving into Barrow at 10:30, but the journey had gone well, and I arrived in a good mood, spending some time in the town before eventually heading off to the ground later in the afternoon.

On initial inspection of pictures you’d be forgiven for thinking that the ground has barely changed since the club were evicted from the Football League in 1972, but other than floodlights, in reality it looks very different (see here). As with many old grounds, you can see it from afar, with the four traditional floodlights standing out on the horizon, painted blue to add a bit of character, and that feel continues once inside, with most surfaces painted in the club’s colours of blue and white. Firstly is the Crossbar End, which is a small open terrace a few rows high, truncated in the middle where the players tunnel stands just to the side of the goal, leading back to the changing rooms and clubhouse that also stand behind this end. To the left is the Main Stand, which is raised from ground level and runs for about half the length of the pitch, centred on the halfway line with a number of pillars restricting views. Built in 1998 it provides the only seats in the ground (about 1000). The far end is the Holker Street End, which is an open terrace, wrapping around the corners to meet the popular side which again is another terrace that runs the length of the pitch back to the Crossbar End. Both these two sides used to have roofs on them, but whilst the Popular Side had its own replaced in the early 90s, fans behind the goal have been left to brave the elements ever since.

After taking a few pictures, I chose to stand at the Crossbar End, chatting to a Spurs-cum-Barrow fan whilst the game got underway. Originally, the opponents were due to be Workington, but they had been forced to drop out at the last minute, so Accrington Stanley stepped in to provide a sterner test for the side still revelling in their promotion from the Blue Square North back to the Premier Division that they had been kicked out of 9 years previously, despite finishing clear of the relegation spots.

With the game underway, Stanley had the better of the opening period, but against the run of play, the home side took the lead in the 16th minute when Jason Walker blasted home the rebound after a free-kick had hit the upright. He made it 2-0 twelve minutes later when he tapped home from a good attacking move. After that, Barrow dominated and rarely looked in trouble.

With the good weather and hot sun, then the second half was played at a more relaxed pace with little action to mention until late on when the visitors managed to get one back. Ian Cranny was the scorer, looping a free kick over the wall and beautifully into the far corner to make the scoreline a little less embarrassing for the side that were supposedly the better of the two.

After leaving, I went on to my second game of the day at nearby Craven Park, to see Barrow Raiders take on Gateshead, before spending the night at a hotel and going home the next day.

Overall, it had been a pretty good trip. The ground is a classic, and certainly suitable for their return to the top level of non-league, although you feel that they may need to look at doing more work should the club progress back into the Football League. Apparently they are investigating options to move, which would be a shame, especially as there seems to be a lot of space available behind the Crossbar End and Popular Side, but in the meantime, then a visit here is well recommended.

Holker Street

Welcome to Barrow AFC

Rear of the Crossbar End

Rear of the Main Stand

Rear of the Holker Street End

Rear of the Popular Side

Up to the Terraces

The Holker Street End

The Main Stand

The Popular Side

The Crossbar End

Ready for Kick Off

The Popular Side

The Main Stand

Holker Street Panoramic


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