Football: Barnet delight at Fry's return: Owen Slot sees a popular manager back on his patch

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The Independent Online
BARNET supporters spent much of last week wondering how their sacked but much-loved manager Barry Fry would get to watch yesterday's game, in which Rochdale were despatched at home 2-0. Banned from Underhill Stadium, the odds favoured him occupying a front-row seat in the front bedroom of a house overlooking the ground.

He made his entrance, however, through the players' tunnel. Reinstated as manager on Friday, Fry came on to the pitch to a rapturous ovation. Barnet fans had heard of the reinstatement, but recent events have been so bizarre they simply were not sure if they could believe reports that he was back after his fourth sacking.

If there was delight and surprise over Fry's presence, no one was surprised by the absence of Stan Flashman, the chairman-cum-pantomime villain. He has been to only two home games this season and is still reviled by the supporters, whom he recently declared 'don't matter'.

A petition was circulating yesterday demanding that the Football Association force Flashman to sell the club, and on the terraces there were scores of copies of the 'Ban Fat Stan' campaign being waged by the Sun.

'The Barry Fry thing is only part of it, really,' Liz Ashfield, secretary of the Barnet FC supporters' association, said. 'There's the alleged financial irregularities, supposed bills unpaid, scuffling with photographers. Flashman's turned the club into a bit of a joke.'

That was certainly Fry's opinion, which he voiced after Barnet's FA Cup defeat by Bournemouth two weeks ago, and which was instrumental in his sacking. Yesterday he stuck to his guns: 'I fear for the future of Barnet,' he said. 'So in the circumstances I feel it would be best if he stepped down and sold his controlling interest.'

The sale of the club was one item on the agenda of Friday's kiss-and- make-up meeting between the two at Flashman's house. No agreement was made regarding the sale to any of the bidding consortiums. The only agreement was to Fry's return, Flashman putting his turnaround down to Fry being the only man for the job.

And Fry is obviously doing the job well - yesterday's victory put Barnet on top of the Third Division. The first goal arrived two minutes before half-time - a long run by Duncan Horton finished off by Paul Showler - the second two minutes before full-time when Mark Carter tapped in.

Fry was full of 'top, top, top of the league' afterwards, commenting: 'There's a chance, if we're top of the league, and I keep out of his way, that I'll last till Wednesday.'

Barnet: G Phillips; R Huxford, G Cooper (N Evans, 82 min), M Bodley, D Barnett, D Horton, D Payne, M Carter (H Hayrettin, 90 min), B Stein, K Lowe, P Showler. Manager: B Fry.

Rochdale: K Rose; A Thackeray, A Howard (S Mulrain, 65 min), S Reid, A Reeves, A Jones, J Ryan, M Payne, A Flounders, S Whitehall, J Bowden. Sub not used C Parker. Manager: D Sutton.

Referee: V Callow (Solihull).

Goals: Showler (1-0, 43 min), Carter (2-0, 88 min).