Football: Fry runs back to his soap on a rope: Owen Slot sees Barnet welcome back their beloved manager and beat Rochdale 2-0 to lead the Third Division

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The Independent Online
THE SOAP opera at Barnet looks set to run and run. And it contains a storyline that would be laughed down by anyone commissioning the stuff for television. Give us a little bit of real life, won't you?

To the innocent bystander, Barnet Football Club is an unbelievable but amusing spectacle; for the 3,000 or so who fill Underhill Stadium at home games, the joke wore thin some time ago. For Barry Fry, the manager sacked and reinstated by the chairman, Stan Flashman, so often that he cannot count the times, there remains the hope that football and not office politics will occupy future headlines. And so he said to journalists on Saturday: 'Perhaps next time we meet we'll talk about how well or how badly the team played.'

Fat chance. Flashman still holds the cards and he does not pretend to be about to play them any differently. 'It's not the first time this has happened and it won't be the last,' he said.

Fry, meanwhile, still combines his dogged loyalty to the club with an insistence on speaking his own mind. This meant repeating after the match the opinion - that Flashman should go - which was instrumental in his sacking two weeks ago.

So nothing has really changed, and Barnet remains the same volatile equation, set to explode with the same frequency. Unless, that is, Flashman sells his controlling interest in the club, one of the items which was under discussion in his forgive-and-forget meeting with Fry on Friday.

Fry is content to recall the good that Flashman has done - and that includes saving the club from bankruptcy - but now believes it is time for someone else to take the club a stage further.

Until someone can meet Flashman's valuation, though, Fry can only continue to keep his team on top of its league, and this he does with marvellous enthusiasm. When he set off on his familiar goal-celebrating sprint down the touchline on Saturday - during a recent performance he pulled a hamstring - that enthusiasm was plain for all to see.

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

Barnet: Phillips; Huxford, Cooper (Evans, 82), Bodley, Barnett, Horton, Payne, M Carter (Hayrettin, 90), Stein, Lowe, Showler.

Rochdale: Rose; Thackeray, Howard (Mulrain, 65), Reid, Reeves, Jones, Ryan, Payne, Flounders, Whitehall, Bowden. Substitute not used:

C Parker.

Referee: V Callow (Solihull).