Football: Good times return to Barrow

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The Independent Online
Halifax Town, the leaders of the GM Vauxhall Conference until they suffered their first league defeat of the season at Cheltenham last weekend, are not the only former Football League club in good form this campaign.

Barrow lost their League place in 1972 and were last in the Conference in 1992. After being replaced in the Fourth Division by Hereford it took them 12 years to taste success of any kind. They won the Northern Premier (now UniBond) League in 1984 and again in 1989. The following year the FA Trophy was lifted at Wembley, but since then the Cumbrian club have under-achieved.

Now, though, happy days are back at Holker Street. Barrow have an eight- point lead at the top of the UniBond Premier Division, which they will extend into double figures if they win tomorrow at second-placed Boston United in non-League football's match of the day.

The top six attendances of the Premier Division season have all been at Holker Street. Barrow have kept nine clean sheets in 17 games while Neil Morton is among the league's leading scorers with 10 goals. Also, thanks partly to the money invested in the club by chairman Stephen Vaughan, a Liverpool businessman, key men have remained loyal to Barrow.

Dave Higgins, for many years a stalwart in the Tranmere Rovers defence until his release in the summer, rejected an opportunity to return to the League with Chester.

Of equal significance was the decision of Barrow's manager, Owen Brown, the former Carlisle and Tranmere striker, to turn down an offer to take charge at Stafford Rangers. "I would have been better off financially going to Stafford," Brown said, "but I wanted to finish the job off at Barrow."

- Rupert Metcalf