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Club News

In Focus: Barrow's League Cup History

2 September 2020

Club News

In Focus: Barrow's League Cup History

2 September 2020

A look at our past in the long-running competition.

Ahead of our return to the League Cup this weekend at Derby County, Phil Yelland has been taking a look back down the years at our previous involvement in the long-running competition…


The League Cup or, Carabao Cup as it is now known, started life in the 1960/61 season. Unlike now, not all clubs in the English League set-up entered but that has, of course, now changed. It’s a competition in which we have probably had more lows than highs over the years.


Our first outing in the competition came on 10th October 1960 when we travelled to play Coventry City at Highfield Road. The Sky Blues were then in Division Three (League One) and two seasons earlier (1958-59), when Division Four had been created, they had done the double over us on their way to promotion.


Our trip ended in disappointment – a 4-2 defeat. Our first goal in the competition was scored by Jackie Robertson whilst the other goal on the night came from George Fleming in front of a crowd of 6,643.


This brought our first home tie in the competition and a visit from Portsmouth of Division Two (now the Championship). The visitors were not the force they once had been and we went into the game without a win in four games. The outcome was arguably no surprise as the visitors won 2-0 in front of a crowd of 3,630.


This brought our first run in the competition and a clash with top flight opposition.


The First Round saw a local derby with Workington visiting Holker Street and a five-goal thriller followed. The Reds finished one place behind us in the League that season and the game ebbed and flowed as we won 3-2 with goals from George Darwin, Keith Eddy – later of Watford, Sheffield United and New York Cosmos – and Stan Howard. The game was watched by 3,428 fans.


The Second Round brought us another home tie – this time against Shrewsbury Town of Division Three (League One). We produced an “upset” as we beat the Shropshire side 3-1 – Gordon Brown converted two penalties with Ben Clark adding a third goal to clinch victory in front of 4,003 fans.


The Third Round brought a third home tie – this time against top flight opposition in the form of Birmingham City whose side included two internationalists in Dave Hellawell and Bertie Auld – the latter was to be part of the Celtic squad that lifted the European Cup less than five years later.


It was an even game and with just over twenty minutes remaining Barrow took the lead when Dixie Hale and debutant Terry Wright combined and Stan Howard slipped the ball beyond Colin Withers. Barrow had dominated and a shock was on the cards but City were level within two minutes through Trevor Wolstenholme and that was how it finished in front of 6,289 fans.


The replay two weeks later was a very different game as City’s class told as they ran out 5-1 winners – the Barrow consolation goal came from Johnny Kemp in front of 11,765 fans


This time the adventure ended at the first hurdle with a 2-1 defeat in Round One to old rivals Southport at Haig Avenue with a consolation goal from Tommy Thompson watched by 3,469 fans.


Barrow travelled up the coast in the First Round this season to play Workington, then in Division Three at Borough Park. The Reds had won the promotion the previous season along with Carlisle United.


Barrow had failed to win any of their first three League games and in the third of those regular keeper Lane Millard had been injured. That meant a First Team debut for local teenager Lionel Duffin and it was to be a debut he would not forget as the rampant Reds scored nine times with Don Watson scoring the Barrow consolation goal. No blame was attached to Duffin who was to enjoy a run in the team that season and went on to play for the Club until 1968 and then again in the Northern Premier League. The game was watched by 5,946 fans.


After a two season gap, Barrow were back at home in the competition with a home game against Division Four rivals Rochdale. A crowd of 4,814 watched the tie finish as a 1-1 draw with Bobby Knox on target for Barrow.


The replay a week later at Spotland saw the home side win 3-1 – Spike Rawlinson got the Barrow consolation goal in front of just 2,090 fans.


The Club was again drawn at home in the First Round against Oldham Athletic of Division Three and the side that was at the end of that season to win promotion produced a mini shock by winning 2-1. The opening goal went to summer signing Don McCalman from Bradford Park Avenue. It was his only goal for the Club in a career ended early by injury. Jim Mulholland netted the winner in front of 4,304 fans.


That set up a game against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in Round Two. Rovers had been relegated the previous season from the top flight and it meant an early return to east Lancashire for Fred Else who had joined Barrow from Rovers in the summer. It was not a happy return in front of just 4,655 fans as Rovers won 4-1 with the Barrow goal coming in the form of an own goal by Dick Mulvaney – younger brother of striker Jim who was to join Barrow the following season from Hartlepool United..


Barrow gained revenge later in the season by beating Rovers in the semi-finals of the Lancashire Senior Cup at Holker Street.


With Colin Appleton now in charge and the Club in Division Three (League One), a First Round tie saw a home clash with only rivals Southport who had also been promoted at the end of the previous season. A Jim Mulholland goal in front of 6,841 fans was enough to bring victory.


That set up a Second Round tie at home to ambitious Crystal Palace – they were in Division Two (the Championship) – and included in attack Johnny Byrne who had one cap for England. It was to be great night for the majority of the 7,908 fans as Jim Mulholland struck again to give Barrow victory on a night where the defence and goalkeeper Fred Else were in great form.


The Third Round saw at trip to Hillsborough to play top flight Sheffield Wednesday. Barrow fell behind and then had an equaliser disallowed for offside before Wednesday moved two in front before half time. In the second half Billy McAdams reduced the leeway and as we pushed to try and get level, Wednesday grabbed a third goal to wrap up a win. The game was watched by 21,829 fans – the biggest crowd to date to watch the club in this competition.


Again, after a good run the previous season, there was hope of something similar especially after drawing away to Division Three rivals Southport in front of 3,821 fans thanks to goals by two summer newcomers – George McLean and Howard Riley.


The replay was a huge disappointment as in front of 6,044 fans, the Sandgrounders ran out   3-1 winners with the consolation goal from Jim Mulholland.


For the third time since the competition’s inception, the Club was drawn against Cumbrian rivals Workington in Round One with the boot firmly on the other foot with the Reds in Division Four and Barrow in the higher Division. The first game at Borough Park ended 0-0 in front of 3,969 fans. The replay at Holker Street ended in a 3-1 Barrow victory watched by 4,883 fans. The goals came from summer signings Barry McArthur, Eddie Garbett from the penalty spot and Dave Storf.


The win set up a Second Round tie at home to Nottingham Forest – then in Division Two (the Championship). A crowd of 8,919 – the highest for a League Cup tie at Holker Street – watched the drama unfold. In the first half the sides exchanged goals – Dave Storf for us and John Barnwell for the visitors. The Forest winner in the deep into second half injury from winger Ian Storey-Moore but there was controversy when Barrow were reduced to ten men after Jim Mulvaney was sent off following a clash with Bobby Chapman in the eighteenth minute when it seemed the Forest midfielder had been the aggressor. Chapman was also dismissed. Mulvaney was suspended for six weeks as a result.


It was another meeting with Cumbrian rivals Workington in Round One at Borough Park but as equals with both sides in Division Four. A crowd of 3,987 saw the Reds run out as comfortable 2-0 winners.


A home tie in our final season in the Football League saw a visit form Preston North End – then in Division Three (League One). It was an even contest but we carried little goal threat and they ran out 2-0 winners in front of  4,319 fans – the biggest attendance at Holker Street that season.

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