LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Barnet FC

Bees have a Hive fit for the League but a team…

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Representing London’s second largest borough, one that stretches from all the way to Hertfordshire to Hampstead Heath, Barnet FC are currently housed in Harrow.

The Hive Stadium currently hosts the National League club, but some Bees supporters still reminisce about their former home Underhill in High Barnet. When Barnet were relegated from the Football League in 2013, they also left their ground of 106 years.

The Pecking Order/Peterjon Cresswell

League status was restored in 2015, the long-running dispute with Barnet Borough Council subsided, and the initial outcry by supporters’ movements quietened. Life at The Hive, a new stand opened there in 2016, is now the new normal and The Bees won’t be buzzing off any time soon. Also a given is National League football, Barnet having been relegated once more in 2018, only maintaining fifth-tier status in 2021 on a technicality.

Barnet’s roots lie in the Athenian League. Founding members in 1912, the club had developed from a confusing array of old boys’ and works teams in the Chipping Barnet area. The club’s foundation is given as 1888, when it became Barnet FC after previous incarnations as Woodville, then New Barnet.

This team first played in the North London League, then North Middlesex League, before folding in 1902.

Their Ravenscroft Park ground was duly taken over by Barnet Avenue, who then called themselves Barnet FC in 1904. Nearby, a works team for Alston, Europe’s largest manufacturer of dental equipment, was gaining traction, moving to Underhill in 1907.

Underhill/Jens Raitanen

The club that joined the newly formed Athenian League was a merger of the two. Barnet & Alston FC adopted the amber-and-black of the works team and based themselves at Underhill.

Comprised of high-ranking amateur clubs – Kingstonian, Bromley, Leyton, all winners of the FA Amateur Cup – the Athenian League was considered the strongest in Greater London until being overshadowed by the Isthmian League.

Winning seven Athenian titles, Barnet were also a feeder club for Tottenham Hotspur, fielding a number of later international players. The best, of them, Lester Finch, stayed at Underhill, and managed the club after the war.

Hive Stadium/Jens Raitanen

In the mid-1960s, the club turned semi-pro, spurred on by a sterling effort in the FA Cup against then recent finalists Preston, a late 3-2 defeat in front of a five-figure crowd at Underhill.

Joining the Southern League, making the FA Trophy final of 1971 and drawing 0-0 at QPR in another near Cup upset, Barnet began to attract a series of big-name veterans from London clubs. Manager Barry Fry, who had persuaded George Best to play for him at Dunstable, had Jimmy Greaves knocking in the goals for a season.

Without the regular takings to cover a higher salary bill, Barnet fell into financial hardship, only to be rescued by notorious ticket tout Stan Flashman in 1985. Bringing Fry back into the fold, the rotund fixer pushed Barnet to the top of the non-league pyramid, close to newly introduced promotion to the Football League. In the meantime, Flashman and Fry clashed on numerous occasions, the Bedford-born manager eventually taking Barnet to the Fourth Division in 1991.

The Hive Stadium/Peterjon Cresswell

High-scoring but profligate at the back, Barnet hired a number of ex-England internationals – Ray Clemence, Alan Mullery, Tony Cottee – as managers, but slipped back to the Conference in 2001.

Goals from Giuliano Grazioli got the Bees back into the League, eventually, though Barnet would rarely rise above halfway in the fourth tier during their eight-season-long return. With relegation imminent, assistant coach brought in Lawrie Sanchez of Wimbledon fame to save the day in 2011 thanks to a legendary late penalty from Izale McLeod.

The inevitable came in 2012-13, ironically after the surprise signing of Dutch World Cup star Edgar Davids as player-coach.

Hive Stadium/Jens Raitanen

Behind the scenes, a long-term stand-off with the borough council over the lease at poorly facilitated Underhill came to a head with relegation. Even Arsenal’s reserve side had moved out, ending the traditional, money-spinning pre-season friendly with The Gunners’ first team.

Already Barnet’s training ground, on the other side of the M1 to Underhill, The Hive had been expanded and improved since being converted from playing fields in 2003. Unable to move to Barnet Copthall as it had been offered to Saracens rugby club, the Bees had no other options in their own borough. The 2013-14 season started in a new, unloved ground, out of the Football League.

With Davids soon out of the picture, ex-West Ham midfielder Martin Allen returned to manage Barnet for the fourth time of asking. Successfully leading the Bees out of the Conference in 2015, he kept them away from harm in League Two for the next season and a half, until he headed to Eastleigh in December 2016.

Owner-chairman Anthony Kleanthous, only in his twenties when he bought the club in 1994, and the prime mover behind developments at The Hive, must now seriously worry about what’s happening on the pitch. Relegation to the sixth tier was only prevented by the collapse of Macclesfield and Dover in the truncated National League in 2020-21.

ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

With a new north Stand 66 built in 2016 to accommodate away fans, the 6,400-capacity Hive Stadium should be home to the club for a fair while to come.

Surrounded by all-weather training pitches, The Hive has a busy life outside of Barnet FC. As well as a gym, spa and conference facilities, it’s also home to Barnet Ladies’ club, the London Bees.

Many Barnet fans still often prefer a seat in the main west Legends Stand to a space in the nominal home end, the covered south Bees Terrace. Sectors F and G in the Legends Stand nearest the away end may also be allocated to visiting supporters.

The smallest east Hive Stand houses the Hive Bar for home fans and neutrals.

getting there

Going to the ground – tips and timings

Barnet is a 10min walk from Canons Park Tube on the Jubilee line, a direct 35mins from Waterloo, 25mins from Baker Street. As the train comes into Canons Park, you’ll see the ground on your right – and the Wembley Arch as you exit the Tube station. Head over the road on Whitchurch Lane, veer left away from the parade of shops, then right at the sign for The Hive.

The sat nav code for The Hive is HA8 6AG. There’s a 500-capacity car park on site, £5 charged on match days, £1 on non-match days

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

Tickets are sold from the club shop, online and on the day from the ticket windows. Note that online purchases are print-at-home only – there is no ticket collection facility.

Standard admission is £22 for most areas of the ground, £14 for over-65s and under-21s, under-17s a commendable £5 anywhere.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

The Bees’ slide down the League has also resulted in a fairly minimal range of orange-and-black souvenirs in the club shop, just the standard scarves, hats and keyrings. The club no longer produces match programmes, so even these aren’t for sale. Second-choice top for 2020-21 is the usual white, but with the same design feature as the home shirt, a thick middle stripe comprising interlocking hive symbols.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

Close to Canons Park Tube on Station Parade, Moranos doesn’t look like a pub but, essentially, it is. Guinness here is the drink of choice, not as pricy as you’ll find it in central London, served from a well stocked and well run bar. TV screens show sport and there’s occasional live music at weekends. Alongside are a couple of Turkish restaurants, including Melissa, if you fancy a quality pre-match fill-up. 

Sadly, quality grill eatery The Pecking Order at The Hive didn’t survive the drop in trade from relegation in 2018. Behind the east Hive Stand, the functional Hive Bar Café is for home fans. As it caters to stadium staff, it opens at 7am seven days a week, with full English breakfasts, but the fare is otherwise bog standard. There’s an outlet for away supporters on the north side of the main west Legends Stand. 

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