It’s a very rare thing, but Barnet is a club of beauty. I’m not commenting on the collective attractiveness of their squad, or being facetious about their depressingly grey stadium. Oh no. I’m talking about Grimsby Town’s record against them.
In 12 competitive matches against the Bees, the Mariners have won nine of them and scored 26 goals. For a little while there, the record was even more impressive. Our first meeting was in August 2005 at Underhill. I remember it because I was there. On loan winger Calvin Andrew scored the only goal of a game that was part of our record six-game winning streak on the road.
Town won the reverse fixture 3-0 that season, and went on to do the double over Barnet in the following two seasons, making it six wins out of six. In fact, it wasn’t until that sixth game – a 4-1 win at Blundell Park (which turned out to be Alan Buckley’s last win in his third spell in charge) – that the Bees finally managed to register a goal against us.
The aggregate score at that point stood at 17-1.
Sadly this impressive record took a bit of a dip. Town lost their first match to Barnet 1-0 at Blundell Park the following season – just after the sacking of Buckley when Stuart Watkiss took charge. Malvin Kamara and Tomi Ameobi (don’t snigger) failed to fire us to victory in what remains the most insipid, ball-achingly boring game of football I’ve ever had the misfortune to attend. I remember thinking it kind of made me wish that someone would come along, strap me into my chair and steal my eyes.
The 3-3 draw at Underhill later that season remains the only draw between the two sides. The 3-0 defeat in September 2009 is the last time the Bees got the better of us. We’ve beaten them three times since.
There must be very few clubs (if any) that the Mariners have a better record against. A game against Barnet usually comes in a big multi-coloured bag with the words ‘three points’ diagonally across it, and a large ‘help yourself’ sign with a glowing neon arrow above it.
However, with a big game against Cambridge to come on Saturday, a promise of squad rotation from manager Paul Hurst and a team not quite in sparkling form, I don’t think we can be so cocksure of a victory tonight to extend our excellent run against a club that will still have ambitions of making the play-offs.