You could be forgiven for not knowing Barnsley had played in the Premier League, however the Tykes from South Yorkshire arrived in the big time for one single season, the 1997/98 campaign. This was a historic time not only for the football club, but also the town itself. Home to a strong mining community, Barnsley was decimated during the 80s pit closures leaving unemployment and poverty at record highs.
During the 90s however the local football club invigorated the town by reaching a level that had historically looked well out of reach. Under the stewardship of manager Danny Wilson and working with a shoestring budget, Barnsley gained automatic promotion from Division One at the end of the 1996/97 season. Their story ultimately ended with relegation straight back down to the second tier, but the team at least took the town on a ride it will never forget.
A Tough Start Left Barnsley With Too Much to Do
It’s fair to say the sheer scale of the occasion got to Barnsley during the early stages of their Premier League debut and this played a significant part in their ultimate inability to escape the drop. Their first 10 games brought eight defeats and just two wins with goals very hard to come by – the attackers were kept off the scoresheet in half of those opening ten fixtures.
In late September came that eighth defeat of the season in a 4-1 mauling at Wimbledon, a bad result which put Barnsley in the relegation zone where they would remain mired in for the rest of the campaign. It made for a gruelling run in for players and fans alike, but between them they still created some fine memories that will live long in the memory of those who witnessed them.
What Were the Highlights?
Despite being stuck in the relegation places for so long, Barnsley did manage some highs during their Premier League season. A first win for the side came in their second fixture with Neil Redfearn netting in a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace. Fast forward to November and The Reds miraculously won 1-0 at Liverpool, one of the biggest shocks of the season.
The FA Cup was also kind to Danny Wilson’s side. First they drew away at Tottenham then beat them at Oakwell in their fourth round replay. Then it was the turn of Manchester United. A 1-1 draw at Old Trafford was followed by a 3-2 replay win at home to earn a place in the quarter finals. That’s where the run ended, but it had given a morale boost to fans and players during a difficult spell in the Premier League.
A Tough Premier League Lesson for Huge Underdogs
Barnsley had never expected to achieve promotion from Division One in the first place, so when they did and spent less than £6 million on new players, expectations were understandably limited. Week in, week out the Tykes went up against formidable opposition as firm underdogs with the bookmakers, and those who chose to bet against them tended to enjoy success.
With the latest betting offers for football available online, those looking to side against big underdogs like Barnsley have the opportunity to collect an offer and do that. These betting offers give players the chance to gain an upper hand early and get their new betting account off to the best possible start. While it was Barnsley’s turn in 1997/98, we have seen a number of other unlikely underdogs reach the Premier League and struggle since.
Even when they are being subjected to beatings every week, this while punters up and down the country are backing against them, just remember that the team and their fans are at least have a unique and memorable adventure to look back on in years to come .