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Mentioned Part 61

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 14/03/2004

Home > Features > Mentioned > Mentioned #61


"No disrespect to the likes of Grimsby..."

sunday 14th march

Portugal via Grimsby

From The Guardian

Russia, it appears, have still not learnt the lesson of Saturday night in Moscow.

In chasing Uefa yesterday to try to get Ryan Giggs banned from tomorrow's return leg, the Russians were once again occupying themselves with an individual. But Wales are a team and one man who demonstrates that more than any other was playing behind Giggs at left-back at the Lokomotiv Stadium.

Darren Barnard, understandably, is not a footballer they discuss much on the streets of Moscow -Barnard isn't discussed that much around Blundell Park either, though he plays for Grimsby Town. But after his combative, competent performance on Saturday, the Russian hierarchy should at least have acknowledged that Wales are more than Giggs.

Barnard is symbolic of Welsh collectivity under Mark Hughes. When he returns to domestic action at the weekend it will be for Grimsby at Brentford. Danny Gabbidon will be with Cardiff City in Milton Keynes, Jason Koumas and Andy Johnson will be part of the West Bromwich team entertaining Reading.

Yet they all stepped up on Saturday and again justified inclusion. Personal justification was a theme of Barnard's words yesterday. "There's 500 more press here than I'm used to," he said. "Normally, there's just one guy at Grimsby. It's good, a nice change."

He will be 32 on Sunday week - the day after Giggs turns 30 - and has gone from the glitz of being at Chelsea as a youngster and Premiership life with Barnsley, to being out of contract and on the verge of unemployment before Grimsby rescued him last August.

"You have to be confident in your own ability and I've always felt I am good enough to play at a higher level than I do week in and week out," Barnard said. "You have to believe in yourself, and I think Mark Hughes does, because I've played in the last two games. The one thing you think about is not letting yourself or your team-mates down.

"I don't know if I should be somewhere other than Grimsby. At the end of the day I was out of contract. Grimsby came in with an offer and I took it. There were 500 players out of contract that summer and only 200 got jobs, and it was a hard time for everyone."

Born in Germany to parents in the forces - his father Geoff was known as The Assassin when playing for the Combined Services - Barnard played for England schools and joined Chelsea in 1990 in the Bobby Campbell era.

Around 30 appearances over five years, and three Chelsea managers, later Barnard was sold to Bristol City by Glenn Hoddle. By the time Barnard came to declare for Wales, Hoddle was the England manager, and there was a doubt about Barnard's Welsh eligibility. Russia might want to say something about that, too.

Barnard made his Wales debut against Jamaica in 1998 and Saturday was his 20th cap. Yet with Gary Speed recently playing at left-back and Barnard's club troubles, the questions returned to how he maintained his self-belief.

"I left Barnsley at the end of April [2002] and was basically sitting by the phone. It was very tough; I had a wife and two kids, who at the time were a year and six months old. I lived close to the Pennines, so I was out running on my own for anything from half an hour to an hour. It's a long time to reflect on things.

"I signed for Grimsby on August 5, so I had to do a pre-season on my own. Part of me was thinking: 'This shouldn't happen to me, I'm playing international football.' But it does, and there is no money in the lower leagues - I took a 75% pay cut. It's a tough time for everyone, especially if you are out of contract."

As Barnard will be again next summer. "I could, touch wood, be going to the finals and not have a club. That will be interesting."

Spotted by Grim Rob.

Millions may have to move to Grimsby

The Abbey National's survey of dinner party chatter over the past quarter has revealed a huge rise in the amount of time people spend waffling on about property prices. The vast quantity of hot air is expected to power the market upward for at least another six months.

By adding data from ten mortgages in London's Mayfair, and making a few figures up, the report concludes that house prices are going up at the fastest rate since records began.

The head of Abbey National's Obscene Profits Division commented: "If things go on like this, just about no one will be able to afford even an unfurnished shed in a couple of years. Of course it won't happen so it's a bit pointless to say so but at least it gets our name in the papers."

The government hailed the news of the record rise as proof of the strength of Britain's economy. Responding to claims that many ordinary workers can no longer afford to buy or even rent in the capital, a Whitehall toady said: "Look, if they're really poor there are plenty of places in Hull and Grimsby."

Speaking from a "green" perspective, Labour MP Michael Meacher - owner of several modest properties - said: "People may just have to get used to living in smaller spaces which is, after all, more resource-efficient. Or they could move to Hull or Grimsby."

Spotted by Gary Spate.

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