Date: 3rd June 2013 at 8:11am
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Despite using the words ‘all time’ its worth noting that my love for the tykes began 16 years ago, which is the time frame I will be selecting players from for the purpose of this exercise. It all began for me on new years day 1994, Wolverhampton Wanderers at Oakwell, the moment as a 10 year old boy that I turned my back on a glittering career as a Man UTD fan. I would now be telling you about champions league nights, trophies, Fergie and Ronaldo. Instead its a story of heartache, relegation, defying odds, Danny Wilson and Redfearn.

For the record we lost 1-3, but I was hooked.

Let’s start in goal. It didn’t take long for me to think of the man to take the gloves in my all time XI. Dave Watson not only made over 200 appearances for Barnsley, but he began his career with his home town club, and was a regular figure in the side that gained promotion to the premier league in 96/97. Hampered with injuries, Watson’s playing career never really recovered after being relegated in 1998. Seeing him now standing next to Roy Hodgson on England duty will however give every ‘red’ a sence of pride.

In true Mike Bassett style my all stars will be playing 4-4-f’ing 2! At right back is Nicky Eaden (pretty simple so far), club captain in the Gary Neville mold of right backs. Simple, solid and another South Yorkshireman with no less than 281 league appearances for the reds. My centre back options took a little more thought, first up is another involved in securing Barnsley’s first and only experience of premier league life. Arjan De Zeeuw was purchased for a whopping 250k back in 1995, he made over 150 appearances during the most successful period in my time as a red.

Slightly more controversial is Arjan’s centre half partner, this man is no longer a fans favourite in the Pontefract end after first leaving Oakwell in 2003 to make the journey to Brammall Lane. If this wasn’t enough, he then took centre stage as the stereotypical pantomime villain by hospitalising fans favourite Ian Hume years later after a shocking challenge during a Championship fixture at Oakwell. Despite this, Chris Morgan does make my team, he was a leader on the field and had a presence that could not be taught, a breed of leader we have not seen since.

Since this is a fantasy task, I am using artistic licence with my left back choice. Darren Barnard by trade is a midfielder, but I am making room for him in the back 4. Exquisite, the only word that comes to mind to describe a left foot feared by many. Dead ball delivery second to none, and that volley during the 7-1 demolition of Huddersfield lives vividly in the memory.

A special mention goes to Adie Moses who narrowly missed out, despite the first thought that comes to mind being a bullet header at Elland Road (albeit at the wrong end) which still preceeds a wry smile.

The midfield area provides some interesting dilemmas, first up is my captain, 292 club appearances wielding 72 goals. A scorer of great goals and an iconic figure, Neil Redfearn. I realise my Barnsley all stars have little or no balance in the midfield area, but hey this is a fantasy team not Football Manager. Alongside Redfearn in the heart of my midfield is Craig Hignett, without the backing of hundreds of club appearances like Redfearn, Watson, and Eaden, Hignett still comes to mind as one of the leading cult figures of recent Barnsley history. Scoring 35 goals over two seasons at Oakwell Hignett very nearly led Barnsley back to the promise land only to fall at the last hurdle, a 4-2 loss to Ipswich in the Division 1 play off final of 2000.

My wingers are the most recent of this squad to wear the red shirt. First up is Brian Howard, another of this squad who have worn the captains armband at Oakwell, and another who had left Oakwell in order to progress their career at perceived ‘bigger clubs’. Another goal scoring midfielder, Howard played for the reds over four seasons and arguably experienced more success than any other in this list. Howard won promotion after a play off success over Swansea at the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, and was also awarded Barnsley’s player of the year in 2007. Most remarkably Howard led Barnsley to their first appearance at ‘New Wembley’ in 2008 following stunning victories against Liverpool at Anfield (Howard scoring the winning goal in injury time) followed by Chelsea being dumped out of the FA cup at Oakwell.

On the opposite flank, a man who began his career on loan at Oakwell before a permanent move the following season. He won’t go down in the history books or Barnsley folklore, but Adam Hammill is one of my favourite Barnsley players. A unique talent who has endured a tough time since leaving the reds. Hammill, almost single handedly, kept the reds in the second tier of English football. Another scorer of great goals and individual brilliance.

At the top of the field, the business end, is a thought provoking finish to this, my all time Barnsley FC XI. The strikers are those players who win games, because of that we, the fans, hold a special place for them in our hearts. Because this is MY favourite BFC side I have decided to ignore the number of goals scored in my decision making for these final places, instead I wanted to pick two strikers whom I hold the strongest affinity for. Many cult heroes spring to mind, Georgi Hristov, Clint Marcelle, Daniel Nardiello, Istvan Ferencji. There were top strikers and many goals through Ashley Ward, Neil Shipperley, and Jan Aage Fjortoft. But in truth their could only really be two choices for me.

‘Super’ John Hendrie is my first call. Hendrie spent three years at Oakwell in the twilight of a successful career, he endured a promotion, relegation, and then took the hot seat following Danny Wilson’s departure from the club. Hendrie returned 17 goals in 65 reds appearance, not prolific, but the memory of singing his name in the stands is the main reason for his selection in this side.

Super Johnny’s partner in crime is a man who joined the club following relegation in 2008 and spent a further five years in South Yorkshire scoring 57 times for the reds. Bruce, Bruce, Bruce Dyer is another cult figure who simply sticks in my head and triggers happy times as a Barnsley fan (they do exist). Dyer was an uncomplicated striker who played a big part in taking Barnsley to a play off final in 2000 under Dave Bassett, scoring three times during a 5-2 aggregate victory over Birmingham during that play off series.

That is my all time Barnsley FC XI, some engraved in every Barnsley fans memories, others that I have taken particular enjoyment from watching, one who is now a hate figure! What a selection!