World Youth Old Boys
The esteemed academic journal Regional Studies has grown in reputation over the past few years and its editors and authors have been keen chroniclers of Britain’s policy towards its regions, a major hallmark of the Blairite Third Way. Among the provinces that have seen serious investment, one can count the Championship football hotbed once dubbed The People’s Republic of South Yorkshire, previously the scene of tuppence bus rides and proud striking miners. Sheffield in particular has enjoyed a series of set piece projects including the Millennium Gallery, Winter Gardens and the now defunct National Centre for Popular Music. Hell, even the dystopian bulk of the Park Hill Estate was getting a makeover – until the money ran out that is.
But the focus of such regional regeneration has typically been concentrated almost exclusively in the large cities. The South Yorkshire satellite towns remain largely untouched and few of the grandstanding, big scale statements have been earmarked for these semi-forgotten burgs, which leads me to discussion of two towns fielding sides in our division. In a separate post, I shall offer forth an analysis of Doncaster Rovers, but here we shall deal with Barnsley Football Club.
I made the trip to Oakwell for the first time in a decade last season and enjoyed the experience immensely, but the town is little changed. There may be a few more ring roads and the stadium itself is surprisingly large, but the urban landscape still seems down at heel, with one pound shops aplenty. Of course that is part of the charm of a proper, no nonsense football place, although the residents might prefer a higher average income. That said, the soccer club has had a few experiences to dine out in recent years, including that historic season long stay in the top flight and a Wembley Cup Semi Final the season before last.
We have the Tykes to come bottom of the pile in our new season predictions, which may be harsh – but they key will be holding on to their better players between now and August 31. Jamal Campbell-Ryce was impish last season and can be considered a big success since his arrival from Southend. In addition, their peripatetic playmaker Anderson Silva is the foremost of a clutch of non-nationals who make the Tykes tick; his fellow Latin American Hugo Colace, captain of Argentina’s star studded World Youth Championship line up in 2003 joins the Brazilian in a slick centre park pairing. Worthy long-time South Yorks resident Rob Kozluk will never let anyone down and it’s especially good to see Iain Hume back after his career threatening injury. Hume also competed in that Youth jamboree, for his adopted Canada and will need to start scoring again to give Barnsley a chance of beating the drop.