We kick-off our series of articles looking at next season's League One opposition by focusing on Barnsley.Barnsley will be playing in the third tier of English football for the first time in eight years, after a long stay in the Championship. They were promoted via the play-offs, in 2006, after beating Swansea City on penalties, under the guidance of Andy Ritchie.
Nicknamed The Tykes or The Reds, the Oakwell club suffered relegation back to League One last May, in a season which saw them host the Iron in the League Cup, where we lost on penalties.
The South Yorkshire club were founded 127 years ago and they have since gone on to spend more time in England’s second division than any other club and the league’s official betting partner, SkyBet, have them as joint-fourth favourites to make an instant return.
The Tykes have also spent time in the top division, having had a solitary campaign in the 1997-98 Premier League season, where they finished 19th. Five years later they were close to folding, only to be saved by the town’s Mayor.
Oakwell has been their home since inception, having been redeveloped along the way, and it holds around 23,000 at full capacity. It is situated around 44 miles away from Glanford Park and their relegation adds to a plethora of northern teams in League One, providing the Reds with South Yorkshire derbies with Sheffield United and Doncaster Rovers.
The manager: Danny Wilson
The club will start the 2014/15 season under the guidance of Danny Wilson, a man with managerial experience stretching over the last 20 years. He is in his second spell with the club, having overseen their last stint in the Premier League, managing them from 1994 to 1998.
His playing career saw international experiences with Northern Ireland, as well as over 600 professional appearances, including a stint with the Iron. It was a short loan spell in 1983 which saw just six appearances for the Claret and Blue.
He also played for Wigan, Bury, Chesterfield, Nottingham Forest, Brighton, Luton, Sheffield Wednesday and The Tykes. In that time, a career spanning 19 years, the only silverware he lifted was the League Cup- twice, with Luton and Wednesday.
After finishing his career at Oakwell, he took on the manager’s role before moving to his old club Wednesday, Bristol City, MK Dons, Hartlepool, Swindon and most recently, Sheffield United, before joining the Reds to replace David Flitcroft.
That totals over 950 games as a manager, nearly 400 wins and two promotions. He won the FL Trophy with Bristol City and the LMA Manager of the Year award in 1997 after guiding The Tykes to promotion to the Premier League.
Key Player: Chris O’Grady
The Tykes will have a few key players next year, but the pick of the bunch is the supporters’ Player of the Year Chris O’Grady. The 28 year old forward tried in vain to score the goals to keep the Oakwell club in the SkyBet Championship, as he found the net on 15 occasions.
He initially joined the club on loan from Sheffield Wednesday before signing for around £300,000 last summer.
In the 2012/13 season, he scored against Barnsley for the Owls before finishing the season in fine form with the Reds, scoring six and earning himself a move across South Yorkshire.
In 43 Championship, FA Cup and League Cup games last season, O’Grady led his club’s scoring, as well as chipping in with assists to help The Tykes win nine and draw on twelve occasions.
Born in Nottingham, he came through the ranks at nearby Leicester City, spending time on loan at Notts County and Rushden & Diamonds before moving onto Rotherham. After 18 months, a transfer to Oldham followed and he was loaned to Bury, Bradford and Stockport in his time at Boundary Park. A loan move to Rochdale secured him a transfer to Spotland and he left after just one season to go to the Hillsborough club. He spent two years with the Owls before a Barnsley move ensued and he could well be the man to fire them back to the Championship after making himself a firm favourite with the fans.
As well as O’Grady, the Tykes have a variety of key players, including the ever present goalkeeper Luke Steele, who’s in his sixth year with the club, former Bayern Munich starlet Dale Jennings and Chelsea’s former academy product Jacob Mellis. Providing they keep these players, expect them to star in a successful season as The Tykes will look to secure promotion at the first time of asking.
After avoiding the drop on the last day of the previous season, Barnsley could do little to save their misery in April as a 3-1 loss at Middlesborough secured their fate.
David Flitcroft departed after a bad run of form in the first few months of the campaign and the incoming Danny Wilson could do little to steer the club away from the drop, following his return to the Oakwell managerial hotseat.
The end of March and start of April saw the Tykes go three unbeaten, with one draw and two wins giving the South Yorkshire side’s fans faint hope of beating the drop, but losing six of their last seven league matches summed up their season.
Losing Craig Davies and the previous season’s loan stalwart John Stones proved to be a bitter blow and only Yeovil accumulated less points than Barnsley as they finished 23rd.