For Boro’ fans of a certain vintage, you’d be mad not to remember our meetings with this club. You could even say “barking” mad, right? And there you have it. Just one sentence in and we just couldn’t steer clear of the dog noise puns. Woof, bloody woof. But now it’s done – and it’s out of our system too. So, now we can move on with our lives and have a look at our fortunes when it comes to the Blues from out east… London.
Who are Barking?
Who doesn’t like a bit of intrigue? With the first knockings of the original Barking Football Club, that’s what we have. The official line is that the ancient abbey town and fishing port got its first club in 1880 (Rovers). But it gets a bit muddy after that. The current club says on its website: “One authority states that the Rovers club was the precursor to the present club; the local Church Institute being involved in running it, with the name being changed to Barking Institute.”
After reading the story three or four times, we’re still struggling with it. We can tell you for sure, however, that ‘Institute’ was binned from the name in 1902. Not that the Blues were completely done with add-ons; Town being stuck at the end of the Barking name between 1902 and 1932. By this time, the Blues had graduated to the Athenian League – but only managed to reach the summit during their 1934-5 title-winning campaign.
In 1952, the Blues joined the Isthmian League and can boast (what they claim to be) a bit of competition history. In 1958, their Vicarage Field home had floodlights installed and this enabled the club to become the first in the league’s history to play a game under their own lights. Is this true? Who knows? Do we have reason to not believe it? Not really. So, we’re happy to say “fair play” and leave it at that.
In 1973, however, the Blues were on the move after the local council asked them to leave Vicarage Fields; instead, offering the lease to Mayesbrook Park as a new home for them.
Why do we know Barking?
It didn’t take too long for the Blues to establish themselves in the Isthmian League – even if there were a few dud seasons along the way. But, over time, they could begin to look up in the table instead of down. That said, their 1978-9 title-winning campaign was a little out of step with things. It earned them the accolade of FA Non-League Team of the Year. But not, it seems, a place in the inaugural 1979-80 Alliance Premier League line-up.
The pre-cursor to the Conference had been formed by teams from both the Northern and Southern Leagues – with Isthmian clubs missing out. So, the Blues had nowhere to go…
After that title success, the Blues started to struggle in the Premier Division as the 1980s took shape. But they saw out the decade; a time at which Boro’ were starting to make the slow rise up the Isthmian League ourselves. And, while our league status wouldn’t match theirs until the new decade had dawned, our first encounter came in October 1985. Why? The AC Delco Cup. Duh. Who doesn’t remember that tournament, eh?
What is our record against the Blues?
The 1985-6 season ended with us securing the Division Two North title and promotion to Division One. We were no match, though, for our Premier Division opponents at the time. Chris Myers scored for us at Broadhall Way – but it was nothing more than a consolation to the Blues’ four. We were well and truly schooled on our own turf that evening. But that wouldn’t be the case six years later.
Things had changed by the 1991-2 season. For us, we were now on the surge under the leadership of Cloughie. And we’ve said that before about this campaign too. On the other side of the fence, however, the Blues had just fallen out of the Premier Division; their first relegation (we think) since joining the Isthmian League. That set us up to meet as equals in the sense that we were on the same plain: Division One.
But, in reality, we were moving in different directions.
Boro’ made that known loud and clear too; winning both fixtures that campaign. The first was a 2-0 home victory in November, followed by a 3-1 triumph at theirs in April.
Barking: Boro’s Record
Our head-to-head: P 3 — W 2 — D 0 — L 1 — F 6 — A 5 — Pts 6 — WR 67%
Our last tango: Barking 1-3 Stevenage Borough, 18 April 1992
What happened to them?
Up we went to the Premier Division at the end of the 1991-2 season. That much we know without looking it up. But how about the Blues’ fortunes? Well, ‘not so good’ is the answer. They staggered on for another four seasons in Division One; ending up bottom of the pile in the 1995-6 season. While that was (coincidentally) another high point in our journey, it was a new low – and relegation to Icis League Division Two – for the east London side.
Five years later, the 2000-1 season saw the club finish third to secure promotion back up to Division One. But they weren’t going up alone. In fact, Barking – as a club – no longer existed. A merger with neighbours East Ham United meant a “new” outfit lined up for the start of the 2001-2 campaign. It was a short-lived and turbulent adventure, however. And, four years on, Barking and East Ham United folded due to problems off the pitch.
A brand-new Barking Football Club formed in summer 2006 to keep the name going.
• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Barking club profile