Ex-Irons Report - Housham starring for Barrow

Last updated : 21 March 2002 By Luke Thornhill
Following United's relegation to division three Steve Housham rejected the Iron's offer of a new one year contract saying that he needed first team football at this point in his career.

Housh signed for Barrow in the July, after previously playing for both them and Gainsborough Trinity on loan.

Steve has now featured over sixty times for the South Cumbrian outfit, and is a firm fan favourite topping their goalscoring charts from midfield.

On this background I made the trip down to Lancaster with three Barrow supporters and a Darlo fan, the first time I had seen the Bluebirds play - despite being told of their exploits practically every Monday morning.

Despite claiming to be a fully-fledged football fan I have little experience of watching non-league sides play - this despite regulalry passing The Hawthorns (Brigg Town's ground) whilst biking into school a few years back.

After an hour on the train down from Carlisle the Giant Axe was a typical non-league ground - right down to running out of warm food well before half-time.

Thus the meat pie and bovril, staple diet of all true footy fans, was out of the window.

The cost of getting into the ground did make a refreshing change, waving my NUS card in the face of the turnstile operater got me in for three quid, with only a further two being asked for those not of the student population.

It is often said that non-league grounds provide the most charm and atmosphere. Well, that's simply not true unless you're a died in the wool fan of one of the two sides.

Onto the match, Housh returned to the starting lineup after serving a one match ban. There was no place in the squad though for Wayne Bullimore, an Iron favourite under the days of Dave Moore.

Also in presence, was United's football in the community officer Lee Turnbull - who is assistant manager at Holker Street.

Despite being around an hour away from Barrow, the trip to Lancaster was effectively a local derby and this was reflected in the amount of fans in attendance at the game.

Impressively 1028 people paid to get into the Giant Axe, and when you think that only 2877 were attracted to our game with Exeter City it seems even more remarkable.

Evidently they weren't there for the standard of football, as I saw move after move break down as a result of players not being quick enough of the mark I couldn't help thinking that the Iron Filings would push either side for a result.

However, like United's clash with Exeter, this game saw plenty of goals.

Lee Ellison, formerly of Darlington, opened the scoring for Barrow wih a curling shot into an empty net which seemed destined to hit the post before luckily bending in.

This was with the goalkeeper in no mans land, and no defenders thinking to get back and cover the line. One wonders why a simple pass wouldn't have done, but it went in and he lives to see another game.

Steve Housham was having a quiet game, but should have done better when he was involved in a goalmouth scramble shortly afterwards.

Lancaster failed to properly clear the ball, and racing into the box he won the ball, before promtly losing it again - eventually a tame shot from outside of the area went straight into the home 'keepers gloves.

Now, United fans have rightly had a lot of criticism aimed at referee's in the past. However, sometimes we just have to count our blessings for last night's ref here was bordering on the mentally unstable judging by some of his decisions, including not sending the home keeper off for deliberate handball outside of his area.

Barrow took a 3-1 lead into second half stoppage time, and although Housh had been solid his performance was anything but spectacular.

The only moment of note I recall from his performance, was a second half run into the area which unfortuantley none of his teammates were able to pick up - I suspect most league footballers would have whipped a cross in and he'd have had a great chance of scoring.

As I say, 3-1 going into second half stoppage time. Two late strikes, capitalising on lacklustre defending (sound familiar?) saw the home side snatch the point in the top of the table clash.

Although the majority of supporters in the ground seemed to think that it was a good game. Probably based more on the number of goalscoring opportunities, both taken and wasted, than the quality of the play itself.

The match itself failed to live upto my expectations if not the other thousand or so.

Housham did have a very quiet game indeed, but I'm told that prior to this game he has had an excellent season and is a firm fan favourite.

Hopefully he can move back up the league ladder, Burton Albion are almost certain to be promoted to the Conference ahead of Barrow this season, but the Conference at least is a league worthy of his ability.