Barrow

Progression Solicitors Stadium

Capacity: 5,045 (Seats 1,000)
Address: Wilkie Road, Barrow-in-Furness, LA14 5UW
Telephone: 01229 666010
Pitch Size: 110 x 74 yards
Pitch Type: Grass
Club Nickname: Bluebirds
Year Ground Opened: 1909
Undersoil Heating: No
Home Kit: Blue and White

Main Stand
Main Stand
Ray Wilkie Popular Side
Ray Wilkie Popular Side
Crossbar End
Crossbar End

Holker Street is a traditional old looking ground that has been improved recently with the erecting of a roof over the Holker Street End. The ground is quite striking with the use of the team’s blue and white colours on the stands around the stadium. On one side is the colourful looking Brian Arrowsmith Stand, named after a former Barrow Manager and Player, who spent his entire career at the club. This is the main stand at the ground and is seated and covered. It has some supporting pillars along the front of the stand and runs for around half the length of the pitch. It is situated on the half way line and is raised above pitch level, meaning that you have to climb a small staircase to access it. The areas to either side of the stand are flat standing spaces. 

On one side is the Ray Wilkie Popular Side Stand. This is a terrace which is covered towards the centre. The Crossbar Terrace (also known as the Steelworks End) at one of the stadium, is on one side, a small open terrace, whereas the other side is not really used for spectators. In fact, this area houses the Club Offices which tends to be detrimental to the overall look of the ground. Opposite is the larger Holker Street Terrace, which was recently an open area, but has now been covered with a roof. This end is split between home and away fans. The stadium has a set of tall modern floodlights, although the old classic looking floodlights that they replaced are still currently in place.

In July 2019 the Holker Street ground was renamed the Progression Solicitors Stadium in a two-year corporate sponsorship deal.

Away fans are mostly housed on one side of the Holker Street Terrace (towards the Brian Arrowsmith Stand) at one end of the ground. There is also some additional standing space available beside the Brian Arrowsmith Stand. Oddly the Club have elected to segregate supporters at that end by the use of a dividing fence which means that no visiting fans can stand directly behind the goal. During the Summer of 2020, a roof was erected over the whole of the Holker Street End, providing welcome cover for visiting supporters. This should also help boost the atmosphere inside the ground. In addition to this terraced area, a number of seats are made available to away fans in the covered Brian Arrowsmith Stand. Catering inside the ground is in the form of the obligatory burger van.

The Club has its own club house bar called the ‘Crossbar’. This bar welcomes away supporters and has SKY and BT Sports television. Elaine Warden informs me; 'There is a pub next door to the ground called the Soccer Bar which is independent from the club and popular with visiting supporters as well as home fans.'

Otherwise, if you go along Walney Road (A590) towards the town centre firstly passing Asda, then turning left onto Duke Street, you will find the Ambrose Hotel, which has a selection of real ale. Alternatively, continue on the A590 passing first ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’ pub (part of the Hungry Horse chain) before you will reach a retail park that has a number of eating outlets including a McDonalds and KFC as well as a Tesco Extra.

If you have a bit more time on your hands you might park at the Holker Street end of the ground then you can take the 10-15 minute walk down Holker Street into the town centre. Peter Naylor adds: 'At the junction of Holker Street and Abbey Road, near the railway station, you will find a fine action statue of Emlyn Hughes, who came from Barrow. Across the road is ‘The Duke of Edinburgh’, a developing four star hotel with a good selection of drinks generally, real ales in particular, while walking a further block to your right you will encounter ‘The Furness Railway’, a Wetherspoons pub themed to the company that led to the development of Barrow. Both these pubs are listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide

Leave the M6 at Junction 36 and take the A590 towards Barrow-in-Furness. As you enter the outskirts of Barrow you will pass a fire station on your right. You should now be able to see the floodlights of the stadium over on your left. Turn left into Wilkie Road and then right into Holker Street. Plenty of street parking is available.

Post Code Sat-Nav: LA14 5UW

Barrow-in-Furness Railway Station is located just under a mile away from the Holker Street ground. It is served by trains from Lancaster and Carlisle. John Stafford informs me; 'emerge from the station and the small station entrance road leads directly onto Holker Street. Look right and you will be able to see the floodlights of the ground further up Holker Street itself.'

Booking train tickets in advance will normally save you money! Find train times, prices and book tickets with Trainline. Visit the website below to see how much you can save on the price of your tickets:

Seating 

Adults £16, Over 65's £12, Under 21's £5, Under 16’s £3

Terrace

Adults £13, Over 65's £10, Under 21's £5, Under 16’s £3

Official Programme £2.50

Workington, Lancaster City and Fleetwood Town.

Barrow AFC Fixtures (takes you to the BBC Sports Website).

Record Attendance

16,874 v Swansea City
FA Cup 3rd Round, January 1954.

Average Attendance
2018-2019: 1,375 (National League)
2017-2018: 1,181 (National League)
2016-2017: 1,293 (National League)

If you require hotel accommodation in Barrow In Furnace then first try a hotel booking service provided by Booking.com. They offer all types of accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets from; Budget Hotels, Traditional Bed & Breakfast establishments to Five Star Hotels and Serviced Apartments. Plus their booking system is straightforward and easy to use. Yes this site will earn a small commission if you book through them, but it will help towards the running costs of keeping this Guide going. 

If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail me at: [email protected] and I'll update the guide.

Special thanks to Paul Willott for providing the photo of the Holker Street End.

Barrow v Chesterfield
National League
Tuesday 14th August 2018, 7.45pm
Paul Willott (Neutral)

Holker Street had been identified as a possible venue for mid-holiday entertainment by our eldest lad and myself during our sojourn in the Lake district. Being domiciled in Kent it was an ideal chance to pay a visit to one of the more inaccessible grounds of England.  Indeed, any who have previously visited Barrow will appreciate the time it takes to reach this far-flung peninsula of the British Isles, and I also recommend the book “Football’s 100 strangest matches,” to the reader with particular reference to the Barrow v Gillingham entry. I will say no more…
 
Holker Street FloodlghtsTherefore, unlike many a visitor to Barrow, we had an easy time of it from our holiday base in Bowness-on-Windermere, with a drive time of approximately 45 minutes and being early birds being able to scavenge the best of the nearby on-street parking. If first impressions are to be noted, Holker Street, or the “Furness Building Society Stadium” as it is currently re-branded, does not score too highly. The exterior of the Main stand is a trifle austere and cold in its appearance, and some of the nearby turnstile doors varied in their appearance from careworn to downright rotten.  Interesting of note, however, was that one of the old floodlight pylons survives, albeit minus any bulbs, but is justifying its continued existence as a platform for cellphone network equipment.  Just how long it will outlive its three sisters that have all been dismantled remains to be seen, but it did give a flavour to how the ground would have appeared in years gone by.
 
Much as the initial exterior of Holker Street may appear as though it has seen better days, it must be noted that much could be said of Barrow itself, a town that has seen much hardship as the workforce of the Vickers Shipyard has shrunk from some 20,000 to less than 2,000. With an area that has struggled to provide much in the way of alternative employment, the town’s population has dwindled and the decline of the football club in losing its league status back in the 1970s, the demise of direct train services to London that ceased during the 1980's, all reflect towards the struggles of the town itself.
 
Returning to the present, we trundled into the club offices to acquire tickets where the staff were very welcoming once they’d scratched their heads at the concept of Preston North Enders living in Kent but holidaying nearby coming to cheer on their team had sunk in! Whilst we waited for the turnstiles to open, we cast our eyes over the neighbouring ground of Furness Rovers FC, who ply their trade in the West Lancashire leagues. 
 
External View
 
External View
 
Once inside the ground, my mood lifted considerably, as the ground inside is a far more endearing affair than its external appearance may suggest. The Main Stand is brightly picked out in blue and white with matching seats, and opposite the Popular Side terrace named after Ray Wilkie has a roof with similar coloured cladding. The Holker Street terrace itself is a beauty for those who love old terraces and crush barriers. Being early entrants into the ground, we had a good wander around and noted that the Holker Street Terrace was divided between home and away support down the middle for the evening’s match, but clearly facilities existed if demand required to allocate the whole of the open terrace to away support. Having had a good look round, we opted to pick a spot under the roof of the Popular Side to watch the evening’s match as blustery heavy showers were whisking in off the Irish Sea with some gusto. Also worthy of note were the collection of lovely old turnstiles at the back of the Popular Side that any connoisseur would drool over!
 
Main Stand
 
Main Stand
 
The match itself promised to be an interesting test for the home side; the visitors record was played three, won three and conceding no goals in the process, and were clearly making a statement of intent to try to return to the Football League at the first attempt. That said, Barrow started with some endeavour and were clearly not interested in paying too much respect to their table-topping visitors from Derbyshire, and when Jack Hindle opened the scoring for the home side at the end of a fine flowing move, it certainly wasn’t against the run of play. However, the lead didn’t last long, as around the quarter hour mark, Chesterfield equalised to send the 300 or so travelling support into raptures, Hines the scorer. Free flowing football continued, and to be fair Barrow were the better side crafting a couple of great chances that I was concerned they might live to regret not converting.  As the half time whistle approached, I mused that it was not the first time I was finding fifth tier football far more entertaining than the fayre on offer at League Two venues.
 
Popular Side
 
Popular Side
 
At the half time whistle, the vast majority of home supporters that had been occupying their half of the Holker Street open terrace that the home side had been attacking drifted round to take up station under the roof of the Popular side, although a few did continue all the way to the small terrace behind the other goal, which arguably is the one side that aesthetically lets the overall impression of the interior of the ground down a little. Noticeably though now, the noise being generated under the roof of the Popular Side was really roaring on the home side once the second half got underway, only to be briefly silenced when a brief moment of naivety in defending a set piece allowed Will Evans to head home to put the visitors in front. 
 
Holker Street End Terrace
 
Holker Street End Terrace
 
For a brief while it seemed as though that little bit of nous and experience would see the visitors take a stranglehold of the game, but Barrow calmed themselves and steadied the ship and soon a sense of belief and hope flowed positively and noisily from the home support, transmitting itself to the players in blue out on the pitch, although at that point I still believed that they would rue the chances they hadn’t converted in the first half. Then came arguably the turning point of the second half as one of Chesterfields defenders was shown a straight red card for what we could only guess was a badly timed and dangerous tackle, it being on the opposite side of the pitch from where we were stood. Barrow players and fans alike sensed a chance and upped the ante, which was eventually rewarded in the 69th minute when Tyler Smith drilled in a smart finish to capitalise another good piece of build-up play. Barely head the celebrations subsided when the same player headed in a cross to raucous praise and the little ground was positively rocking. There were still chances for more goals, but none came and Barrow saw the game out fairly comfortably to deservedly win the match 3-2 and were applauded off the pitch in some style. I noted how much it clearly meant for the young squad to have delivered such a result for their supporters, which for me was a heartwarming end to a great evening’s entertainment.
 
Almost as soon as we were out of the ground we were in our car for the short journey back to our holiday retreat reflecting on a cracking game. It was interesting also to note that in the matchday programme, certainly one of the better ones I’ve seen produced in the National League (or Conference as I still call it out of habit ), they harked back to previous meetings between the two clubs during their league days in the late 1960's, early 1970's, where their last meeting at Holker Street was played out in front of a crowd of over 7,000.  The game we had witnessed was watched by just over 1,700. Now, much as that may make a statement to the decline of Barrow as a town that I talked about earlier, and also the changing habits and entertainment options open to the menfolk of the UK in the intervening decades, I still reflected on what for me had been a very promising evening for the home side. Sure, it was and still is early days in the season, but equipped with some very promising youngsters, who knows how far Barrow may progress this season. 
 
Maybe, just maybe, they could dare to dream of getting involved at the sharp end of the table come next Spring and push for a return to league action?   Now that would be a real feel good story for the town of Barrow-in-Furness! Come on you Blues!
 
Plus points for Holker Street
1. Interior of ground has lovely ‘old school’ charm and flavour 
2. Ground easy to find to your left as you approach Barrow on main road
3. Good match day programme
4. Home fans generate good atmosphere
 
Minus points for Holker Street
1. Ground exterior would greatly benefit from a facelift
 
And finally….
If you are driving to watch your team play at Barrow for the first time, allow yourself more time than you may think you need ; it may seem just a hop, skip, and a jump from junction 36 of the M6, but take it from me as a well travelled man from the north-west that the ‘A’ roads towards Barrow follow anything but a straight line, so allow more time than you may think at first necessary.

Barrow v Sutton United
National League
Tuesday 13th February 2018, 7:45pm
George (Sutton United fan)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Furness Building Society Stadium?
 
It was a funny one because this was something of a second attempt. Just two weekends previously, I had been making the same journey to Barrow before getting a tweet saying the game had been called off, meaning I had to get off and hang around Wigan for an hour before trekking back. I was looking forward to seeing one of the more remote clubs in the league and Sutton were in good form, having not lost since December and firmly in the play-off places.
 
How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
 
I'm a Sutton United fan based in Manchester which makes the Northern away matches easier for me. Two hours there and back, changing at Preston.
 
What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?
 
Due to train ticket prices, I turned up a whole two and a half hours before kick off giving me plenty of time for a walk around town and to find some food. Couldn't really find a sit down place other than McDonalds and ended settling for a Morrisons cafe as I'd had the idea of a Northern chippy in my head all day. In terms of the home fans, I haven't come across a more friendly bunch than Barrow. It was them who invited me into their club bar while I was stood outside waiting for the away turnstiles to open and you can tell the club means a great deal to the town.
 
What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the Furness Building Society Stadium?
 
Holker Street is a really traditional ground with high walls. Same can be said for our terrace behind the goal which looked like something out of the flashback scenes from fever pitch.
 
Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..
 
Due to the cancellation of the original fixture, the game was rearranged with short notice, and with Cumbria being so far away, Sutton only managed to bring 13 away fans along. None the less we remained in good voice. A burger and bovril was cheaper than a burger on its own at our place, and it was of great quality. Stewards were friendly but frankly must have felt unnecessary given how few of us were there and the burger van people were equally chatty and appreciated us trekking to the Lake District for a late kick off. It was a drab performance from Sutton and we were lucky to snatch a 1-1 draw.
 
Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
 
I made a bit of a fool of myself, as the game ended some ten minutes before my train was due to leave meaning I had to sprint like a madman down a Cumbrian pavement only to make the train to Preston with two minutes to spare, and inevitably tripping up the stairs as I launched myself up them
 
Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
 
Holker Street is a great old fashioned ground, with cheap ticket prices and a lovely bunch of fans.

Barrow v Torquay United
National League
Saturday 16th September 2017, 3pm
David Watson (Torquay United fan)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Furness Building Society Stadium?
 
As a Torquay United fan living in Scotland, there are few opportunities for affordable day trips to watch the Gulls. I'd initially discounted Barrow as it's a lengthy train journey (despite its Northern location) with an early start. However, the game was scheduled in early Autumn, meaning a better chance of decent weather, plus advance rail fares gave me the opportunity for a bargain trip!
 
How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
 
I had checked this Guide out many beforehand, so I knew how easy it was to find the Holker Street ground from the Railway Station; a 15 minute walk along a straight road. A 7:am start to the journey, with changes at Glasgow and Lancaster saw me and my pal Graeme arrive at Barrow station by 12:30.
 
What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?
 
Out of the station, and straight across the road to the Duke of Edinburgh pub, for a couple of pre-match pints. It is a really nice pub, with a good selection of beers and ciders. Quiet at this time, no Barrow fans in evidence at this point. From there, after a pause for a photocall with the Emlyn Hughes Statue, it was an easy walk straight along Holker Street to the ground and the Crossbar, Barrow's Social Club. The Crossbar is highly recommended, reasonably priced, good beer selection and with a great view over the ground. It was quiet when we arrived (just after 2pm) but within half an hour it was quite busy with a long queue at the bar. The Barrow fans we met were, without exception, a friendly bunch and were quite curious as to why a Torquay fan had a Scottish accent! (Brief explanation: I have a friend down there who is a Gulls fan, he has similarly adopted my team, Morton.)
 
What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the Furness Building Society Stadium?
 
Looking out from the Crossbar, Holker Street is a tidy, traditional looking ground, ideal for this level of football. The Brian Arrowsmith Stand looks good, although open at the sides, but we elected to head to the terracing as it was a nice day. Only one turnstile was open, so we paid for the terrace, the option was available within the ground to pay the extra £3 to sit in the Main Sstand. The away end itself was a bit disappointing, as we were in a corner of the ground only extending partway into the 18 yard box, but more than enough room for the 49 away fans in attendance. A small “no mans land” section (needlessly) separated us from the home fans further along the Holker Street End. Despite all this, the view was good and the weather kind for most of the day. The home fans were along the side of the park and behind both goals. A crowd of 1,190 was well spread among these areas. Having the social club on the perimeter on the park is a downside to the appearance of the ground but just a minor one. The club have recently invested in new floodlights, with modern looking pylons along each side of the park. Presumably, the old towers will be removed in due course which will mean the ground is not quite so visible from a distance (although it will still be easy to find from the railway station).
 
The Old and New Floodlights
 
Holker Street New Floodlights
 

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..
 
The game itself was okay, although not much quality on show – hardly surprising with Gulls rock bottom of the league and the Bluebirds just above the relegation zone. Torquay United, with a new manager to impress, took the lead after five minutes, in front of the travelling support, which was nice. Barrow equalised in injury time, denying the Gulls a first win of the season. In truth, they hadn’t looked much like scoring till that point. There wasn’t a lot of atmosphere with the crowd separated as noted above, so not much chance for any banter. I enjoyed the chat with other Gulls fans and a few ground-hoppers who had made the trip too. Stewarding and policing were both absolutely fine and helpful. I had a burger (£2.50) and tea (£1) from the van perched on a corner of the terrace. A good cuppa, with milk and sugar available from a table to the side of the van. The burger was hot and tasty, although the roll a bit dry. Good value overall though. The loos were in a small hut to the side of the away end and perfectly adequate and clean.
 
Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
 
The gate out of the away end took us directly on to Holker Street, so turn right and a straight road back to the station. We mixed with home fans as they spilled out of their end, but absolutely no hassle. A Tesco Express store beside Barrow Station provided the opportunity for a few refreshments to be obtained for the journey home. However, while the journey there had been seamless, the train back to Lancaster was cancelled, meaning we would miss our connection to Glasgow. So, the Duke of Edinburgh was frequented again before boarding an extremely busy train after 6pm, packed in like sardines with many teenagers en route to a festival in Ulverston. Missing a further Glasgow train by seconds plus another cancellation, meant wait of almost two hours in Lancaster. Fortunately, there was a rather nice pub close by (called the Merchants 1688) which meant passing the time was rather pleasant! These combined delays meant I didn’t reach home till 12:30 am, so a long day. The advance rail ticket was accepted on the later service though, so no additional expense.
 
Summary of overall thoughts of the day out::
 
I really enjoyed the day, despite the early start and late finish. I didn't see much of the town (there was plenty time to do so but I chose the pub...) The Barrow fans were a friendly bunch and it was very nice to mingle and chat together in the social club. Hopefully both teams will be in the National League again next season to allow for a repeat visit.

Barrow v Gateshead
National League
Monday 26th December 2016, 3pm
Adam Kennedy (Gateshead fan)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Holker Street Ground?

This seemed like a good test for us. Holker Street is a ground I'd never been to, we seemed to do better away and they were unbeaten since August.

How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

 Journey was easy, Satnav led us straight into Barrow and aside from a couple of scary black ice moments on the way, it was a very nice drive including a stop in Kendall for lunch. The Holker Street ground was easy to find. Their fans could not have been more helpful in helping us find parking

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?

Home fans were brilliant. The staff in the ground guided us to the sports bar where a real pre-match atmosphere was building. Good banter between both sets of supporters. Very friendly and very welcoming.

What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the Holker Street Stadium?

Holker Street is a proper ground. Seemed old and worn but this felt like a proper place to watch football. I stood on the terraces. It was open to the elements and Barrow is the coldest place I've ever been (here's a tip, take 1 more coat than you think necessary).

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc.. 

We had a burger van In the away end. The burger was very nice. Not bad coffee either. The stewards were a laugh. The only negative was the wind. The wind affected the game and the fans. I even lost half a cup of coffee to the wind. The game itself was competitive but with the conditions neither team could get going. The banter with their fans was a laugh, we made the most of it despite the result (0-0).

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Getting out now we knew where we were going was very easy. The Asda close to the ground was handy for topping up on snacks for going home. Again the fans could not have been more helpful. I got out of Holker Street faster than I do at Gateshead.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Holker Street was a superb day out. Staff in the ground were superb, their fans were helpful. Even the weather kind of added to the day. I'll be back next year!

Barrow v Macclesfield Town
National League Premier
Tuesday 4th October 2016, 7.45pm
Brian Scott (Neutral fan)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Holker Street Ground?

Apart from Truro City, Barrow must be the most difficult ground to get to for me in the top seven leagues, so it was quite an expedition to plan.

How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

I travelled by train via London which took a total of 7 1/2 hours, and thankfully everything went smoothly arriving in Barrow at 15.42. The ground was not difficult to find as I had my map and directions from this site which were very straightforward.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?

Firstly I checked in to the Gables Hotel in Abbey Road which is reasonably convenient for the Railway Station, Town Centre and the ground. About 5pm I went into the town and soon found the Wetherspoons pub where I had a hot snack. It was still daylight when I had finished so I had a walk down to the docks noting the submarine sheds (if that's what you call them!). As I had walked in completely the wrong direction for the football ground it was quite a walk to get there. I met several friendly cats on the way! I was at the turnstiles before 7pm and soon after that the gate was opened but none was allowed in until the stewards had finished a meeting. It was not until 7.15pm before they appeared and quite a long queue had built up and there was quite a reasonable crowd for a National League game of 1,442. This hanging around outside was not helpful in making me enjoy Barrow! I was able to pay for a seat on the turnstile and was given a ticket. This type of system often changes at various grounds so it is difficult to keep the details on the web site up to date.

What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of Holker Street?

The Main Stand and the covered terrace opposite looked good, painted in blue and white stripes. As this is an old ground much of the open terracing looked a s though it had seen better days. I had my usual walk around the ground but I was challenged as I tried to get through what was apparently the away section of the Holker Street terrace. There were only a few Macclesfield fans but they still tried to segregate them. Fortunately I was allowed to pass through, the steward being surprised that I was from Ipswich and had come up north just for this game.

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

At first I was cheering the wrong team! In fact Macclesfield were wearing a blue strip with white shorts and Barrow (The Bluebirds!) were wearing white with dark blue shorts. Even a home fan sitting near me commented that the Bluebirds weren't wearing blue. If this was my team it would annoy me. The first half was uninspiring and ended 0-0. It was only in the last ten minutes when there was anything exciting. Barrow opened the scoring from a well worked free kick, and then it was even again shortly afterwards when Macclesfield also scored shortly after a free kick. There was a reasonable atmosphere in the ground with the tiny away following trying to make a bit of noise.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

I was walking from the ground back to my hotel and arrived back there by the shortest route before 10pm and so to bed. Another 7 hour train journey home the next day. Looking forward to my next trip which is Queen of the South in Dumfries.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Although it was a long way, everything went to plan with travelling, hotel etc, so it was well worth the time and expense. As I had a bit of time to spare before catching my train home at 10.09am on the Wednesday, I had a walk in Barrow park, which is on Abbey Road, just across the road from the railway station. I would recommend a stroll through the park as it is well kept and there is a good view from the war memorial over houses towards the football ground.

Barrow v Cheltenham Town
Conference National League
Saturday 6th February 2016, 3pm
Paul Oxenbury (Cheltenham Town fan)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Holker Street ground?    

I was very much looking forward to this game. Firstly, it's been a long time since I've been on an away game and I love a long trip (this my furthest with Cheltenham Town). It's a good time at the moment to be a Cheltenham fan too, challenging for promotion having lost only once away in the league all season.

How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?    

Given the distance, the journey was relatively easy. I went by train changing at Birmingham and Lancaster. The Holker Street ground is very easy to find from the train station. Look right and you can see the floodlights and it's a five minute walk.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?    

As I don't visit this part of England very often, I took the chance to take a walk around the Arnside and Silverdale, which are listed as areas of outstanding natural beauty.  At the ground the home fans I encountered seem a friendly bunch. Obviously there were no fears of trouble as there was no segregation in force for the the game.

What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the Holker Street Stadium?    

From the outside, the stadium looked a touch run down. Inside, the two stands behind the goal are uncovered which is not ideal given the amount of rain the area gets! The stand opposite the one I was sat in reminded me a bit of the old Wymans Road stand at Cheltenham before it was redeveloped while the Main Stand is actually better than some league grounds I've been to. It feels close to the pitch, the sight lines are excellent (apart from one annoyingly placed pillar) and there is plenty of leg room though it's hard to judge what it would like for a taller person.

Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..    

Despite the heavy pitch and windy conditions, the game was an intriguing tactical battle, if not of the highest quality. Cheltenham scored after two minutes and should have been out of sight after half an hour creating many chances and missing a penalty. To be fair to Barrow, they made a double substitution, changed their tactics and actually bothered to tackle and close down the Cheltenham midfield. Cheltenham by contrast, fell right off the pace and it was no surprise when the home side equalised but Gary Johnson sides find a way to win and that's exactly what Cheltenham did to win 2-1 and go top. The atmosphere was a little quiet partly because of the lack of segregation so the visiting fans couldn't sit or stand together and partly because the home side gave their fans little to cheer. Still, the mix of fans (the first time I've experienced it at football) created a pretty friendly atmosphere.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

No problems getting to the station. For once the rail network ran pretty smoothly.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

A very enjoyable day. A pleasant journey to a very nice part of the UK. The ground is a typical old fashioned non-league style and excellent value for £15. Most importantly, Cheltenham won so I really couldn't ask for more. 8 of 10.

Barrow AFC v Grimsby Town
Conference Premier League
Tuesday, January 24th 2012, 7.45pm
Glynn Sharkey (Grimsby Town fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

Although my Dad was from Carlisle and also spending a lot of my youth in the area I had never set foot in the town of Barrow-in-Furness. As such I was looking forward to this trip even though it was a Tuesday night game, the good old Travelodge sale rooms came into their own once again.
I had preconceptions of a gloomy, run down industrial town on the edge of a desolate windswept peninsula but I was going to be proved wrong.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

It's not a trip to the shops. Me and the other half set off at 9.30am and arrived about 1pm via the M181/M180/M18/M62/M61/ M6 and the seemingly endless A590. We dumped the car at the Travelodge which was situated just across the road from the ground and headed into town with six hours to kill.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

It was slinging it down with rain, so the first port of call was the "Furness Railway" a Wetherspoons outlet, rude not to really as it was steak club day. After a few pints and a full belly, plus with the rain slowing, we had a walk round the town centre such as it is. One weird thing we noticed is the High Street is in fact a side street with no shops at all!

We tried a few watering holes and eventually ended up in a boozer near the docks called the Devonshire Hotel, a good old fashioned, no frills pub. There is a massive ship on the docks which up until recently was used as a 2,500 capacity nightclub, it's also a great location for any err... submarine watchers.

From there we made our way across a long road bridge to Walney island and settled down in the Ferry Hotel which can be seen from the bridge. A Crown carvery establishment which does good cheap food and good priced beers. Our friend Chris arrived by train and met us there, he was stunned by the quality of the "nosebag" as he calls it. This place is highly recommended by us all. Fed and watered and with kick off approaching we set off on the 15-20 mins walk to the ground.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

Wet and bedraggled we arrived to see four proper old school floodlight pylons, a scene that always and without fail, warms me to any ground. The right hand side of the open terrace behind the goal is for away fans with some seats in the covered stand to the right also available. A good third of the open end just in front of the goal seems to be no man's land, with the rest of this terrace given to the home fans to the left of the goal. We ended up in the seats (more about this below) which had a good view of the open terrace to the left, a small covered stand opposite and to the right a very shallow bit of terrace backing onto what appeared to be their supporters club. All in all a small, basic, old footy ground. I fell in love with the place.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..

Being 2-1 up and maybe being just in control, I felt Barrow's last minute equaliser came from nowhere. Saying that, at setting off time that morning I would have took the point, also our rival's results were not too bad either. Less than 200 Grimsby still managed to make themselves heard and I am sure had it had been a Saturday there would have been 500 plus.
It really is a long haul for a night game.

One sour note was the stewarding, we were told for twenty shillings we could transfer into the seats. There was a steward who seemed to take pleasure in refusing people the transfer with the retort they would have to stand and get wet. He tried it with us three (Two middle aged blokes and woman) but we managed to blag it in, many others were refused.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Easy! Straight back into town and the Furnace Railway Wetherspoons, after checking the latest time we could get a table at the Mithwali curry house across the road. The curry rounded off a brilliant but wet day out and we were more than ready to fall into bed after the 15-20 minute walk back to the Travelodge.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

A rainy January night in Cumbria might not sound like everyones idea of fun but me and the other half were more than impressed. The next full day was spent across the bridge exploring Walney Island, with it's villages, hamlets, caravan parks, pubs and wildlife. A stunning piece of land well worth exploring for it's scenery and history.

It's very surreal with the shipyards and town of Barrow stretching out below the mountains of the lake district from one side of the island, and less than a mile on the other side, the crashing waves of the Irish sea on a windswept rocky beach. If Grimsby are still in the same league as Barrow next season, this will be a definite must do.

Barrow AFC v Luton Town
Conference Premier League
Saturday, February 6th 2010, 3pm
Steve Bailey (Luton Town fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

I have been looking forward to visiting this ground since 1969 – and I’m not joking!  When I was a young Luton fan we played Barrow in the old Division 3 and I had a map of where all the grounds were, looked at it and thought “that’s a long way, must go there one day”.  Being too young for away games then and with Barrow dropping out of the league soon after we’ve never played them again  … till now.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking:

The journey took a long long time – nearly 7 hours and 4 trains from my current home in Peterborough but I went up the day before and didn’t go back till the Sunday, meeting up with a few friends from different parts of the country who also made a long weekend of it.  The ground was easy to find as Holker Street is a long straight road from the station and the pub we drank in before the game.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

Before the game we drank in the Duke of Edinburgh pub, lots of real ales, good food and highly recommended.  The local fans were very friendly - not that there was many of them in the pub mind.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

As I approached the ground I took a photo of the “away supporters this way” sign and a local fan joked “not much to take photos of here” to which we replied “you haven’t seen Kenilworth Road then have you?” Going in I handed my ticket (a modest affair, a little white strip more like a cardboard bus ticket) to the lady at the turnstile only for her to say “hang on to that” and ticked me off on the piece of paper using the low-tech five-bar gate counting system to record the away attendance!

The ground was as I expected although the seated stands on the sides were much larger than I thought they’d be.  A very neat old ground, all nicely painted in blue and white. We were actually housed in the Holker Street end rather than the Crossbar end stated in the Guide, presumably they use this end when a bigger away attendance is expected.  This is a fairly shallow open terrace and would not be good on a wet day!  Fortunately it was cold but dry so all was well.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..

The game was a hard fought 1-0 win to us coming from a late goal when a 0-0 draw seemed the likely outcome.  Atmosphere was not great as it’s an open end so hard to get any noise going and there was only 302 of us anyway, still the biggest away crowd at Barrow this season though.  Stewards were inconspicuous and don’t even recall seeing any police in the ground.  Toilets were of the pre-war variety with the addition of a plastic roof, bit like the ones at Altrincham and York, and should have a preservation order put them before they are ruined by modern fittings!  As the game wore on a fog descended and we could hardly see the other end – we joked of an abandonment after all our long journeys but the game lasted the distance. 
           
6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Very easy, we were back in the pub again before we knew it!
            
7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

A good day on all counts and should we both still be in the Conference next season we all agreed to come again.

Why not write your own review of Holker Street Barrow AFC and have it included in the Guide? Find out more about submitting a Fans Football Ground Review.

Updated 20th June 2020

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