Reminiscing About Arthur And Eddie!
Barney On His Friends
Wolves v Nottingham Forest……there’s one meeting of the clubs that springs to mind faster and fonder than all others.
And, for John Barnwell, 1980 Wembley glory carried the extra significance of being achieved at the expense of his former employers and to the discomfort of the game’s best-known manager.
Lifting the League Cup was the peak of the Geordie’s decade and a half in the dug-out at his various clubs – a spectacular way of continuing to make a name for himself 16 months on from when he used someone else’s to gain a sneak preview of the side he would be taking on.
Arthur Smith was never going to be part of the new Molineux backroom team but played a part in the decision-making process nonetheless.
“Arthur was a good friend who had a business in Nottingham and he gave me the idea of booking a ticket and hotel in the name of Smith rather than my own,” Barnwell said.
“That way, I was able to watch much more anonymously when Wolves had a home game against Leeds just before my appointment.
“I had my interview at the Mount Hotel, where I also stayed while I looked for a place in the Wolverhampton area. I look back very fondly at my time at Wolves and was saddened to learn recently that the man I succeeded, Sammy Chung, had passed away.
“I was always careful in the press not to criticise what had gone on before. I didn’t know Sammy well but had met him a couple of times and found him to be a gentleman and someone of intelligence.”
One of my first memories of Barnwell the Wolves boss – from when I attended a post-match press conference in his office at the League Cup quarter-final against Grimsby in 1979 – was a less diplomatic affair. He was berating a Humberside journalist for something that had been written.
Almost four and a half decades on, though, comes the confirmation that he also had very good times with those working in the media.
“I remember telling Eddie Griffiths from the Express & Star and the fella from Beacon Radio (Pat Foley) that they were more important to me than the national papers,” Barnwell added.
“I used to hold some stories back and gave Eddie an hour a week at the Mount because I wanted him to have something ahead of the nationals and not feel like he was following up what they had written.
“After one away game, he stopped me for a word on my way to the coach and I breezed by him with the comment: ‘Eddie, I am pushed for time….can I see you later at the Mount?’ I made sure he knew to be there no later than nine’.
“A surprise party had been arranged for him and my role was to send Ian Ross out to escort him into a room where 50 or 60 folks were congregated and ready to welcome him.”
It would be lovely to think Barnwell, who played in the 3-3 Molineux draw against Forest that marked Peter Knowles’ final game before retirement, will be at one of this season’s clashes of the two clubs – the first ever between them in the Premier League and their first at this level since 1984.
But we shouldn’t forget that he very much has a foot in both camps, having lived for many years in the East Midlands, where he is a neighbour of former Forest captain John McGovern.