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Why I am banned by Barnet FC
IN her heydays as a no-nonsense magistrate -- a trait she has carried into our family life - Mrs S was allocated many football hooligan cases at Tottenham Court and would come home to tell me of the banning orders imposed on fans she had surprised with her knowledge of life on the terraces when they offered a futile defence.
Sad to say that at my time of life I have had to confess to the lady that I have just had a ban imposed on me by Barnet FC.
The indignity came about when my Toyota ran out of steam in Barnet Lane when I was en route to the pre-match lunch before the recent home game against Cheltenham Town.
I was stuck alongside a bollard some 300 yards from the ground and, with motorists behind getting exasperated at my unsuccessful attempts to start the car, I welcomed the help from six hefty samaritans who pushed the vehicle back across the road and into the entrance to the table tennis centre.
Fearful that the car would get locked in, my board room colleague Graham Slyper organised another strong armed team to push the car back up to the grass verge alonside the road.
I rang the AA - that's Automobile Association, not Alcoholics Anonymous --and was advised that help could not be provided until 2.50 p.m., ten minutes before kick-off.
As the game got under way, Graham and I stood on the grass verge trying to interpret from the roar of the Underhill crowd how things were going as the AA man went through a series of tests as he tried to identify the problem.
After an hour - around half time at Underhill - he told me he had no answers and I needed to be towed home.
I got back to Hendon as the third Barnet goal went in and I rang chairman Tony Kleanthous on the final whistle for a planned eulogy but, before I could get a word out, he told me: "You're banned".
Then came a trip to Port Vale, which I missed because of an evening engagement in London. The chairman, too, missed the 2-0 victory and, at the end, I e-mailed him to ask:"Are you banned too?"
But news of the fact that I had missed two victories as we recovered from the crest of a slump spread around Underhill like wildfire and manager Ian Hendon confirmed that my presence was not needed at matches and the players looked at me as if I was personally responsible for 10 consecutive away defeats.
This weekend I attended the home game against Bury and kept out of the way as I followed the BBC cameras filming a mini feature about the Underhill Experience. The chairman asked where I was during the game but I did not see him until well after the final whistle of a 0-0 draw.
"You can come to Crewe next week and watch the first half", said the chairman when I applied for the ban to be Footnote: Eric Cantona, the former Manchester United player who once jumped into the crowd at Crystal Palace and was convicted of assaulting a fan, was lucky he did not appear before Mrs S at Tottenham. She would have subjected him to an exclusion order from all football grounds rather than the community service order he received at Croydon Court.