Glory days on way back for Barnsley, says Dickie Bird

Dickie Bird, right, with Oxford fan Jack Brooks
Dickie Bird, right, with Oxford fan Jack Brooks
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Barnsley-born cricket legend Dickie Bird reckons the Reds are on the right path for a return to the glory days.

The famous umpire, 82, still lives in the town and has been attending matches at Oakwell for 78 years.

Paul Heckingbottom’s side have turned their season around since the new year, breaking into the top six for the first time this season after Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Walsall.

And Bird is convinced the current crop of players have what it takes to earn promotion to the second tier, and thinks caretaker boss Heckingbottom should be put in charge on a permanent basis.

“I would give Heckingbottom the job no doubt about that,” said Bird, Yorkshire CCC’s president.

“Why don’t they give it to him and get it done with? I would, because since he came in he’s done a marvellous job.

“I think it’s a tremendous run of form, and we could definitely get back into the Championship.”

One of the town’s favourite sons, Bird has been awarded the Freedom of Barnsley and a life-sized statue of the characterful cricketing legend was erected in 2009.

Bird has seen plenty of highs and lows in his 78-year love affair with the Reds, and would love to witness a return to the upper echelons of English football.

“I don’t have to think very long about my biggest highlight as a Barnsley fan,” he added.

“It’s when we went in the Premier League.

“If we got promoted back to the Championship there would be great days at Oakwell. It would be the pinnacle of the season, to do that would be marvellous.

“We’ve got the best supporters in the world and they would really go to town. We’d get 20,000 there every week.”