Old boys want to spoil reunion

Richie Barker
Richie Barker
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BOTH the men trying to plot Wednesday’s downfall at Gigg Lane grew up as Wednesdayites.

Manager Richie Barker and his assistant Peter Shirtliff still have a soft spot for the Owls - but not tonight of course.

Peter Shirtliff

Peter Shirtliff

They will be aiming to help the Shakers to become the latest relatively small club to upset Hillsborough plans after Bournemouth’s win on Saturday.

Shirtliff says that Wednesday are no exception to the rule that League One will be tough for everybody - as was suggested when newly-promoted Bury lost 2-0 at home to Carlisle on Saturday.

“We didn’t play very well on Saturday and the goals we conceded were poor,” he told The Star.

“This division isn’t going to be easy for anybody. It’s a very tough league. Teams are capable of beating each other, but the more consistent ones are the ones who have the budgets, because they can do something about it they get a problem.

“For teams going to Hillsborough, it’s going to be a big occasion, and it will be a good atmosphere for our game against Wednesdsay; it will be a good one for the fans and one to look forward to.”

Shirtliff, aged 50, started 356 games for the Owls and made three appearances as a sub - a record built up over two spells with them.

A Barnsley lad and a centre half, he came through the youth system to become a member of Jack Charlton’s team, he experienced promotion again, under Howard Wilkinson, and was in the Ron Atkinson side that won the the League Cup. A broken arm cost him a place in the four Wembley matches under Trevor Francis.

“Wednesday’s is the first result I look for,” he says. “It’s a bit disappointing to see them in this division.

“They are Richie Barker’s favourite other club as well.

“He grew up supporting Wednesday and they have a place in his heart.

“He’s looking forward to the game. It’s going to be a good one, an interesting situation, the first one he’s experienced like this.”

Shirtliff was manager of Mansfield when they played a pre-season friendly against the Owls a few years ago.

He was Danny Wilson’s assistant at Swindon until both left early this year, and he joined Bury in the summer.

Barker, aged 36, was born in Sheffield and was signed by Wednesday as an apprentice striker in 1991.

He started only one senior game and had one outing as a sub but went on to have a successful career in the lower divisions, including a promotion-winning spell at Rotherham.

He was youth coach at Bury and became caretaker manager in April after Alan Knill left for Scunthorpe with eight games to go.

A run of six successive wins and the clinching of promotion earned Barker a full appointment as boss. He was also League Two Manager of the Month for April.

Bury made a fine start to the season by drawing 1-1 at Huddersfield and beating Coventry 3-1 at home in the Carling Cup.