In defence of Richie Barker

On Wednesday the Crawley News revealed that their sports reporter Kaylee Seckington had been banned from interviewing Crawley Town staff and players, saying that manager Richie Barker ‘was unhappy with two headlines in our March 13th edition’.

The Reds boss has come under a lot of criticism with many stating his reaction was over the top and that his reactions reeked of arrogance and the inevitable ‘who does he think he is, Fergie?’ comments.

Some of that I would agree with. Banning a journalist when it’s not even their headline (or headlines) is harsh but I think it would do some good to look at it from Barker’s perspective, instead of slating a manager who is still learning – and has been in management for roughly two years – for something which has now been completely blown out of proportion.

The headlines in question were ‘We Must Show More Ambition’ in quotes, when the actual quote was ‘I know I have ambition, I hope the club have ambition too, that is the reason I came here’ and ‘Crawley won’t resort to lumping it like Evans did’ which paraphrased “Sometimes you have just got to put the ball in the box, but put it in with quality don’t lump it. They have had three years of watching that here, they don’t want to watch it anymore, surely?”

If I was Richie Barker I think I would be a little annoyed, firstly at being misquoted and secondly, having a quote completely taken out of context. In the first case it could easily be taken that he is criticising the club and the second that he is criticising a former employee of the club who is now manager of another club. Now I’ll admit that I didn’t think much of either headline when I saw the paper that day but if I’m honest I only skim through the sports section anyway, but if the paper continued to misquote and take out of context what he’s said I don’t blame him for wanting to put a stop to it.

What if he said something about his own contract like “I don’t know, it runs out at the end of the season and that’s all there is to say. I’m yet to talk to the board about extending it but I would like to” and the headline was ‘Barker doubts his future at Crawley.’ That could have potentially very severe consequences, so you can see where he’s coming from.

On the same line, he has to think about the damage that could be done to his reputation or image if the Crawley News continued to misquote him and paraphrase him in the way they have done. He’s only been in management for two years and if a future employer was to look at headlines about Barker, it could have consequences for any future job aspirations.

Something that did amuse but at the same time irritate me was that the paper ran a poll next to their article about the situation, asking readers “Has Crawley Town manager Richie Barker done a good job this season: Yes (28%) No (73%)” (which adds up to 101% – not sure how that works.)

The answer is yes, he’s done an excellent job, but of course a frustrating lack of wins recently and the fact we could have made the playoffs this season has led many fans to believe that he is a poor manager. The fact the poll is next to a negative article about Barker doesn’t help, and laughably the poll is nowhere to be found on the website other than there. I wonder why?

I’m not saying Barker was right to ban the journalist, not at all, but the Crawley News surely have to consider his point and instead of inciting fans against the manager, intentionally or not, surely it would have been better to deal with it in private? Instead the whole incident has been blown out of proportion and I get the feeling that a lot of fans who were previously content with Barker as manager will now turn against him, especially if the situation escalates. And that wouldn’t be fair, not for the players who would be affected by the negativity at games nor Barker who I believe is doing a great job.

I genuinely think some fans thought we would be getting automatic promotion again, but as I’ve said previously consolidation was the aim at the start of the season and despite our play-off hopes, that always was the aim, so to say he’s doing a bad job is as far from the truth as you can get.

But fans will always be fickle, and it doesn’t take much for some fans to change their opinion. For example, many were on the back of Jamie Proctor after a goalless first few games for the club, but a few weeks later he scored a brace against Crewe to give us our first home win since New Years Day and the crowd were chanting his name. He missed a good chance against Shrewsbury on Easter Monday, and of course he’s gone back to being good for nothing, lazy, and useless, among other things I probably shouldn’t repeat on here, despite scoring five goals in seven games during March.

The fickle nature of fans means that sadly this incident will probably overshadow what’s been a good season for Crawley Town, but on the other hand all will be forgiven if we make the playoffs next year.

Written by Louie Elmer, We Are Going Up’s Crawley Town blogger

Louie tweets at @louie_j_e

One Comment

  • Ben says:

    I don’t think anyone is vindicating Barker, and that’s certainly not the paper’s angle. The paper are standing up for their reporter who has been banned for the second time, for let’s be honest, pretty weak reasons.

    Glazing over the fact that the subs do the headlines, not the reporters, headlines have to be short and snappy, and given the quotes I don’t see the issue. In the case of ‘lump-football’, the paper are paraphrasing ‘the past three years’ as Steve Evans, cause guess what, he was the manager during that period. It’s a simple condensing of words, but the football club have made a bad decision. They’re a League One club. League One. Forget all the glitz and glamour that accompanies football these days, the club should be welcoming the local media with open arms.

    I understand that there has to be boundaries, but in this case it’s incredibly petty. The local media form a basis where fans can read news that hasn’t been spun by the football club’s department, and has an impartial but supportive focus to it. The paper are on the same side as Crawley, merely doing their job. The whole thing is a farce, but credit to the paper for sticking up for their reporter. Doubt they’d ban Sky Sports for those kind of headlines. Fickle indeed.

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