The first in our life after the Blades series…
Over the years, a number of players have been in the player`s entrance at Bramall Lane. Some became instant heroes, few still have their names sung at S2 today, but for the majority, life after the Blades usually consisted of the not so glamorous side of professional football.
The Promotion winning side of 2005/06 featured household names throughout the side. Neil Shipperley, Craig Short, David Unsworth and Paul Ifill to name a few. All playing a key role in the Blades rise to the Premiership.
However, for reserve goalkeeper Phil Barnes, it was a season of bench warming and the odd cup outing. Following his signature from Blackpool in 2004, Sheffield born Barnes knew that he would have to produce something special to oust United number one Paddy Kenny.
Unfortunately, like his predecessor Kristian Rogers, and successor Ian Bennett, Barnes was unable to force his way into contention. The main reason being his poor distribution which hampered him at times. Barnes` last appearance for the Blades was in the FA Cup 3rd round tie at home to Colchester United. The Blades lost the game 2-1 to the League 1 side, which included ex Blades Aidan Davison and Greg Halford.
Loan spells at Torquay United and Queens Park Rangers saw Barnes make six appearances, but no permanent move materialised, and following the Blades promotion to the Premiership in 2006, the goalkeeper joined Grimsby Town to replace Town hero Steve Mildenhall. It was a slow start for Barnes, when his confidence and distribution were questioned once again, but the 27 year old shunned the criticism and went on to win the Player of the Season award 2007/08.
Following his release by Town in 2009, Barnes joined big spending Conference North team Gainsborough Trinity, who have confirmed that he will be staying with them for the upcoming season. Barnes will be playing alongside Colin Marrison with whom he played alongside excessively in the Blades reserve team, and other ex United players Ryan Mallon, Adam Burley and star striker Luke Beckett.
So, perhaps not the most glamorous list of clubs for Barnes. Five appearances in total for the Blades, four of which were in the cup and the majority of his professional career in the fourth division, but he will always be remembered by Grimsby fans for his man of the match performance at Wembley against MK Dons in the Johnstone Paint Trophy final.
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