A Barnet view on potential Swindon signing Adam Birchall
As you would’ve seen on potential Swindon Town signing Adam Birchall’s factfile yesterday he represented Barnet for 3 seasons from 2006 to 2009, scoring 26 goals in 116 appearances. So whilst I’m still hunting for a Dover Athletic view, Barnet supporter Lucy Waldon of Look Black ‘n’ Amber gives an insight on Adam’s time at Underhill and why he drifted out of the Football League.
What type of striker is he, and what could Swindon expect from Adam Birchall?
Adam’s an industrious striker, who always puts 110% in. But unfortunately for him, he played in a pretty bad Barnet squad and his end product was never there – he was often played in a 4-5-1 formation with long balls punted up to him. He’d fare a lot better with a strike partner with height and strength; scoring from tap-ins. Work rate wise though, he’s spot on, and never stops running. He’s a ‘right place at the right time’ kind of player – although unfortunately with the Bees, his final product wasn’t there.
Does Adam have any particular strengths or weaknesses in his playing ability or mentality?
Obviously, he’s quite short so height would be a potential weakness; however despite this, he’s strength is a positive and against a towering defender he could easily win a lot of set plays. Again his work rate and constant hardworking mentality could be seen as a positive; however, if the goals aren’t there, frustration could be a factor (for both fans and him alike). He also has great technique and is comfortable receiving the ball and keeping possession, as well as beating players with either foot.
On joining Barnet on loan back in 2006/07 from Mansfield he reignited his flagging career and secured a permanent deal, what made the difference for him?
I think initially the fact that Paul Fairclough took a chance on him, brought him in and gave him a chance. He was liked amongst fans for his hard work, which also became a large factor – as well as chasing lost causes. Although initially he began well, frustration became an issue when he wasn’t playing regularly and was often on the bench – particularly when the club bought John O’Flynn.
How did Adam progress during his three years at Underhill?
A lot of hype and expectation was there when he arrived – being ex Arsenal youth. To be honest, I don’t think he progressed that much – only two League goals in his final season with the club says it all really. His goal ratio was possibly one of the main reasons why he was eventually released. Although he was a hit with fans, I think it’s safe to say the majority of us believed he’d fare a lot better in Non-League football. Many hoped he could become a more regular scorer at Barnet, the 20 goal a season type player every club wants. Unfortunately he wasn’t.
On a completely different note, he was the player behind the ‘respect the ref’ idea, whereby only the captain has the right to get involved with refereeing decisions. I think a drop to Non-League has done him the world of good though, and I’m sure he’ll come back passionate and fighting to prove a point to the doubters. He even left the Bees saying he was “fed up with football” – so I think it’s good he’s stuck with it!
Was Adam involved in any memorable games / goals?
His first goal came whilst on loan from Mansfield and was in a 4-1 win against Northampton Town in the second round of the FA Cup. He also scored a late equaliser against Swindon in the third round of the same competition, forcing a replay (which the Bees went on to win 2-0 on penalties).
When Adam left Barnet at the end of the 2008/09 season he couldn’t secure himself a Football League deal and dropped down two divisions to Dover in the Conference South. Did you believe he’d get another crack at League football?
I think he’s thoroughly proved with Dover this last season that he could possibly make the step up to the Football League. However, scoring 45 goals with a team in the Blue Square South is totally different to scoring regularly in a League 2 side. As is the case with many of our former players – they often play a lot better with their second crack at League football (for example Anthony Charles at Aldershot and Louie Soares at Aldershot, and then Southend). I don’t think he’d play regularly at Swindon, which could put him out of favour with fans, but I (like the rest of Bees fans) wish him all the best!
You can follow Lucy on Twitter @Lucy_BFC
* Header photo from givemefootball.com