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Clyde In The Cumbernauld News - 12 June 2002

By Bob McPherson
Wed, 12th Jun 2002 12:00am

Barry Fry is one of these people who seems to be famous for being famous, a high profile football manager with just two trophies to his name - the 1995 Auto Windscreens Shield and the 1994/95 Second Division championship - both of which he won during thirty hectic months with Birmingham City.

The irrepressible Fry moved to the St. Andrews club from Southend United in December 1993 and the existing Blues playing staff, whose struggling performances in the League had led to Fry’s appointment, were forced to make an early impression on the new boss as they quickly became aware of his intention to buy half his old team for his new club! The moves nearly worked but Birmingham were relegated on goal difference, despite Fry’s re-shaped team being undefeated in their last seven games of the season.

Down in Division Two Birmingham may have been the biggest club, and Fry kept wheeling and dealing in the transfer market, but by Christmas 1994 they looked like a team which would struggle to gain promotion. It is now generally recognised that it was Fry’s confident public utterances, his seemingly inexhaustible enthusiasm, which underpinned a run of great run of results and Birmingham City grabbed the Second Division title on the final day of the season.

It was also the season of Fry’s Wembley ‘Windscreens’ triumph. He had shown at his two earlier clubs, where money was much tighter, by winning 45 out of 90 games at Barnet and 15 out of 30 matches with Southend, that he had some managerial talent but he continued to be associated with buying and selling and this reputation was hardly diminished when it was revealed that by the 1995 transfer deadline day he had been involved in an incredible 113 different transfer deals in just seventeen months with Birmingham - and he continually referred to his wife as ‘my best signing’!

The introduction this season of transfer ‘windows’ will be the straightjacket which will finally restrain ‘colourful’ characters like Barry Fry and other habitual cheque-writing managers. There will be no transfers between 31 August and the beginning of January 2003 when another transfer ‘window’ will open for just a month. Managers will have to get it right first time, and do this against a backdrop of considerably reduced playing squads.

For Clyde’s Alan Kernaghan the new system won’t make much difference. Clyde don’t have, and have never had, sufficient cash available to go out and buy star players let alone assemble a team. Clyde’s recent steady progress has been based on careful buys and a belief that the Club’s youth policy will eventually produce Clyde’s own star players. Alan Kernaghan remains calm about the new regime - Clyde will be OK he says - I wonder how the longest-serving manager of Peterborough United, a certain Barry Fry, will cope?