BARNSLEY’S loss to Ipswich at Wembley was one of the defining days in the Reds’ history, says John Dennis who was chairman at the time.
Whereas the Suffolk club would finish fifth in the Premiership in the 2000/01 season, the Oakwell outfit would drop into the third tier in 2002 and almost go out of business following the collapse of TV company ITV Digital.
Dennis, who had been involved in the club for several decades following on from his father Ernest and grandfather Arnold, had helped steer Barnsley to the Premiership in 1997 then would leave during the financial difficulties.
He said: “If ever there was a defining moment for the club, certainly in my time, that was the one.
“We had been in the Premiership two years previously then we had two years of parachute money. Inside the club, we knew that, if we didn’t get promoted in the Bassett season, we would face a very different scenario the following season. That proved to be the case.
“Ultimately the financial difficulties came because of the collapse of the television deal but, even then, we were managing the club in a different way to the glory days.
“If we had won at Wembley, maybe none of that would have happened but it’s all speculation.”
Dennis considered resigning on the way home from Wembley.
“I remember it was a very sombre bus journey back and I said to my wife: ‘the best thing I can do now is to step away.’ She said: ‘that’s not like you.’ I thought it felt different but, the next morning, I decided to stay at the club.
“Looking back now, leaving then wouldn’t have been a bad decision.”
Dennis has some fond memories of being at Wembley with Barnsley but says the result dominates his recollections.
“When you are involved on a professional basis, there is only one thing that counts. People talk about it being a wonderful occasion and I am sure it was but my memories are always clouded by the fact that we lost and, by that yardstick, we failed.
“I have never brought myself to watch a replay of it. I have seen a few highlights but watching the whole game back would give me a nervous breakdown even 20 years later.”