Volunteers raising money to bring football back to Barnes

Volunteers are raising money to relaunch Barnes FC, one of England’s oldest football clubs.

The team is being re-founded by a team of volunteers led by Ranko Davidov, 42, who are currently crowdfunding the costs needed to bring a senior team to Barnes for the first time in 30 years.

Barnes FC was originally formed in 1862 and were one of the teams to play in the inaugural FA Cup before being re-founded again several times during the 20th century before last going bust in the 1990s.

Davidov said: “I’m living a dream right now.

“It’s a very exciting period but there’s still a lot to go. We are still to go, with the team, to collect the remaining money.”

The fundraiser aims to raise £4,650 to generate the initial funds for a team to start competing in the 2022/23 season.

The project was recently boosted by a recent grant from Sport England, which has made a huge difference by improving the legitimacy of the project, in turn helping to bring in new sponsors.

A grant of £1,395 was awarded after a series of rigorous checks to ensure the club had taken the necessary steps to make the project viable, including how the club would generate income and how it would comply with Covid-19 protocols.

The project is also supported by Julie Burgess and Jan Kilsby, the granddaughters of Leslie Kilsby who was a key figure in the numerous iterations of Barnes FC in the 20th century.

Davidov admitted that support from the community has been slow to emerge but has been encouraged by the support of the granddaughters.

He said: “I think that’s why we are strong in backing the project because nobody can have more authority than them.

“When we have results, when people see that this is alive, that this is happening, and they see we are serious and that we are achieving what we promised, they will come.”

Burgess and Kilsby have been able to unearth several documents from the history of football in Barnes, including documents that show its re-founding in the 1940s and the involvement of notable figures such as Richard Attenborough.

It is through this that the re-formation of Barnes FC this time around has become a legacy project, leaning on its rich history.

Barnes were one of the founder members of the Football Association in 1863, with its founder Ebenezer Morley one of the key figures in its formation as well as taking part in the inaugural FA Cup.

Davidov hopes that the club will be able to partake in planned 150th anniversary activities alongside the other clubs who took part in the first-ever edition of England’s oldest cup competition.

HISTORY: There were several iterations of a football club in Barnes in the first half of the 20th century. Credit: Julie Burgess

The inspiration to set up the club came during the pandemic when Davidov became more acutely aware of the poor lifestyles of many young people, something which he hopes to promote through the new club.

It is part of the wider aims for a community-focused club that combines results on the pitch with an inclusive club for all, including future aims to include women’s teams and opportunities for people with disabilities.

It is in this vein that Davidov has sought to attract sponsors that match his aims around promoting healthy lifestyles, though this is something he admits can be difficult at this early stage.

Alongside the focus on the community aspect, Davidov is also very frank about the focus on good results, with an aim of becoming semi-pro within three to five years.

“We can’t say we don’t have the ambition to get back to where we were in terms of competition and results,” said Davidov.

Davidov, who works in finance, is originally from Serbia and first became enamoured with British football when managing Fulham on the Championship Manager game in the early 2000s.

He added: “I’m just manic about football and really England is the dream of all of us who are not from here.”

Featured Image Credit: Barnes FC

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