Nearly eight and a half years ago a footballing superstar walked through the doors at Underhill, the former home of Barnet FC, a man who had won things at the top level in the game from league titles to the Champions League and here he was about to appear for the side bottom of League Two and without a win in the first eleven games.
Edgar Davids is a world renowned name across the football globe, yes that Edgar Davids of Barcelona, Juventus, Ajax and Barcelona fame! I remember waking up on I think it was a Friday morning and my phone went mad, messages galore that Edgar Davids was the new joint head coach of Barnet!
The fact I knew Davids had been seen around The Hive in the weeks before the announcement meant it hadn’t come as a huge surprise to me like it had across the footballing world, what was slightly more surprising was Mark Robson forming the other half of this dynamic duo, although that was to be a short-lived arrangement with Robson leaving the club just over two months after the Dutchman had walked through the door.
The club were so far adrift at the foot of the table that relegation to the National League looked the only possibility for the remainder of the season and why did Davids want to be associated with that? A chance to be a hero? Increase the size of an undoubted ego? Or just want to help his local club? All three maybe? You decide.
The impact was instant, Davids inspiring a 4-0 win over Northampton at Underhill for the Bees first win of the season. In fact Davids was able to get the team playing good passing football and took the season to the final game, something that was not even in the thinking at all when he arrived at the club, to be honest the Bees had no right after that start to head to Northampton on the final day knowing a win would keep them up.
Ultimately, that start was to cost them a trip back to the then named Skrill Premier, many believing had Davids arrived earlier safety in League Two would have beckoned. And now the fun and games were just beginning!
The team were still pinging the ball around like Dutch nationals and no disrespect to the players, Davids was getting this out of League Two/Conference League players, but the man himself was beginning to attract ‘sit up and look’ publicity but not for the best reasons.
Grabbing the number one shirt for himself instead of keeper Graham Stack prompted much talk of ego-massaging, an agreement not to attend games in the far north with the club smacked really of total unprofessionalism. The flip side of the coin is the club was constantly in the news, not for the best reasons but reasons to be in print, similar to Martin Allen’s many times in charge of the club although those column inches were more favourable if a little obscure at times.
Performances dipped on the pitch and with three red cards in five matches, you felt Davids wasn’t getting the best out of the situation and neither were the club, so it wasn’t so much of a surprise that the two mutually parted company in January 2014 with the Bees 10th in the table.
However you look at it, this sort of thing doesn’t happen at every club, someone as big in name and stature managed little old Barnet and made his mark good and bad in the history, and credit to Edgar for being in the crowd when the Bees won promotion back to the Football League under Martin Allen in 2014-15.
I was lucky enough to sponsor Edgar during that relegation season (well I did a deal with Tony – it can be done – as John Antoniou can testify to) absolute nice guy to talk to and never turned down a photo or an autograph, I very much doubt something of this magnitude I will ever see again at Barnet, a once in a lifetime thing, but yes Edgar Davids did manage the mighty Bees……