LAST week’s column bid premature farewell to Bootham Crescent, York City’s much-loved home for 87 years but knew – of course – that we’d be back.

The programme had devoted a page to City’s 7-0 win against Darlington, October 5 1985, Fred Barber the Quakers’ unfortunate goalkeeper.

Remember it? How could he possibly forget?

“The worst bit was that the Lord Mayor was a Darlington fan and had invited both teams for dinner and drinks back at the Mansion House after the game,” says Fred.

“I’d never let in seven before or since and all I wanted to do was go home and hide. You’re like an onion, you have to grow an extra layer.”

Darlington skipper Paul Ward, Trimdon lad, had been sent off for two bookable offences. Fred was cautioned for time wasting with his side three or four down. The ref, his memory suggests, was George Courtney.

“Can you imagine it? Three down and I’m supposed to be time wasting. The funny thing was that he wrote my name down as Paul Barber, who’s my brother and was a painter and decorator in Ferryhill.”

George, it must be said, flat denies any involvement. “It must have been my brother,” he says.

The Darlington team – those of a nervous disposition look away now – was Barber, Aldred, Ward, Tupling, Huntley (Haire), Carney, Roberts, Poskett, Airey, MacDonald, McLean.

In a third division including the likes of Cardiff City, Wolves and Bournemouth, Quakers’ fortunes subsequently improved – including a 6-0 home win against Swansea City just weeks later. They finished 13th.

WE’D last spoken on the phone to Fred Barber 12 years ago, he lying in the bath at Loggerheads – which, of course, is a village in Shropshire.

This time he’s again lying in the bath, and still at Loggerheads. “It’s like I never got out,” he says.

He was a Ferryhill lad, among 200 youngsters who turned up for trials at Feethams. Darlington finally agreed to give him a try in the reserves so long as he got a note from his teacher.

He made his first team debut in a 3-1 win over Stockport County, March 1983 – the crowd a miserable 1,012 – and had 135 Quakers appearances before lengthy spells with Walsall and Peterborough and shorter sojourns all over.

At Walsall he may best be remembered for wearing a Freddy Kruger mask, the result of a bet with striker David Kelly, an improbable piece of kit which had numerous further outings. Eventually it fell to bits – “too long in a sweaty glove bag.”

Pierre-Emrick Aubameyang’s masked bawl came much later.

Fred spent 15 years as a goalie coach at Bolton Wanderers, followed by a short spell at York as assistant to manager Nigel Worthington. One commuted from Loggerheads, the other from Norwich. It was many-a-mile too optimistic.

“Among the things I remember is that the groundsman didn’t have a tractor to pull the roller, he had a car,” says Fred. “The word was that he had to record the daily mileage, so he didn’t take the car home.”

He’s now self-employed as goalkeeping coach at Crewe, runs his own goalkeeping academy and will be heading a soccer school in America in the summer.

Jonathan, his 22-year-old son, is also a goalkeeper who had a scholarship at Hartlepool United – “four or five appearances on the bench” – and now himself wears multiple caps with Crewe.

He’s a qualified masseur, trainee physio, makes the academy breakfasts, helps with the coaching and videos first team games on Saturdays. “I’ll say this for him, he’s a grafter,” says his dad.

So is all this lying in the bath simply a means of soaking the rich? “I’m comfortable,” says the original man in the mask, perhaps pouring more palm oil. “My pension kicked in when I was 55, I’ve no longer a mortgage, we have nice holidays.”

He was even a question on Trivial Pursuit. “There was this guy in a green jersey, a knee brace and a Freddy Kruger mask. You were supposed to guess who it was.

“I’ve really done quite well out of being a goalkeeper, so long as folk don’t remember that blinking seven at York City.”