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Viva Wembley! Neil’s all shook up
The 28-year-old midfielder was left behind by his best friends and family members this week as they marked his marriage at the end of this month by hitting the Nevada desert casinos without him.
But Barrett is now hoping the Minstermen will prove the smartest bet in Sunday’s Blue Square Premier play-off final.
When looking for a five-night break to celebrate the end of his bachelor days last summer, Barrett and his brother decided to avoid a clash with last weekend’s FA Trophy and assumed the play-offs, whose dates had yet to be confirmed, would be wrapped up before then.
Taking up the story, the former Chelsea trainee said: “Around Christmas time, we found out the final would be on the 16th but, to be honest, it was a great dilemma to have.
“I’m delighted to be in the position of missing my stag do to play at Wembley because, from a professional point of view, these are the games you want to play in. I’m just hoping we can get the right result now.”
He added with a rueful smile: “I’ve heard Vegas isn’t that good anyway, so I’m not too disappointed.”
Barrett will get hitched in Leatherhead on May 29 all being well, as his fiancee’s pre-wedding plans have not run smoothly either.
“She missed her hen do in Mexico because of the volcanic dust,” Barrett explained, “I’ve told her that maybe it’s just not meant to be but she’s not of the same opinion.”
Barrett has no contingency plan for alternative stag do arrangements but was pleased his team-mates stepped in to ensure his forthcoming nuptials did not pass without a party.
“We all went out on the Tuesday night after the Luton game,” he said. “Some of the lads organised that for me, which was great, but that’s it now – I’ve just been concentrating on the game.”
Barrett, along with former Bristol Rovers play-off winner Chris Carruthers, knows how it feels to win at Wembley having been a member of the Ebbsfleet team that beat Torquay to lift the FA Trophy in 2008.
Players such as Michael Ingham, Ben Purkiss, David McGurk, Levi Mackin and Richard Brodie, meanwhile, all tasted defeat in last season’s final but Barrett feels winning and losing at the national stadium can give you an equal incentive if you are lucky enough to return there.
He added: “Wembley’s a fantastic stadium that everybody wants to play at and some very good players won’t get that opportunity. It was great to win there with Ebbsfleet because a lot of people didn’t give us a chance.
“A lot of our lads were also there last season and know what it’s like to lose so, hopefully, they won’t want to experience that again. You can get overawed a bit if it’s your first time and, to be honest, the Trophy final passed me by a bit so hopefully I can play a bit better this time.”
Having scored goals in matches at Premier League Stoke City and Blue Square Premier title favourites Luton Town this season, Barrett would also be pleased to prove once more that he is a man for the big occasion by hitting the target at Wembley before pointing out that personal glory is not his priority.
“I haven’t scored at Bootham Crescent this season so I’ve got more chance of scoring away from York,” he admitted. “I’d love to get a goal but, to quote the old cliché, as long as the team wins I don’t care who scores.”
Barrett last played in the Football League for Portsmouth in the Championship back in 2002.
He left Fratton Park for a spell in Scottish football with Livingston and Dundee and was disappointed to find his options limited on his return south of the border three years ago.
“Getting back in the League has been my goal ever since I came back to England but it’s been extremely difficult to get that chance,” he said.
“I got injured at a bad time and people don’t tend to realise what a good standard the Scottish Premier League. But, being one game away, is a fantastic opportunity and I’m sure all the lads who haven't played in the League for a while feel the same.”