First and foremost, let me start off by saying that I’m a stats guy. It truly matters to me whether someone played in 4 games or 5 in 1983, and whether the attendance at that game was 4,382 or 4,283. And that’s why when researching statistics about my small local team, it was shocking to come across a player that no one seemed to talk about anymore. This is the story of Matthew Barnes-Homer. I don’t write this to ruin a career or lay out accusations. Originally, I was going to give the benefit of the doubt and not name the player, however I feel like I have enough reason to believe it’s warranted.
The Rochester Rhinos have a good history. However, after new owners and a hiatus of 4 years, their historical statistics just no longer existed. I felt it was up to me to dig in and spend dozens of hours so that they weren’t lost forever. That’s when I came across a player who wasn’t just good, he was great. And here’s the thing: he just came out of nowhere and vanished. We’ve had some good players over the years, but if someone scores 10 goals in a season, that’s a special feat that didn’t happen too often. Then there was Matthew Barnes-Homer, who Wikipedia
stated scored 20 goals in 25 games for us in 2004. It’s not only that, he then played for two more American teams that year, scoring 29 goals in 20 games for Syracuse, and 19 in 10 games for Virginia Beach, before finishing the year at Aldershot with 10 goals in 10 games. That’s a hell of a year. We all know Wikipedia isn’t the most reliable resource, but there are multiple websites that cite his time in the United States. There’s even an article in The Guardian about him where he states "Yeah, years ago when I left Wolves [where it’s stated he spent his youth career], I played there in the A-league for a few teams so it was good experience for me – the agent I had at the time got me the move over." Just remember this statement and this “agent”.
So what does the research turn up? Well, in the multiple books I have from that period on Rochester’s statistics, his brief and amazing career is never mentioned. Going through game results it’s never once covered in the newspapers or blogs that he had scored a goal for us. Going through and tallying all the results there are not any unaccounted-for goals, much less 20. Well, it could have been a mistake, someone once had the wrong player or the wrong team. But what about those other two American teams that were played for? It appears he did play for Syracuse, but 29 goals in 10 games is far from the official tally from the league’s website of 1 goal in 10 games. Still, that could have been a typo adding a zero, but it wasn’t a surprise that he never played a minute for Virginia Beach. It got harder to verify Aldershot, but as there wasn’t a “credited” high-scoring number of goals it didn’t bother me, and by the 2005 season they definitely did not list him as a player.
Rather than review every team, I felt there were some easier ones to verify. A loan to Luton Town did happen in 2009, however it was definitely not 15 goals in 10 games, but a still respectable 4 goals in 8 games. There’s a supposed spell at Kidderminster from 2007-2010. During that time was the 2009 spell to Luton. According to Kidderminster’s website in November of 2009, where his stats supposedly are 45 goals in 98 games, he had by
that point played in 83 games for the club. And he had 27 goals over those 3 seasons of appearances. While it is conceivable by the time his tenure with the club ended at the end of the 2009-10 season he had the goals tally that is claimed, it’s highly suspicious based on prior research that the season ended with 15 more goals in 18 games. He then went back to Luton from 2010 to 2012. This spell was to be one of the greatest that was played according to the Wikipedia page. While I am not confident in my facts at this time, as we know Wikipedia cannot be relied upon, it also includes the most outlandish statistics claims. And for once, it does seem to be correct. The 2010-11 season at Luton it appeared he
was their top scorer. It would appear he scored 28 goals over this spell; not the 40 that are claimed, but these are still good numbers. The thing that I find strange is that these numbers are so inflated. It’s not like he was a poor player, it’s just constantly making everything bigger. After bouncing around to seemingly two dozen teams over the years, he returned to where it all started in 2016, going back to American with the Wilmington Hammerheads. I can’t find exact stats, and it does appear he played here, however his “credited” 15 goals are certainly not accurate, as the tenth top scorer in the league only had 11 goals, and he’s not credited on that top 10 list.
Why does this all matter? Why am I picking on someone playing in the seventh tier of English football? The fact is, it really doesn’t matter. It’s the playing on the field that really matters, and from what I can see, he’s been a good player. The problem is the long time pattern of fraud. What began as research into my local club, ended up with sending a couple requests through social media to get an answer to this. And I was ignored when I tried to get his side of the story. And that’s where it ends, right? Well, the good thing about RNYFC briefly having Jamie Vardy as a co-owner meant that we also had British supporters. As a joke, we asked one if he knew Matthew Barnes-Homer and could ask him about this. We laughed as we waited for a response from our fellow supporter 3,000 miles away. As it turned out, he was actually going to a Bromsgrove Sporting match that weekend. So he got to ask face to face. As it turns out, it was based on fraud, however he still didn’t own up to it. It was sorta deflected, then blamed on his agent for fudging a few stats. But can we take his word for it, and just update Wikipedia to remove the stats we know aren’t accurate? Well, we tried that. And every edit was reverted back to what it was, and finally we were Globally Blocked from updating the page.
But there was one last update. If you edit anything in Wikipedia, it stores that edit. If you were do it while you are logged in, it saves not only your changes, but also the username of the person who changed it. Here’s where things get interesting. Viewing all the changes to add these fake statistics, who was doing it? Well, the username was Ballerbarnes9. And what was the justification for these edits? We had justifications like “I'm Matthew Barnes homer so stop going on my page I know what's right not you” and “You stop going on my page I'm Barnes homer”. I finally believe something that he has said, as I believe this was actually him, and he was the one who made all these fake changes. After over a decade of trying to figure out the answer, we finally have it.
If you go on YouTube, there’s actually a surprising amount of goals and compilations of his gameplay. And here’s the thing: he’s actually good, like really good. From what I can gather, he’s been a great, unknown lower league player who definitely has skills. While most of the online videos are pretty poor quality, shot with cell phones or apparently taken from low quality old internet videos, the quality of the play is undeniable. There are some really good goals in these compilations. So while I don’t approve of what appears to me to be fraud, I can respect the actual quality of play. And some day I would actually like to watch him play.
While the lies have gone deep about actual statistics, and I don’t at all believe it was his agent, I do believe the reason was to start his career and pad his stats to look better to prospective teams. I’m just not sure why in this internet age someone can’t just come clean and correct it, in the face of overwhelming evidence. Thankfully, we have our team’s statistics accurately calculated. And they do not include Matthew Barnes-Homer.