Farewell Mike Barnard '“ One of Portsmouth's greatest all-round sportsmen

Mike Barnard was quiet, unassuming and arguably the greatest all-round sportsman Portsmouth has produced.

Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 5:25 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:20 am
Mike Barnard, far left, pictured with Pompey team-mates including Jimmy Dickinson and Ron Saunders

A Division One footballer with Pompey, a title-winning cricketer with Hampshire, he also represented Hampshire schools at rugby.

Barnard, whose passing was today announced, took his place among Dennis Compton, Arthur Milton, Derek Ufton, Stuart Leary and Willie Watson in combining footballing and cricketing careers.

However, the former Portsmouth Grammar School pupil was unique in that, professionally, he played only for the football club and cricket county of his birth.

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The fact he appeared 123 times for Pompey, scoring 26 goals, and in 276 first-class matches for Hampshire was a source of immense pride for a man of great modesty.

Spotted by the Blues while playing for Gosport, Barnard signed for his home-town club in August 1951 at the age of 18 '“ yet was already on the books of Hampshire.

The inside forward made his debut in a Fratton Park 1-1 draw with Spurs on Boxing Day 1953.

Eddie Lever's side featured Jimmy Dickinson, Len Phillips, Duggie Reid, Peter Harris and Johnny Gordon, yet it was the lad from Portsea who caught the eye.

The Football Mail that night wrote: '˜Although Harris was undoubtedly the danger man, as far as the Pompey attack was concerned, and Phillips the genius behind many Pompey moves '“ give a pat on the back, too, to Michael Barnard. He looked the most promising prospect so far tried at inside-left this season'.

The following campaign he featured 31 times, scoring five goals, as the Blues finished third in Division One. Frustratingly, Lever's men had been top beyond Christmas, yet ended with one win in seven.

In terms of cricket, Barnard made his first-class debut against Glamorgan in July 1952.

The third day of the match coincided with his 19th birthday, yet he ended the game with four, nought and three wicketless overs, although did claim a catch.

When the right-handed batsman retired from county cricket in 1965, he had amassed 9,314 runs.

It was in August 1961 when Hampshire side claimed the maiden County Championship, with Barnard a key performer.

Speaking in 2015 during an interview for Played Up Pompey, Barnard recalled: '˜We were led by an extraordinarily likeable fellow called Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie.

'˜Typical of Colin, when he died in March 2006 I attended his funeral and there were four horses pulling a carriage containing his coffin outside Lord's cricket ground followed by all the dignitaries you could think of from London and the Home Counties.

'˜He was a good captain and sometimes declared an innings while we were batting leaving you thinking 'No, why have you done that?' and he would say 'Good odds, so declare'.

'˜That was just the way he was, very talented, an excellent after-dinner speaker, very keen on the horses and bet every day. He was also one of the last people to see Lord Lucan alive, being friends.'

When that title win arrived, Barnard had already quit professional football at the age of 25 to focus on cricket, joining Southern League side Chelmsford City, who matched his Pompey weekly wage of £20 a week.

Managed by former Blues team-mate Harry Ferrier, he would interrupt his honeymoon to play at home against Gravesend & Northfleet, netting four times in a 7-1 win.

In retirement, Barnard was a regular at Northlands Road and then the Rose Bowl, representing BBC Radio Solent in tandem with John Hughes, before later working for hospital radio.

Barnard's family today announced his passing, at the age of 85.