Obituary: Former Portsmouth and Hampshire player Mike Barnard

Former Pompey and Hampshire player Mike Barnard
Former Pompey and Hampshire player Mike Barnard
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Former Pompey and Hampshire cricketer Mike Barnard has passed away at the age of 85.

Born in Portsmouth in 1933, the former Portsmouth Grammar Schoolboy was an all-round sportsman and represented both his home town and county in the sports he loved – football and cricket.

He made his Hampshire debut as a 19-year-old right-handed batsman in 1952 and went on to make 276 first-class appearances, helping Hants to their maiden County Championship title in 1961.

In 1953, Barnard made his Pompey debut in a 1-1 draw against Tottenham.

That led to a six-season association with the Fratton Park outfit, with the former Gosport Borough player racking up 123 appearances and 26 goals for the club.

The creative inside forward, whose football and cricket commitments often overlapped – he would miss pre-season training with the Blues and be absent for the close Hampshire’s season  – departed Pompey at the end of the 1958-59 season.

He signed for Chelmsford, but the aim was to concentrate on his cricket – a career he extended until his retirement in 1966.

In 1969, a serious coach crash robbed him of much mobility.

After Barnard recovered somewhat, he coached at the School of Navigation in Warsash, was a regular commentator with BBC Radio Solent, and for the Southampton Hospitals.

He also took up bowls, worked on drug testing with the sports council, organised the reunions of Pompey’s footballers and Hampshire’s cricketers, and bore his injuries with incredible fortitude and cheerfulness.

In a statement from his son John, Mike was described as a ‘truly great example of humanity’.

‘With great sadness, the Barnard family announce the loss of our beloved  Father, Mike ‘Barney’ Barnard,’ the statement reads.

‘Mike was a renowned all-round sportsman, perhaps even the last of those who made significant appearances in the top echelons of professional cricket and football.

‘He was also a truly great example of humanity to everyone who knew him.

‘Mike was involved in a major RTA nearly 50 years ago which left him horribly  and permanently injured.

‘Most people would have been left with mental scars to match their physical injuries.

‘In Mike’s case he used his athleticism and will do attitude not only to fight his way back to his feet but to achieve  so much as a husband, father, teacher and sports commentator.

‘He never bemoaned his misfortune or muttered a word of his constant pain. 

‘Instead he adopted a permanently positive attitude and searched for the best  in every situation.

‘It wasn’t until later in life that his children realised that he lived his life by the Rudyard Kipling poem “IF”.

‘As a family, the Barnards will all miss him very much, as will his many  friends and admirers.

He never gave up and even at the end he thought he  could still play for the draw!

‘Mike Barnard was not just a man but a giant of a man, and someone who today’s overpaid “superstar” sportsmen could learn a lot from.’