Meet the referee: Mr. A.J. Barker (Hanley)

October 13, 1902
If there is a referee who covers ground quicker than any other, he is Mr. A.J. Barker. This is his own oft-expressed opinion, and he should know. Then too, he has an idea that he has covered as much ground as any other official by iron steed – at any rate, during the past seven years

Mr. A.J. Barker (Hanley).

Last month we find that to fulfil his engagements at Portsmouth, Reading, Bristol, Blackburn, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Bolton, and Derby he reached a total mileage approaching 1,700. His fleetness of foot is accounted for by the fact that he is in possession of 50 prizes gained on the track, most of them over the quarter, though he has also met with success at 100 yards, quarter hurdle, and a mile flat, so that, unlike most runners, he was fit for any race in the days of his youth.

A native of Hanley, he is still a resident of that town, and is a thorough “Potter.” It is scarcely necessary to add that he is an earnest football enthusiast. He was one of the organisers of the Newcastle Swifts, and for eight seasons wielded the secretarial pen. He was one of the leaders of the first League formed in Staffordshire – which, alas, enjoyed the existence of one season only – but he then founded the South Stafford and District League, and by acting as secretary for five seasons may be said to have launched it successfully.

He established the North Staffordshire referees’ Club, and has been the secretary for the past six years. He was also the first junior representative on the Staffordshire Football Association, and since his election in 1890 has only missed two meetings – once owing to the summons being miscarried, and again through a misunderstanding.

Other honorary appointments held by him locally are: –
* Treasurer of the North Staffordshire Half-Holiday League;
* Vice-president of the Hanley and District Association, and;
* Assistant hon. secretary of the Sentinel Charity Competition,
so that it may fairly be said he is a good friend to Staffordshire football.

He was never played International, ‘tis true, but he has rubbed shoulders with them, and one of his earliest club colleagues was W. Rowley, and later Alf Underwood, while one of his Newcastle protégés was Joe Turner, of Southampton.

It is mainly as a referee that he is known to the public during the last decade. He has controlled most of the fiercest local battles – such as Liverpool and Everton, Sunderland and Newcastle, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday, Bolton and Bury, Manchester City and Newton Heath, Bristol City and Bristol Rovers, Portsmouth and Southampton, Tottenham and Southampton, Aston Villa and Small Heath, Aston Villa and West Bromwich, and Stoke and Burslem, a list which forms conclusive evidence of the faith reposed in him by the controllers of the highest club football. We trust he will long retain that confidence, for good referees are scarce.
(Athletic News: October 13, 1902)


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