Tommy Barber

Thomas Barber (1888-1925) was born on 20 February 1888 in West Stanley and died in Nuneaton on 18 September 1925. An intelligent and enterprising half-back, Barber spent most of his career at Bolton Wanderers and Aston Villa before the First World War, during which he served in the Footballers’ Battalion. Barber was forced to retire due to ill-health in 1925 and died soon after aged just 36.

Football Career

Barber began his career at local sides Shankhouse, West Stanley and Hamsterley before moving to Bolton Wanderers in 1907. Handed his debut on 17 October 1908, Barber would eventually play a total of 107 games for the Trotters before moving to Aston Villa in December 1912. He soon became a regular starter at Villa Park and went on to play 68 times for the club, bagging 10 goals. In 1913, Barber scored the winning goal in the FA Cup Final triumph over Sunderland at Crystal Palace, before playing his last official game for Villa in a 3-0 loss at Newcastle United on 28 April 1915.

Barber played for a number of clubs during the First World War, including Partick Thistle, Crystal Palace and Glasgow Celtic, and would also represent England in the Haig Hospital Fund International against Scotland at Celtic Park on 8 June 1918.

Following the Armistice, Barber had brief spells at Merthyr Town, Ton Pentre, Pontypridd and Walsall. In 1918 he also turned out for both Belfast Celtic and Linfield – a rare occurrence as the clubs were bitter rivals at a time of political unrest in Ireland. Barber would suffer recurring ill-health after the war and spent significant time in hospital. He was struck down with tuberculosis in 1925, which would eventually prove fatal. He died in Nuneaton on 18 September 1925 aged just 36.

First World War Service

Private F/852 Barber joined the 17th (Service) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment in February 1915 and was among those players permitted to return to their clubs at weekends to fulfil the remainder of the 1914/15 season fixtures. After spending time at Cranleigh in Surrey and Clipstone Camp near Mansfield, Barber moved to Perham Down with his battalion in August 1915 where they prepared for deployment overseas. The 17th Middlesex subsequently landed at the French port of Boulogne on 17 November 1915 and would experience its first taste of life in the trenches near the mining town of Loos.

The 17th Middlesex would then see action at Delville Wood and Waterlot Farm during the Somme offensive in the summer of 1916, when Barber sustained leg wounds and was evacuated to Britain. After undergoing treatment at a hospital in Aberdeen, Barber was transferred to the Labour Corps (311143) before undertaking munition work in Glasgow.





Season Club League Pos FA Cup   League Games League Goals FA Cup Games FA Cup Goals
1905/06 Shankhouse              
1906/07 West Stanley              
1907/08 Hamsterley              
1907/08 Bolton Wanderers 1st (Second Division) R1          
1908/09 Bolton Wanderers 1st (Second Division) R1   20 2    
1909/10 Bolton Wanderers 2oth (First Division) R1   15 1 1  
1910/11 Bolton Wanderers 2nd (Second Division) R1   17 5 1  
1911/12 Bolton Wanderers 4th (First Division) R3   38 4 3  
1912/13 Bolton Wanderers 8th (First Division) R1   12 2    
1912/13 Aston Villa 2nd (First Division) W   15 2 5 1
1913/14 Aston Villa 2nd (First Division) SF   28 4 5  
1914/15 Aston Villa 14th (First Division) R2   14 3 1  
1918/19 Belfast Celtic              
1918/19 Celtic  1st (Scottish League)     5      
1918/19 Partick Thistle              
1918/19 Linfield              
1918/19 Distillery              
1919/20 Stalybridge Celtic              
1919/20 Crystal Palace 3rd (S. League One)     20 7    
1920/21 Merthyr Town 8th (Third Division South) Q5   2      
1920/21 Ton Pentre              
1920/21 Pontypridd              
1921/22 Walsall 8th (Third Division South) R1   5 2 1  
1922/23 Darlaston              
1923/24 Hinckley United              
1924/25 Barwell              
  Aston Villa       57 9 11 1
  Bolton Wanderers       102 14 5  
  Celtic       5      
  Crystal Palace       20 7    
  Merthyr Town       2      
  Walsall       5 2 1  
  Totals       191  32  17 


A full list of sources used to create this page can be found here.