Life and times of Man City stalwart Ken Barnes, who has died at 81 - Manchester City FC

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Ken Barnes w Roy Little and Bert
Season 2010/11

Ken Barnes: Life and times of a City legend

  • 14 July 2010 13:12
  • Posted by Lloyd Scragg

Ken Barnes, who has died aged 81, devoted his playing career and much of the rest of his working life to Manchester City, an incredible total of 46 years.

He joined The Blues on May 6, 1950 for £750. It took him several years to break into the first team, managing to make his debut against Derby in January 1952 - his only senior appearance during his first four years.

However, in the 1953-54 season he became an integral player for the Reserves playing in what was called the ‘attacking half-back’ position, now recognised as an attacking midfielder.

Ken broke into the City side that reached the FA Cup final, losing 3-1 to Newcastle. The Blues were back at Wembley the following season for a final widely remembered for the heroics by goalkeeper Bert Trautmann. Barnes played a key part also with a hand in  City’s second goal in their 3-1 win over Birmingham.

By the time the late Fifties arrived, he was regarded as one of the senior players and succeeded Roy Paul as skipper in 1957. He became only the third player to score a hat-trick of penalties in an English top-flight match in a 6-2 thrashing of Everton.

Ken scored 11 goals in the 1957-58 season and became a strong influence on the younger players at the club, in particular Denis Law, who joined in 1960 and shared a great friendship with Barnes.

Unfortunately, he never pulled on the "Three Lions" shirt and was saluted by Denis Law as the “the best uncapped wing-half ever to have played in English football.” The closest he came was being named as a reserve against Wales in 1957.

Ken is remembered as a great character, a dressing-room practical joker known as "Beaky" to his team-mates. He played 283 games in all competitions, scoring 19 goals in the process.
Barnes’ City connection was re-ignited when he returned to join the coaching staff. When Malcolm Allison left the club in 1973, he was offered the role of caretaker manager which he declined, instead becoming assistant to Johnny Hart, whose stint as manager was cut short by illness seven months into the job.

He was then appointed chief scout, a role he held for two decades before leaving in 1991. He over-saw the development of many of City’s successful youngsters including Paul Lake, David White and Steve Redmond, whose side won the FA Youth Cup in 1986.

Ken returned in 1994 for his final spell at the club at the invitation of Francis Lee,  becoming a part-time scout for a further six years. He was inducted into City’s Hall of Fame in 2004. He is pictured with Bert Trautmann.

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