Tropical Jamaica seemed another planet away when the family arrived in England on 26 January 1976 after his father had been hired as Jamaica’s military attaché in London. "I had never seen snow before," as John revealed in his autobiography. Within a week he had found a football club, Stowe Boys Club. At home in Kingston Barnes was used to play in the middle or up front, but everybody in the Stowe team wanted to attack and couldn't care less about defensive duties. Barnes spent the next three and a half years with Stowe at centre-half as well as captaining the side. He got an early opportunity to impress Hornets' manager, Graham Taylor, in a youth team game. "Graham saw me control the ball and then send a left-footed volley flying past Orient's goalkeeper. 'That's all I need to see', Graham said to those around him and left." The Vicarage Road club were promoted to the top division at the end of the 1981/82 season. The team had progressed from the fourth division to the first in four years. The 1982/83 season, which was Watford's first in the top-flight, was incredible. On the last day Watford beat Liverpool and Manchester United lost which meant the Hornets captured second place with Barnes as the key player. Striker Maurice Johnston was bought from Partick Thistle and Barnes returned to the left wing the following season. First division sides had caught on to Watford's tactics but they went all the way to Wembley where Everton beat them 2-0 in the FA Cup final. As Watford established themselves in the First Division, Barnes was regularly linked with a move to a higher-profile club. Watford finished 1986/87 in ninth place and at the end of the season Graham Taylor left for Aston Villa. Barnes was also on his way out after featuring in 233 League games, scoring 65 goals.In the summer of 1987. Kenny Dalglish agreed a fee of £900,000 to bring Barnes to Anfield, where he would join forces with the also recently-signed Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge to form one of the club's most attacking and exciting forward lines ever. "Kenny recalled one game when I beat Alan Hansen to score. After that match, Kenny said to Alan: ‘We’ll sign that John Barnes.’ I was completely convinced Kenny bought me to partner John Aldridge upfront. ‘Kenny’, I asked shortly after signing, ‘where will I be playing?’ Without a second’s pause, Kenny replied, ‘Left-wing’. Kenny knew that Peter Beardsley, a clever skilful support striker, would soon be joining. I had thought my left-wing days were over."
It only took Barnes nine minutes to create a goal for Aldridge on his Liverpool debut at Arsenal on Highbury on 15 August 1987. Barnes' first real test was his Anfield debut on 12 September against Oxford. Liverpool boss Dalglish was delighted by his performance: "Barnes did what we expected him to do. He made a goal, scored one, and entertained. You remember that." The season was like a fairytale for Liverpool with Barnes as their talisman: "Everything I tried worked: every trick or dribble, feint or pass produced something." Barnes' greatest performance came on 17 October 1987 against League-leaders Queens Park Rangers. He scored what he considers the best goal of his career. Kevin Brock tried to dribble past Barnes in the centre circle when he nicked the ball. Terry Fenwick rushed at him but Barnes pushed the ball to the left of him. "Whenever would-be tacklers came sliding in, I tried to toe the ball past them, ride the challenge and regain balance and the ball on the other side. After I pushed the ball past Fenwick, I landed and brought the ball back with my left foot in one movement. It was difficult to see why I didn’t fall over," Barnes said in his autobiography.Liverpool won the League Championship this season with 90 points, nine more than second-placed Manchester United. Liverpool scored 87 goals of which Barnes scored 15. He got the recognition he deserved for his part in Liverpool's dominance and was voted PFA's and Football Writer's Player of the Year. The double was on the horizon where minnows Wimbledon faced the mighty Liverpool. Wimbledon's 1-0 win was Liverpool's major disappointment in the club's historic season. Liverpool struggled to recapture their form from the unique 1987/88 season but clicked into gear in the second part of the 1988/89 season and put together 15 wins and three draws in 18 League games and reaching the FA Cup final. All this didn't matter however as the Hillsborough disaster claimed 96 lives on 15 April.
|12||West Ham United|
|2||Brighton & Hove Albion|
|1||Paris St Germain|
|2||West Ham United|
|3||European Cup Winners Cup|
|Total||Goal minute period|
|50||27.08.1988||Charlton Athletic||Selhurst Park||League|
|100||19.09.1989||Wigan Athletic||Anfield||League Cup|
|300||02.04.1995||Bolton Wanderers||Wembley||League Cup|
When John Barnes was at the top of his game there wasn't a more beautiful sight in football.You should never meet you heroes, the saying goes, but don't worry, John Barnes was a magnificent player and furthermore is a fantastic person.
It was a momentous occasion when one of the best players in the history of the club, rated by many supporters even as the very best, Billy Liddell, met Liverpool's talisman, John Barnes, in the early 90's, at Anfield.
John Martin talks about his favourite players on the left hand side of Liverpool throughout his years supporting the Reds.
An article from The Times by Oliver Holt on 14th of January 1995.
Match report from The Daily Telegraph on Liverpool - Newcastle on 04.03.1995.
Match report from British Soccer Week on Blackburn - Liverpool on 15.10.1994.
Match report from British Soccer Week on Southampton - Liverpool on 31.08.1994.
Match report from British Soccer Week on Crewe Alexandra - Liverpool on 06.01.1992.
Match report from British Soccer Week on Liverpool - Crystal Palace on 28.11.1992.
Match report from British Soccer Week on QPR - Liverpool on 23.11.1992.
Bob Paisley gives his expert view of Liverpool's newcomer John Barnes. Has there ever been a better judge of a player?
Match report on 08.04.1996 from "Press Association"
Match report from 26.08.1995 by Rob King of "Press Association"
John Barnes rates the SAS duo in the Guardian on 31 October 2013.
An article by Gregg Bakowski on 22 August 2013 for the Guardian.
"Players like John Barnes come along just once in a lifetime."
Legend Tom Finney
"Barnes did what we expected him to do. He made a goal, scored one, and entertained. You remember that."
Kenny Dalglish after John Barnes' Anfield debut for Liverpool
"John Barnes can be the greatest. He was described by the England boss Bobby Robson as the black Best, and I reckon he is right. Barnes has the ability to become the best, the most exciting winger in British Soccer since me. His transfer to Liverpool was the perfect move for a man who was born with stunning talent. The Anfield academy will take that natural ability, harness it with consistency, and produce a truly world-class performer."
George Best in October 1987
Barnes on the rampage was one of the most breathtaking sights in the game. Mesmerising ball control was combined with a directness rare in wingers. His balance almost defied belief, with hulking defenders bouncing off those monumental thighs. The football the Barnes-led side played in 1987 and 1988 hit peaks as high as any Liverpool team have reached.
Tony Evans on Times Online on John Barnes
|Club||Season||Club rank||League apps||League goals||Total apps||Total goals|
|Sudbury Court||1980-1981||Middlesex League||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Watford||1981-1982||England Second Division||36||13||44||14|
|Watford||1982-1983||England First Division||42||10||49||11|
|Watford||1983-1984||England First Division||39||11||54||16|
|Watford||1984-1985||England First Division||40||12||46||15|
|Watford||1985-1986||England First Division||39||9||50||13|
|Watford||1986-1987||England First Division||37||10||46||14|
|Newcastle United||1997-1998||England Premier League||26||6||39||7|
|Newcastle United||1998-1999||England Premier League||1||0||1||0|
|Charlton Athletic||1998-1999||England Premier League||12||0||12||0|