Words by Taran Dhamrait
TRIBUTES have been paid to long-time Stalybridge Celtic supporter Roy Barker, who recently passed away at Willow Wood Hospice at the age of 81.
Roy was well known among the Celtic community. He was not just a supporter, he dedicated many years to the club he loved, helping in numerous voluntary roles as well as being the club’s kitman during the mid 2000s.
Roy, a welder who lived in Dukinfield, died after a long illness. His funeral was held at Dukinfield Crematorium where there was standing room only as family and many friends attended the service.
Roy could be found most days during the week at Bower Fold, the club’s ground, either fixing something or taking on a job that needed doing.
Pete Dennerly, Celtic vice-president, said: “Any task that was required, Roy would do it. He had a willingness to help around the ground.
“He was one of those people that was always there. He never missed a game for years and was there most days often doing a full shift.
“Roy was a modest guy who never wanted praise.”
Roy took on the role as Celtic’s kitman during the mid 2000s.
“The lads loved him, and he was very popular with the managers he served under, especially Steve Burr and John Reed.”
One of the most memorable stories from Roy’s time as kitman was from Celtic’s game against Kettering Town in November 2005. Kettering beat Celtic 4-1, but it was the events with former England International footballer Paul Gascoigne after the game that were remarkable.
“It was one of Paul Gascoigne’s first games in charge as manager of Kettering”, Pete recalled.
“After the game, Gascoigne came into our changing room, he’d had a few pints and was congratulating our players for their performances.
“As he was leaving, he bumped into Roy. He then picked Roy up, spun him around and kissed him on the forehead.”
Celtic director Bill McCallum echoed the thoughts of everyone who knew Roy.
He said: “Roy was a wonderful bloke, who was always smiling.
“He never ever moaned about anything and was always helping around the ground doing any job that needed doing.”
Roy was devoted to his wife Margaret, sons Gary and Glynn and also his grandsons.
Margaret said: “He enjoyed going to the club, he got great pleasure out of it. It became his second home.
“He got involved purely and simply by going to watch the games. They had voluntary jobs available so from then on he worked at the club.”
Along with his grandsons, Roy enjoyed walking holidays in the Lake District.
Walking was a huge passion of Roy’s which would occasionally get him into trouble.
Pete added: “He used to get in trouble with Margaret for turning his phone off on his walks. He was deaf as a post!
“Looking at him, you wouldn’t think he was a walker, but he was a very fit man.”