Barry Kitchener: Millwall defender who holds the Lions' appearance record

 

With his rugged looks, flowing locks and immense physical presence, Barry Kitchener was the epitome of the warrior centre-half, and from the middle 1960s to the early 1980s he embodied the indefatigable spirit of Millwall Football Club.

Exuding strength, defiance and a certain unflappable dignity that somehow remained intact no matter how tempestuous the action around him, he hurled himself fearlessly into every game with inspirational relish. He was a pillar of reliability, exactly the sort of team-mate every professional loves to play alongside when the going gets tough.

Kitchener compiled a club record of some 600 senior appearances for the Lions, an astonishing 244 of them in consecutive contests, and it wasn't only regular attenders at The Den who reckoned he was unfortunate never to test himself in England's top division.

As it was, he shone consistently in the middle tiers, suffering relegation to the Third in 1974/75, then captaining the side which bounced straight back to the Second at the first attempt, only to experience the trauma of demotion again three seasons later.

Through all the ups and downs, as managers Benny Fenton, Gordon Jago, George Petchey and Peter Anderson came and went, the quiet, craggy Kitchener was a constantly reassuring figure.

Spotted in Essex by a shrewd Millwall scout, the Dagenham-born defender was recruited from Newbury Park Youth Club as a 16-year-old. He signed professional forms in 1965, turned out at left-back for the youth team and reserves, then made his senior entrance in the No 3 shirt, deputising for Den idol Harry Cripps in a 2-0 defeat at Birmingham in February 1967.

But with the exuberant and popular Cripps in his pomp, with many seasons on the left flank of the Lions' defence still ahead of him, and stalwart stopper Brian Snowdon reaching the veteran stage, the rookie Kitchener was seen as an ideal replacement at the heart of the rearguard.

So instantly successful was his conversion that he was ever-present over the next five Second Division terms, reaching new heights of dominance in 1971/72 as Fenton's team finished third in the table, only a point adrift of promoted Birmingham.

Kitchener was commanding in the air, not prone to over-elaboration when the ball was on the ground, but capable of safe and sensible distribution – and ready to hurl his body into the way of anything that threatened the Millwall net.

Apart from spending the summer of 1979 on loan with Tampa Bay – he excelled in the US, helping his team to reach the Soccer Bowl final, in which the Rowdies were beaten by Vancouver Whitecaps – he played all his senior football for the Lions, his loyalty never in question.

By the early 1980s, feeling the inevitable wear-and-tear of a decade and a half in the professional game, Kitchener was supplanted as a regular in the side, first by Tony Tagg and then by Sam Allardyce, who would also see service with Tampa Bay.

After finishing as a player in 1982, he coached the club's reserves and youngsters, and when Anderson was sacked as manager that November, there were plenty of Millwall fans who reckoned their old favourite should take the reins. In the event, he did so for a handful of matches as caretaker before George Graham was appointed.

Thereafter, he did not remain for long in the professional game, but went on to run a souvenir business in Norfolk with his wife.

He remained a regular visitor to the Den, where he will always be revered, his lasting stature emphasised in 2007 when he was chosen as Millwall's entry in the Professional Footballers' Association Hall of Fame, which was set up to commemorate the union's centenary that year.

Barry Raymond Kitchener, footballer; born Dagenham, Essex 11 December 1947; played for Millwall 1965-82; married; died 30 March 2012.

News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
News
newsIn short, yes
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and i...

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and...

Primary Teaching Supply

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories