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.


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage

nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PE Teacher, Full Time Role, Gillingham School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We are urgently seeking an exper...

Telecoms Engineer - Telecoms Admin - £35,000 - 5 month FTC

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 5 month Fixed Term Contract - Telecommunicati...

Norwegian Speaking Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 per annum + competitive OTE: SThree: Progressive in Manchester is seeki...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London