Kevin Barry, uncle of Manchester City and England midfielder Gareth, died on Wednesday morning at St Michael’s Hospice following a battle with cancer. He was 61.
Dave Nessling, who played alongside Kevin, said: “He was a wholehearted and very, very strong player, but a genuinely nice bloke. Everybody liked Kevin and the supporters really took to him at Hastings.”
Initially a centre-forward, Kevin joined the old Hastings United as a youth team player in 1965-66 under Reg Flewin, who played for the Portsmouth team which won consecutive league titles in 1948-49 and 1949-50.
He graduated into the first team at a young age before singing for Chelsea in 1971 for £2,000. After that he went to Margate, who played then UEFA Cup holders Tottenham Hotspur in an FA Cup third round tie in 1972-73.
Kevin returned to Hastings United as club captain and defender when they were playing in the old Southern League. He later managed Hastings Town (which later became Hastings United) at The Firs.
Kevin spent 20 years living in Spain before returning to St Leonards last September because he was feeling unwell and was subsequently diagnosed with cancer.
Former team-mate John Lambert, who now manages Sidley United, said: “He taught me so much about defending, so much about football and how to conduct myself.”
Kevin’s funeral will take place at Hastings Crematorium next Friday (May 20) from 3.30pm and there will be a gathering afterwards at The Pilot Field, his spiritual home, to which all are welcome.
Flowers aren’t just restricted to the family, but they would like them to be blue in colour, reflecting the Chelsea connection. Kevin is survived by wife June, and sons Lee, Peter and Matthew.
The full article will appear in tomorrow’s Hastings Observer.