Bury Town officials have paid moving tributes to a club volunteer who has been described as ‘at the forefront of everything’ at Ram Meadow.
An impeccably observed minute’s silence was held before Wednesday’s friendly with Ipswich Town Under-21s to mark the death of youth secretary and director Garry Barker after a three-month battle with an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer.
The 60-year-old Ipswich and Bury supporter, who passed away on Saturday, is credited with joining the youth section to the senior structure after becoming youth secretary in 2002.
Chairman Russell Ward, a long-time friend of Barker’s, said: “For at least 10 years he ran it single-handedly. Garry was at the forefront of everything.
“Our youth section, with 30-odd teams, is a testimony to his hard work over those years.
“Last year we felt Garry’s value to the club was more than that, so we invited him to become a director on the board of the main club, which he accepted.
“Despite carrying on with the youths he was involved with us on matchdays and with other bits and pieces behind-the-scenes.
“Obviously he is a huge loss to us. We knew he was seriously ill but we all hoped they could do something to slow it down, but unfortunately it has all happened a lot quicker than we thought.”
He added: “He was a very passionate Ipswich Town fan and we felt this game was a fitting to do a minute’s silence and the response from his family was fantastic.”
Bury chief executive Michelle Barran-Curran said she did not know if they could ever fill the void he had left, with his role likely to have to be split in four.
“He has put so much time and effort into Bury Town Youth, it is just phenomenal,” she said.
“He was 24 hours a day, always answering emails and texts, and he just loved football.
“He was always the first to offer you a cup of tea and the first to offer you a glass of wine. In simple terms, he was my football husband because he was always there.”
Barker, who lived in Bury, leaves behind a wife and two sons, Tom and Craig. His funeral is set to be held on Thursday at 3.45pm at West Suffolk Crematorium with a wake to be held back at Bury Town’s clubhouse.
n Meanwhile, the club are set to have a board meeting on Monday to discuss new appointments, following Phil Smailes stepping down from his role as vice-chairman and director after his three-year term finished, with Newmarket-based businessman John Hall’s proposed involvement also set to be discussed.