Shaun Barker – More than a Footballer
Last week I was asked to write a piece on Shaun Barker for possible future publication elsewhere.
The piece may or may not appear and will almost certainly be edited. However as a welcome break from the troubles of the current Rams, herewith our tribute to Barks.
FC Barcelona’s world famous slogan ‘mes que un club’ translates as ‘more than a club’. If ever there was a player who justified the slogan ‘more than a footballer’, it is Shaun Barker.
After a long running transfer saga that was pretty typical of Derby in that era, I actually went to Shaun’s first official game for Derby which was a pre-season friendly against Chesterfield at their old Saltergate home.
I think if I said Shaun didn’t have a great game, it would be generous. He did however endear himself to me slightly that day by posing for a photo with my son after the game, which is still on his wall today.
Luckily, his debut was not a sign of things to come and Shaun soon proved himself to be a tremendous defender with the sort of fearless, wholehearted attitude that all football fans love. Even going as far as replicating the Terry Butcher bandage around the head in one game against Forest.
At certain times, he looked unbeatable and his brief partnership with Shacks was tremendous. It was a shame Derby couldn’t have kept them together longer and an even bigger shame that there wasn’t the same quality in front of them at the time.
I remember one particular Tuesday night game at QPR in 2010. The sort of game where you’re watching a struggling Rams team getting ran ragged, in miserable weather, miles from home and, as the pre match beers wear off, you really start to question where your life is going. Then Barks (who was epic in keeping the score down to 0-1 in the first place) pops up and lashes in a second half equaliser like Shearer right in front of the Rams fans. Good times!
What makes Shaun unique to me though is what he did/does off the field. A massive music fan, his IPod was a fixture in the Rams gym during his rehab and a regular source of sport for the rest of the RnB loving Rams players. Whilst many footballers will post pictures of their trainers or the contents of the latest parcel they have received from Nike (I’m being family friendly there), Shaun regularly post pictures of his vinyl record collection or tweets about gigs he is attending (typically after I finished this piece I went on twitter and sure enough there was a Barks tweet about him having a “vinyl night”!). I can’t think of many/any footballers who would chat with a fan on twitter about the merits of Mogwai live or roll up to a Peter Hook concert in a small club venue (looking like a T-Bird from Grease as opposed to the standard footballer extra from only way is Essex look).
However don’t think we are just talking here about a twist on Graeme Le Saux preferring the Guardian to the Sun newspaper. Aside from his love of music, consider his involvement in the cool “with the gods” football t-shirt range, Shaun having his head shaved on the pitch for charity, his new build house winning an award for architecture and more recently his amazing work with the Shaun Barker Foundation and it’s clear that we have a special case on our hands.
Shaun’s courage, focus and determination in getting anywhere near fit to play football again after the nature of his injury is an example to everyone. With an injury such as Shaun’s, most players would have retired years ago, took the insurance and got fat. But then Shaun Barker is not most players.
There was widespread surprise, even from Shaun himself, when his testimonial was announced. However it’s hard to think of any player who deserves one more.
As I said “more than a footballer”.
You can get involved with the Shaun Barker Foundation HERE.