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Red Rose rugby loses Wigan stalwart

05 February 2013

  • Red Rose county loses loyal friend
  • Ex-President dies suddenly aged 70
Former Lancashire Rugby Football Union President Clifton Barker

Photo: RFU Archive

The sudden death of Clifton Barker ('Clif' to all but his mother) has robbed the Lancashire Rugby Football Union in general and the Wigan club in particular of a fine servant and a loyal friend. He was 70.

He was President of the county in the 2009/10 season and was an active member of the management board until his death.

After deputising for Bill Chappell for some time, Clif was elected Chairman of the Lancashire Management Board in June 2012, also serving as Chairman of Governance from June 2010 onwards. He was the Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee for 14 years, forming a formidable partnership with its Secretary, the late Brian Leigh, and he also brought that wealth of experience to the RFU Disciplinary Panel in recent years.

County President Malcolm Worsley, a member of Lancashire's Disciplinary Committee for 15 years, expressed his sadness and that of the rugby fraternity in Lancashire and the North West, at the sudden loss of an outstanding colleague who he had known since 1964.

"As a lawyer, Clif was always on top of his brief and treated both players and referees who appeared in front of him with the utmost courtesy, respect and fairness,” He said. “His knowledge of the RFU Handbook was forensic, regularly displaying an uncanny ability to turn to the relevant page of his well-thumbed book in an instant.

“During his recent months as Chairman, the county has richly benefited from Clif being one of the staunchest supporters of club and grassroots rugby, with real concerns about the local and national challenges ahead. He was looking forward to leading the discussion at next week's meeting with the RFU, expressing the county's concerns over the proposed constitutional changes, and he was taking a keen interest in the proposals to realign the competitive framework in Lancashire.

“Clif was a gentleman of Wigan whose presence will be greatly missed by the rugby union community.”

His first associations with the game of rugby came at Wigan Grammar School and Manchester University before he joined his hometown club, Wigan RFC, in 1964 on completion of his legal studies and played in the back row there until 1978.

He went on to become Membership Secretary, Chairman of Rugby, Chairman of the Executive Committee and President of the club and was made an Honorary Member in 1984.

In the early 1970s, he joined the Lancashire County General Committee and served in that capacity for a number of years.

An ardent campaigner for the introduction of leagues, he worked hard to persuade the RFU to allow the creation of the Girobank Leagues in the North West, which were to become the forerunner of the national league system we have today.

A lawyer by profession, his chairmanship of the County’s Disciplinary Committee extended for over a decade and in recent times he brought that experience to the RFU Disciplinary Panels.

He leaves a widow Judy, daughter Sally, son Danny and grandchildren.

His funeral service will be held at Wigan Parish Church at 12.30pm on Monday, February 11, 2013. This will be followed by a reception at Wigan RUFC.


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