We have lost Barry, the most memorable, charismatic, lovable, loyal rogue you could ever meet; a man full of warmth and opinion, able to amuse and antagonise in the same sentence, a man to be relied on, trusted for most of the time, but above all to be remembered with great affection. He was known and loved throughout the rugby fraternity and he represented all that was good about Charlton Park. Rugby men like him are few and far between.
Barry joined the club in the early 1960s, along with his brother Terry and Duncan Allsop; all three had been at Christ’s College Blackheath together. He devoted the next half-century to Charlton Park, captaining the 1sts for two years (1964 and ’65) and then, after his back seized up, the 3rds, which he renamed the Comets, with his later years spent running the bar, offering his views and winding people up. As a sideline he was also mine host of The George in Bexley village, but that’s another story.
Everyone has a memory of him. It is typical of his quixotic nature that he played in two positions during his long rugby career; loose-head prop and full-back. He was a strong and athletic prop (according to him) but an almost static full-back exhorting ‘forwards across’ from his armchair in the middle of the 25. Nevertheless, we wanted to play with him – it was fun, and unpredictable. Ironically, considering his chequered disciplinary record, he finished his career doing some refereeing, not without controversy.
We could see Barry’s several brushes with the laws coming. Until we gained our own ground in 1974 we ran club functions and, being in the business, Barry would often run the bar. On one occasion, a dance at Greenwich Town Hall, all the ‘take’ was stolen and he was in a foul mood and anxious to exact revenge on someone. The opponents the next day were Twickenham and needless to say he was sent off, the referee having some difficulty in persuading him to leave the field. The following season, when Barry was captain and sporting a beard, the Twickenham fixture came round. They asked the captain whether we still had ‘that dirty b……’, but were informed that he had, of course, been thrown out of the club.
Barry Pritchard; fiercely pro CPRFC, against the world, particularly those who considered themselves better than they should be. From his position behind the bar he welcomed people into the club – players, friends and visitors alike, and you knew you shouldn’t believe everything he said but …
He became a particularly devoted friend and protector of Dave Beere when we toured Antwerp. Dave was very ill at the time but rather than be the carefree tourist Barry ensured that all was good with him during the entire trip, making sure Beerey’s last tour would be a comfortable one. Deeds not words personified.
His passing is a defining moment in the history of Charlton Park Rugby Football Club.
We would like anyone who has any photographs of Barry to send them to email@example.com or drop them off at the club beforehand so that we can make up a tribute.
If you have any personal memories please also send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
At this time our thoughts are with Sylvie, Terry and the family.