Linfield FC reported yesterday the sad passing of the club's popular former goalkeeper Ken Barclay.
Of course, the sadness and poignancy are compounded because the restrictions that have been put on place on gatherings at the present time because of the corona virus pandemic mean that the club will not be able to be represented to pay respects and tribute in the traditional manner at a funeral service in honour of the giant of a goalkeeper who played in 238 games for Linfield.
Ken played in 4 European games for Linfield - home and away against PSV Eindhoven in 1975 and home and away against Lillestrom of Norway in 1978. He was sent off in the game in Oslo.
Several of Ken's former team mates from the great Roy Coyle team of the mid to late 1970s have been in touch with Linfieldfc.com to offer their tribute to their former colleague who sadly passed away at home in Whitehead yesterday.
Legendary club captain Peter Rafferty
spoke with affection about his former team mate
"I was so sad when I heard yesterday that our former goalkeeper, Ken Barclay had passed away. Ken and I played together in a very successful Linfield side in the mid to late 1970s. A great character and a very humble and very decent friend and teammate. I am so shocked and saddened by his passing. My condolences are extended to his family and may he Rest in Peace. "
Another senior statesman of the club, former full back Alan Fraser
added his sadness on hearing the news.
"I was so sad when I heard the news of Ken's passing and I just want his family to know that they are in all our thoughts at this really difficult time for them all. Ken was a very fine goalkeeper in a Linfield team that achieved a lot of success during his time at the club and he really was a lovely big gentleman who will be greatly missed by players across the entire league from the 1970s era."
Another fine Linfield full back and long serving sports therapist, Terry Hayes
added his tribute.
“Ken was a giant of a man in our dressing room in the late 70s. As young players, we all respected him so much for his kindness and willingness to give guidance on what was expected to be a Linfield player at that time. A lovely character to be around and will be greatly missed by the Linfield family.”
Legendary winger Billy Murray
paid the following tribute to his former team mate
“Big Ken was a gentle giant, a brilliant keeper and an A1 guy. Roy Coyle with his determination to succeed at Windsor brought in new players like myself and George Dunlop. It says everything about Ken's resolve, character and no mean ability that he kept the great George Dunlop out of the team for a year and was a mainstay in the 1977/78 double winning side (Roy Coyle's first), making lots of vital saves. We will all miss him greatly.”
Former centre forward from the late 1970s period, Colin McCurdy
added his sadness on hearing the upsetting news.
“My memories of the Big Man are that he always had a smile on his face and had a great sense of humour. The one thing I always remember of Ken is when i played against him for Larne in an Irish cup semi final at the Oval. It was 1-1 late in the game when I broke through on a 1v1 and knocked the ball by him and tried to jump over him to put the ball into an empty net. He reached up and just pulled me down - a clear cut penalty but not against the Blues at the city end. The ref didn't give it and i will always remember him laughing and sayIng "Got away with that one, McCurd". From that time on, he always reminded me of it but at this time, like all the Linfield family, I just can't believe the big man is no longer with us. I’m so sad and extend my deepest sympathy to his family.”
And the final word goes to the legend who took his place in the Linfield team - George Dunlop.
“Big Ken kept me out of the team for around 18 months after I signed from Ballymena. When I broke through into the first team, he congratulated and encouraged me. That was the stature of the man. He was a real gentleman and a team mate of great dignity. He will be sadly missed and my heart goes out to his nearest and dearest at this time of their enormous loss.”
After leaving Linfield in 1981, Ken played a small number of games for Glentoran and his passing has also been acknowledged with sadness on their official website.
Ken is pictured in the team photo (front left) published in Shoot magazine below,
He is also featured in several pages from the Linfield programme in 1974 and 1976.