John Barton, former Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper, has sadly died, aged 72.
John made his Football League debut as a 16 year-old amateur goalkeeper for Preston North End, away at Arsenal on the 20th December 1958.
Putting nerves to one side he was the hero in a fine 2-1 win, which put North End within a point of joint league leaders, West Brom and Bolton Wanderers.
After two more first team games over the Christmas period, he was back cleaning boots with the juniors, as professional goalkeepers, Fred Else and Alan Kelly, regained fitness.
John was to learn his trade over the following few seasons with guidance from England ‘B’ international, Else and Eire international, Kelly.
John, who played in North End’s FA Youth Cup final against Chelsea in 1960, went on to make 54 league and cup appearances for Preston North End before being transferred to Lancashire neighbours Blackburn Rovers in 1966, where he was in competition with former Preston colleague Fred Else and Scottish international, Adam Blacklaw.
John made 72 appearances for the Rovers before leaving the game in 1972.
He had kept 16 cleansheets in his first season at Ewood Park as the Rovers narrowly missed promotion from the Second Division.
He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.
Our condolences go out to his family, friends and former colleagues.
Ian Rigby - Club Historian