Mickey Barrett becomes the eighth inductee to the Hall of Fame...
Tragically young at his death, Mike Barrett remains one of the most talented and popular players ever to wear the quartered shirt of Bristol Rovers, and his name recurs whenever Rovers supporters of a certain generation discuss the club they cherish.
Barrett had the ability to beat defenders at pace and turn defence into attack, creating numerous goal-scoring opportunities for Archie Stephens and Paul Randall and exciting the home crowd with his pace and skill.
Described in a tribute after his passing as 'as Bristol as Cabot Tower', Barrett was born and bred in the city, coming through the ranks in the District League.
After his debut for the Gas in 1979, Barrett quickly claimed a regular starting place and helped Rovers steady the ship in Division Three following recent relegation. Barrett would solidify his place in Rovers history with a goal in the Gas' centenary game against Newcastle United in late December 1983, helping his side to a 5-4 victory.
Barrett was a mainstay in a 1983-84 side that came close to promotion, utilising his well-known speed and trickery to hit nine league goals across the season. His last would be in the final game of the season, with his last-minute goal snatching a 3-2 victory over Millwall when the game appeared lost.
Described as 'One of soccer's great jokers', Barrett was an effervescent presence in the Rovers dressing room, forming great friendships with his teammates over his time in the blue and white quarters.
Following his successful 1983-84 season, Barrett's story came to a tragic end after struggling in pre-season training, he entered Bristol Royal Infirmary for tests and, tragically, died shortly afterwards of cancer, aged just twenty-four. He left a young widow, Louise, who gave birth to their son Liam six weeks later.
Mike Barrett’s immense respect at Eastville was reflected in the huge support shown at testimonial games in the autumn of 1984 against Aston Villa and his former club Shirehampton Sports.
Speaking on the passing of his teammate and friend, Rovers forward Paul Randall said, 'I had no brothers of my own. But now I genuinely feel as though I've lost a brother,' a true testament to the strength of the bonds Mickey Barrett created right through Bristol Rovers Football Club.
As part of the Hall of Fame project, we are looking to hear from the fortunate Gashead's who witnessed Barrett's playing days, or those who had stories passed on of his quality. In these difficult lockdown times, we encourage supporters to pick up the phone, or zoom call family members to discuss his legacy.
Please screen record these chats and send them on to firstname.lastname@example.org, these will form part of videos to be used on social media and the big screen when Mickey's family can attend a game after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
As mentioned in the initial Hall of Fame announcement, artist 'Tonz' will be creating unique artwork for each of the 10 initial inductees which will decorate the Thatchers Bar as a permanent reminder of the Hall of Famer's legacy.
Finally, we would like to remind supporters this selection is initial, those not selected over the coming weeks stand plenty of chance to be included in the future, please respect the carefully considered selections from the Retro Rovers Podcast panel.
After picking Barrett as their eighth inductee, the Retro Rovers Podcast said, "We are delighted to induct Mickey Barrett into the Bristol Rovers Hall of Fame. Mickey had a rare ability to leave full-backs on their backsides with a body swerve and was also capable of scoring the odd very important goal. Those in attendance at Eastville to witness his last-minute winner versus Millwall in his last game at our spiritual home will never forget it.
"His passing in August 1984 was one of the bleakest days in our modern era and those who witnessed him playing will never forget him or his ability, he was a player destined to play at a much higher level of the football pyramid. A very much deserved addition to the Hall of Fame."