Dan Coker's Match Preview
Welcome to the latest in a series of articles designed for international matches – a look back at former Hammers players who wore the Three Lions of England.
Today, as England prepare to face Denmark in the League A Group 2 Nations League match in Copenhagen, we look back at a former Hammers and England defender – Jim Barrett. Jim was born in West Ham on 19th January 1907 – he had a brother and two sisters, and his father was an iron founder in the docks. The family lived at 29 Folkestone Road in West Ham and Jim attended Abbey School but, as they had no football team, he transferred to the renowned Park School. He also represented Fairbairn House Boys’ Club, which also produced future Hammers player and manager Ted Fenton. Jim first played at Upton Park for West Ham Boys when they met Liverpool in the 1920/21 English Shield Final – the Duke of York (later George VI) was a member of a then-record attendance at the Boleyn Ground.
A schoolboy boxing champion, Jim signed professional forms with West Ham United in 1923 and made his debut for Syd King’s Hammers at the age of 18 in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham in front of 35,000 at White Hart Lane on 28th March 1925. Just short of 6’ tall and weighing in at 14st 2lbs, the barrel-chested, lionhearted defender made five appearances as the Irons finished 13th in the First Division in 1924/25. Jim scored his first goal for the club in the corresponding fixture the following season, although the Hammers would this time be defeated 4-2 at Spurs on 7th November 1925.
Mainly a centre-half who admirably rose to the challenge of succeeding the great George Kay, Barrett’s all-round ability actually saw him play in every position for the club during his distinguished one-club career. This adaptability was never better displayed than when he scored five goals in three games whilst playing at centre-forward, including his first goals at Upton Park – a hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Leeds on 30th January 1926. At the end of the season, Jim married Elsie in June 1926; they had a daughter, Marie, that year.
The Hammers had finished 18th in 1925/26, with Barrett making 43 appearances and scoring six goals; the following campaign would see the club rise to a sixth-placed finish, with Barrett scoring once in 45 matches. 1927/28 saw the Irons drop again, down to 17th, and the club finished in the same position the year after. It was in the 1928/29 campaign that Barrett won his only England cap – it came in a 2-1 win over Ireland at Goodison Park on 22nd October 1928, with Arsenal’s Joe Hulme and Everton’s Dixie Dean netting for the Three Lions. Unfortunately for Barrett, his match was over within eight minutes – he twisted his left knee when clearing the ball and had to leave the field, with his side forced to play the majority of the match with ten men. He never played for England again. To this day, Barrett holds the record for the shortest international career of any player who has started a game for England.
Barrett scored a joint career-high tally of eight goals in 1929/30 as West Ham finished seventh but the rise again proved temporary as they fell to 18th the next season. ‘Big Jim’ and Elsie welcomed son Jim Junior in November 1930 – he would emulate his dad, going on to score 26 goals in 91 games for the Hammers between April 1950 and December 1954 before joining Nottingham Forest.
West Ham’s regular flirtations with the lower reaches of the First Division came to a head in 1931/32 when the club were relegated in bottom position. Charlie Paynter would soon take over from King, who would commit suicide in February 1933. The turbulence led to another difficult season, with the club one point and one place away from a second consecutive relegation – Barrett’s eight goals in 46 appearances helped stave off that particular threat and the club did reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
The Hammers rallied to finish seventh in 1933/34 and only missed out on promotion on goal average in 1934/35, finishing third; Barrett made 40 and 43 appearances in those seasons respectively, scoring five goals in each. Another 42 appearances, and two goals, followed in 1935/36 as the Irons finished fourth, three points off promotion. Big Jim was a larger than life character who was hugely popular, loved and admired amongst supporters – during a club tour of the Netherlands, he deliberately aimed a long-distance shot at a clock behind the goal and found his target, putting the clock out of action!
1936/37 saw Barrett make just 11 appearances, the first time he hadn’t made 40 or more appearances in a campaign since 1928/29 – West Ham finished sixth. Only eight appearances followed the next season as the Hammers’ gradual slip from the promotion picture continued, finishing ninth in 1937/38 – Barrett’s last league goal came in a 3-3 draw with Norwich at Upton Park on 28th December 1937.
Barrett’s final league match in claret and blue was as a 31-year-old in a 4-2 win at Manchester City on 7th September 1938. Big Jim Barrett had scored 53 goals in 467 appearances for West Ham United in league and FA Cup. A week after his final match, Jim and Elsie had a third addition to their family when daughter Jennifer was born. By this time the family was living at 75 Claude Road in Upton.
The outbreak of World War Two saw Barrett appear 86 times for West Ham in wartime fixtures, scoring 17 goals – these included games in the Wartime League South, the London League, the League South Cup, the London War Cup and the Football League War Cup. Barrett even played as a goalkeeper in one of these matches. These wartime fixtures took Barrett’s totals with the club to 70 goals in 553 appearances. His last goal for the club when counting these matches came in a 6-2 win over Watford on 16th December 1944; his last appearance for the club came at the age of 37 and was in a 5-4 victory over Brighton on 13th January 1945.
After retiring in 1945, ‘Big Jim’ had a spell in charge of the West Ham United ‘A’ team – he actually lined up alongside his son, the aforementioned Jim Junior, in a game for the Hammers ‘A’ team. Jim’s later life was beset by ill health. Following a long stay in hospital, Jim Barrett Senior passed away on 25th November 1970 at the age of 63.
Denmark v England
England face Denmark this evening in League A Group 2 of the 2020/21 Nations League – it will be the 20th meeting between the two nations. A previous meeting between the pair in Copenhagen resulted in a 4-3 win for the Three Lions in front of 47,600 at Idraetsparken on 20th September 1978. 10cc were number one with ‘Dreadlock Holiday’, Grease was in UK cinemas and Keith Moon had died less than a fortnight earlier.
West Ham’s Trevor Brooking, who had recently suffered relegation with the Hammers, was at the centre of all that was good about Ron Greenwood’s England on this autumn evening in the Danish capital. Brooking’s 17th-minute free-kick from the right was nodded home by Kevin Keegan; the lead was doubled five minutes later when Brooking’s free-kick from the left this time was met by Dave Watson and Keegan notched his second with a brave diving header. England were dealt a swift blow seconds later when Phil Neal brought down his man and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Allan Simonsen halved the arrears from the penalty spot. Ajax’s Frank Arnesen – who would later be Director of Football at Tottenham and Chelsea – made it four goals in ten minutes when he equalised with a powerful drive past Ray Clemence.
England regained the lead six minutes into the second half when Brooking’s cross eluded Keegan but was turned home at the far post by Everton’s Bob Latchford. Neal (pictured above) made amends for conceding the penalty in the first half by wrapping the game up with a rasping 84th-minute drive, although there was still time for a Danish consolation through Werder Bremen’s Per Rontved a minute later. Coach Don Howe later described the game as “the most exciting international match I’ve ever seen” – the action can be viewed in the video below.
Denmark: Birger Jensen (Club Brugge), Flemming Nielsen (Odense), Per Rontved (captain, Werder Bremen), Henning Munk Jensen (Frederikshavn fI), Carsten Nielsen (Borussia Monchengladbach), Frank Arnesen (Ajax), Flemming Lund (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Soren Lerby (Ajax), Allan Simonsen (Borussia Monchengladbach), Benny Nielsen (Anderlecht), Jorgen Kristensen (Naestved).
Sub: Allan Hansen (Tennis Borussia Berlin) for Benny Nielsen.
England: Ray Clemence (Liverpool), Phil Neal (Liverpool), Dave Watson (Man City), Emlyn Hughes (captain, Liverpool), Mick Mills (Ipswich), Steve Coppell (Man Utd), Ray Wilkins (Chelsea), Trevor Brooking (West Ham), Peter Barnes (Man City), Kevin Keegan (Hamburg), Bob Latchford (Everton).
The previous articles in the series are:
Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne
Sir Geoff Hurst
Frank Lampard Senior
Sir Trevor Brooking
Frank Lampard Junior