For life-long Reds supporter Arthur Bower, his memories are priceless.
It was in 1944 and at a local derby against Huddersfield Town that Arthur got his first taste of The Reds as a small boy, and some 72 years later he’s still going strong, supporting his beloved Barnsley and documenting each and every game played. Some would call it an obsession, but the man himself calls it devotion.
“It’s a lifestyle, I’ve dedicated my life to Barnsley Football Club and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always wanted to be a footballer but I was never quite good enough unfortunately and so I reckoned the next best thing was supporting the Club.”
But it goes more than just supporting for Arthur, as he explained.
“I have every match-day programme from Oakwell, from the 1944-45 season right up to the present day, except for maybe 40 issues. They’re all in pristine condition. I’ve all kinds of Reds memorabilia, including autograph books that run right from A to Z with signed photos of practically every player to represent the Club.
“I’ve held a season ticket for 70 years now, my son Tim is also a massive supporter and he too has his own collection of Barnsley memorabilia. It’s just sort of snowballed really, over time. Some people collect stamps, we collect everything related to the Reds!”
He’s collected plenty of memories down the years too. He’s seen most of the Club’s great players, promotions, relegations and finally this year, he saw the Reds lift a trophy at Wembley. Twice!
“Oh, they were two wonderful days. It warmed my heart. I was lucky enough to see the great Tommy Taylor, Jimmy Baxter, Danny Blanchflower, they were extraordinary footballers and of course the King himself, Ronnie Glavin. He was Tim’s first real hero for the Reds.”
But for Arthur, there was only one Johnny Kelly.
“He was the best left-winger I’ve ever seen. He was an entertainer first and foremost. Really quick, and despite his small stature he had a very powerful shot. He represented Scotland when it meant something, when they were awash with great players.”
There are two players from the current Reds squad who Arthur is quick to acknowledge deserve to be spoken about in the same regard as those from yesteryear.
“I love Adam Hammill. He reminds me of Kelly actually in that he too is a showman. He excites you. And sometimes frustrates you! But you wouldn’t change him. And for me, we’re watching another Club great in our captain, Conor Hourihane. He has a touch of Neil Redfearn about him but – and this is no offence to Redfearn – I think Conor has more grace.”
The mountain of memorabilia that Arthur has built up over time has practically taken over his home but he will never call it a day.
“I've been offered thousands of pounds for my collection. But I wouldn't take millions. They are priceless memories. The only way my collection will ever leave me is if I hand it over to the Club. Maybe I am obsessed after all!” he joked “But I love this Club.”
Arthur, we salute you! #YouReds