Keith (Spanky) & Denis (the Menace)

Everyone has a story to tell and everyone could write a book about their lives that would make more than interesting reading.  Quite recently in July 2015 a neighbour of mine, Keith Barstow, died and nobody knew that he played in the same youth team as Denis Law at Huddersfield Town in 1955-56 under first of all Andy Beattie and then the legendary Bill Shankly.  Keith was born in Heckmondwike in 1938 and like all young boys he loved sport and as well as playing on the books of a Division I club he was also an excellent cricketer who in 1982 gained a Cricket Council Coaching Certificate through the Yorkshire Cricket Association.  Keith and Denis Law (see photo) would have been noticed by their manager when they won the West Riding County Junior Cup 7-2 by defeating Leeds Market District with the scorers being Law (3), Barstow (2), Canning and a Leeds own goal.  Bill Shankly resigned from Workington Town on November 15th 1955 to take up the post of assistant manager at Huddersfield Town, working with his old friend Andy Beattie.  Shankly's initial role at Huddersfield was as reserve team coach.  He found himself in charge of several promising youngsters who soon graduated to the first team after Town were relegated to the Second Division at the end of the 1955–56 season. Beattie resigned in the next season and, on November 5th 1956, Shankly succeeded him as manager. On Christmas Eve, he gave a first team debut to 16-year-old prospect Denis Law.  Another prospect in his team was left back Ray Wilson who went on to become Huddersfield's most capped player before joining Everton.  Of course Huddersfield Town in the 1920’s had the greatest manager of them all, Herbert Chapman, who led his team to an FA Cup win and two championship titles before leaving to join Arsenal.

Keith selected to play for a Huddersfield youth side
in January 1955 against Thornhill

Although I don’t have a photograph of Keith in the famous blue and white striped shirt of Huddersfield Town he can be seen some years later, May 1965, when he was playing for Liversedge in the West Riding County Amateur League.

Liversedge Football Club won the West Riding Amateur League, the League Cup and the Wheatley Cup in 1964-65 to become triple trophy winners

Back Row (L-R)
C Clark, P Walker, W Butler, B Collier, M McKellor, J Clark, L Brewer,
Keith Barstow, L Grogan, L Wharton, H Crossland, E Sutcliffe

Front Row (L-R)
M Stead, L Thomas, B Palmer, T Harland, I Greenwood, J Holmes

Keith played mainly on the left wing in his younger days but could also play inside forward and whichever slot he was allocated he had an eye for goal and regularly featured in the goal scoring charts.  An example of this came in 1958-59 when Liversedge defeated Bradford Rovers 5-4 in a West Riding County Amateur League game.  Playing at inside right he scored a wonderful second half hat trick to add to his first half goal and created the fifth goal for his colleague Hirst.  Newspaper headlines like “Barstow’s Big Day” and “Barstow’s Tonic” were not unusual or rare and he was described in a local newspaper as “a classy inside forward equally at home on the wing.  Known as “Spanky” to his friends for the way he spanked the ball into the net.  He is also a wicketkeeper/batsman for Gomersal Cricket Club”.

Keith’s widow, Margaret, recalls that he was named “Spanky” by a neighbour when he was a child.  He resembled one of the boys in “Little Rascals”, an adaptation of Hal Roach's Our Gang, a series of short films of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s (many of which were broadcast on television as The Little Rascals) which centered on the adventures of a group of neighborhood children.  I remember watching the TV programme with my grandson several years ago, we were literally rolling about with laughter at 'Spanky'.  Mark said 'just like grandad'.

The Little Rascals - Spanky on the Phone

The Little Rascals - Spanky & Scotty

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Design: David Ainsworth