Brian Arrowsmith was laid to rest today (28th April 2020). We’d just like to share some words from P.J.Daly on the Barrow forum (thanks P.J).
BRIAN ARROWSMITH R.I.P
There’s a reason that that stand is named after him . . . because he was number one in so many ways in the history of the club. He was the local lad who captained us during our most glorious years. It’s true that there were more illustrious names in that team, notably former top-flight players such as Fred Else, Billy McAdams and the recently passed Brian Pilkington, but Arrer was the steady rock of the side at centre-half and had the qualities of bravery, commitment and whole-heartedness by the bucket-load. I might be corrected on this but I think he played his last game for us, in the reserves, around about 1986 at the age of 46! That’s the sort of granite he was carved out of.
For the benefit of anybody reading this thread who is Barrow through and through but simply too young to have any recollection of Brian’s contributions to Barrow as a player or, later, as a player-manager, allow me to draw something of a parallel to explain why he means so much to Barrow fans of a certain age . . .
Think Paul Jones (Jonah) our captain who lifted the Trophy for us at Wembley almost ten years ago. Brian and Paul were in many ways from the same mould. They played in the centre of defence and gave 100% every time they stepped onto the pitch. Both were fearless and unafraid to take any number of knocks and bruises. It is true that neither would be regarded as Barrow’s greatest footballer in the pure sense of the word; neither possessed the silky skills of a Jimmy Mulholland, a Kenny Lowe, or a John Rooney. They were old-fashioned stoppers. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, every team needs these players in defence. I mean, England had one when they won the World Cup in 1966 in the shape of “The Giraffe”, namely Jack Charlton. But those reading this who are too young to remember Brian, but who do remember Jonah from just a few short years ago, will perhaps gather a picture of what I am getting at, and the type of player we had . . . not the loveliest of footballers but with unmatched levels of bravery, loyalty and dedication to the cause.
So think Paul Jones and you are part way there to thinking Brian Arrowsmith. They will I am sure always remain amongst the most respected and admired of all players to ever pull on a Barrow shirt. But of course Brian is number one above all others, indeed, respectfully, above Paul Jones, because of the number of years he gave to us and because of the starriest of times he captained us through and the levels he performed at with the club. And it does add to the story that he was Barrow born and bred, yet captained a team containing many former top-notch players from the height of the English game. I made a rough (very rough!) calculation that between 1901 and the present time of 2020 there might have been perhaps around 1500 footballers to play for Barrow AFC first team. Of that estimated 1500, Brian is all-time number one, bar none, in terms of importance and significance. Not number one in the singular terms of having been the greatest player, but number one in terms of his abilities on the pitch thrown into a mix with his local boy status, longevity, commitment, loyalty, achievements, leadership and all-time iconic status.
The memories of Brian leading our team out during that golden period in the mid-to-late sixties will always remain with me. Of course there should have been a statue of Brian – – – I don’t believe I am being over-emotional in saying that, because he was number one out of all the countless players that have featured for us since 1901. Still, I am so glad he was there just a few years ago to be able to see that stand baptised in his honour. Just the greatest, a rock-solid genuine professional with no airs and graces. The best.