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RIP Jack Barker

Jack Barker was first and foremost a great football man.

He loved the game and the best qualities that it provides to people involved in it

Jack Barker died on Friday morning at an aged care centre in Hampton. He was 84.

While in the last couple of decades he has always been referred to as “father of Trevor” a title he took great pride in, Jack Barker was also a footballer of the highest order in local ranks and deserving of the local legend title himself.

He played over 300 games for the Cheltenham Football Club and was twice best and fairest for the Rosellas. He was also runner-up in the Federal League’s best and fairest award.

After his senior days were finished with Cheltenham he continued as reserves playing coach, guiding that side to the 1958 premiership. In a twist of fate Cheltenham’s modern day reserves side is preparing for a Grand Final appearance this weekend.

Jack followed the fortunes of Cheltenham, Sandringham and St Kilda after his own playing career came to an end. He would see his son Trevor play senior football with Cheltenham as a teenager before an illustrious career at St Kilda that captured the hearts of the red, white and black faithful.

Later Trevor coached Sandringham to two premierships as his proud father looked on.

Jack had long been a keen track-watcher at Saints training sessions even before his son tragically passed away in 1996.

Jack was an institution at the Club, helping run Thursday night raffles in the dressing rooms and always being on hand in the rooms after a game to offer a word of solace or congratulation depending on the way the day had panned out.

To those players who had been teammates of his son it was important both for Jack and the Club that the link should always be maintained. The last Saint player to have played alongside Trevor Barker was Robert Harvey and he was always one of the first to chat with Jack after a game. Coach Ross Lyon also developed a great affinity with him, as did skipper Nick Riewoldt and the rest of the current team.

The familiar “who’d you think was best, pal?” was the perennial greeting after a game from a man with a keen eye for football and a genuine love of the Saints.

In 2008 when Cheltenham’s Weatherall Road ground was named the Jack Barker Oval, there was a huge turnout of Saints players to honour a man who was so much an integral part of the Club.

Jack was an elder of the Saint tribe and part of the fabric of the Club.