Club historians David Bull and Duncan Holley remember Barrie Hillier, who has died, aged 80.
Barrie Hillier was born in 1936 in Redcar, near Middlesbrough, the club for whom his goalkeeper father, Joe, played most of his League football. Bridgend-born Joe had previously played for Cardiff City and would finish his League career with Newport County. Family legend has it that he was selected, yet was never capped, for Wales.
In retirement, Joe became a publican in Gosport, where Barrie got to finish his schooldays. He soon signed for Southampton but, after a few games at right-back for the Reserves, he was called up for National Service with the Army. While stationed at Rhyl, he played as an amateur for Chester, though not in the League.
Returning to Southampton, he made his first-team debut in September 1957, in a 5-0 home win vs Queens Park Rangers. That season’s side was not an easy one to step into: in gung-ho fashion, they scored 112 Third Division goals but conceded 72, beating Bournemouth 7-0 at home, for instance, yet losing to them 5-2 away. Barrie played in that game at Dean Court, one of his nine appearances over that 1957-58 season and the next. These were mainly as a short-term stand-in for Tommy Traynor, a fixture who was steadily accumulating a record number of matches for the club. Which meant that Barrie was a near-regular in the Reserves, which he captained for a while.
Terry Paine, who featured in all nine of his senior appearances, describes him as a “swashbuckling, very aggressive” left-back, with a “lovely left foot.” But Barrie’s League days were numbered. In a bid to get promotion, manager Ted Bates let go of 14 players in the summer of 1959 and brought in 10 replacements. Hillier was one of three players – along with Pat Parker, with whom he did a bit of coaching in schools, and Bryn Elliott – who joined Southern League Poole Town, managed by ex-Saint, Mike Keeping.
Which meant that, as Bates’s revamped side was immediately winning their division – scoring 106 goals, while conceding 75 – Barrie Hillier was now playing part-time football as he began to develop a business career, becoming a marketing-director of a consumer-goods company in east Hampshire, from which he retired in 1998. A keen golfer, playing off a handicap in low single figures, Barrie had a long stint as the Over 50s captain at Stoneham Golf Club.
BARRIE GUY HILLIER
8 April 1936 – 10 December 2016