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Gareth Barry - 390 Appearances and counting: Arthur Dorrell


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OutByEaster writes....

Or I guess that should be “and counting?”

It’s been a while now since we started to track Gareth on his journey through Villa’s all time appearance record holders and with the game against Everton he’ll have made it up to 12th, passing Arthur Dorrell and Dicky York as he goes.

It was 2006 when the club magazine plopped onto my mat with an article on Gareth’s 300th appearance and a list of those who’d also made more than 300. It remains an exclusive club that hasn’t been joined by anyone else since and won’t be for at least another four or five years.

Gareth has climbed that list steadily over the last couple of seasons, making his way up to the position he’ll attain today by playing against Everton and overtaking Arthur and Dicky. In the process he’s treated us to performances for both club and country that have more than justified his presence amongst those at the top of this list.

This is the most difficult of these articles to write.

Gareth’s future is unclear, he has an opportunity to join friends at a club where he’s more likely in the next couple of years to win trophies and in doing so he has a chance to significantly increase his income and perhaps his profile. That seems a straightforward enough choice, but he’ll be giving up a whole lot.

He’d be leaving the only club he’s played for, and what’s more he’ll be leaving it just as it’s finally blossoming. European football in some form or another looks increasingly likely at Villa Park next season for the first time in five seasons and having strived for years to get us here it would seem a pity if Gareth were to not enjoy the fruits of his labour.

We’ve become everyone’s favourite second team, playing some of the leagues most exciting football with some of the leagues most exciting young players and a talented manager of character and reputation who has a belief and faith in Gareth.

He remains at the hub if everything we do, a central figure both on and off the pitch. He’s the face of this reinvigorated Villa, its totem. He would be giving that up to be a marginal figure at Anfield.

Gareth has mentioned his place in Villa’s history before, and I know he’s aware of his place in it. He’s mentioned Charlie Aitken’s record of 660 appearances in interviews; he has a testimonial lined up and a DVD on release shortly to remind him of his value and place.

I’m sure this isn’t a decision that rests lightly on Gareth shoulders and in truth it probably isn’t an easy one for him to make but I hope he chooses the right club, and I sincerely believe that it’s this one.

390 appearances makes Gareth the player who has played 12th most games for Aston Villa in our 134 year history, here are the two players he will have passed this weekend in order to get there;

Arthur Reginald Dorrell

Arthur Dorrell was born in small heath in 1896 but was kept on the path of the righteous by his father, a former Villa player himself who moved the family to Leicester soon after he was born.

Arthur was an excellent athlete, but those pesky Germans held up his footballing career; Arthur serving queen and country during World War One.

During the war Arthur found time to demonstrate his athletic prowess, winning the 100-metre title at the 1916 French Athletics Championship.

He joined Villa after the war in May 1919 at the ripe old age of 23 (Gareth had already played more than 200 games by the time he was that age!) and made his debut against Derby later that year.

A quick and lively left-winger with more than a touch of artistry about him, he began establishing himself in the Villa side almost immediately. He was presented with a place in the FA Cup final team of 1920 after Harold Edgely was unfortunate enough to break his leg, and supplied the cross for the winning goal as we overcame Huddersfield 1-0.

He appeared in a second cup final in 1924, but will have been disappointed to finish in the losing side to a team we’d beaten 6-1 only a few days before.

He played four times for England, scoring once against France in Paris, nine years after he’d won his 100-metre title there.

He left Villa for Port Vale in 1931, before retiring to run the Pelham Arms on Alum Rock, where he died in 1942.

Richard Ernest “Dicky” York

Dicky York was born in Handsworth in 1899 directly opposite Villa cross where Aston Villa had been formed. It seems then that he was destined to represent the club from birth, and despite preferring rugby he signed for Villa as a youth in 1915 at just sixteen.

Like Arthur though, he’d have to wait for his Villa career to get started. He served with the Royal Flying Corps during World War One.

Also in common with Arthur, Dicky was a fine athlete and represented Birchfield Harriers on a number of occasions.

A right-winger by trade, Dicky was quick and direct with a powerful shot, he also played up front from time to time and was an excellent taker of corners and set pieces.

He started to appear in Villa's side in the same year as Arthur, but was unlucky not to make the Cup Final winning team of 1920. He played in the 1924 final, but sadly defeat there meant that he was never to win a major honour with Villa.

He played twice for England, both times against Scotland and both in defeat, and left Villa Park with Arthur to join Port Vale in 1931.

Following his retirement he worked as an advisor to Birmingham’s Council on re-building work after the Second World War and later went on to run a building company in Coventry.

He returned briefly to Villa Park as coach of the third team in the 1948-49 season and was also one of the authors of the book “How to play soccer by four famous players.”

He died in 1969 aged 70.

It’s strange that two players that started their Villa careers together should finish up with such fine records, I would think that they were good friends judging by their choice to go to Port Vale together at the end of their careers, and with their athleticism and pace, I like to think of them as the Gabby and Ash of their day.

Gareth has now equaled the achievement of both players in terms of appearances, and at 27 he has an opportunity to achieve an awful lot more.

If he decides to stay, this autumn will see his 400th appearance for Villa, making him one of only 10 players to achieve that feat. A season of UEFA cup football could see him finish the season as high as eighth, two seasons might see him into the top four in Villa appearances before he reaches thirty.

His form is currently excellent, and he surely can’t help but be enjoying himself in Villa’s midfield. Our future is bright at the moment, brighter still if he remains a part of it; I very much hope he sees it that way too.

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[table][mrow]Pos [mcol] [mcol]Appearances[mcol]

[row]1st [col]Charlie Aitken[col]660

[row]2nd [col]Billy Walker[col]531

[row]3rd [col]Gordon Cowans[col]528

[row]4th [col]Joe Bache[col]474

[row]5th [col]Allan Evans[col]474

[row]6th [col]Nigel Spink[col]460

[row]7th [col]Tommy Smart[col]452

[row]8th [col]Johnny Dixon[col]430

[row]9th [col]Dennis Mortimer[col]406

[row]10th [col]Billy George[col]401

[row]11th [col]Eric Houghton[col]392


He'll pass one more by the end of the season, and then if he were to stay he could make real progress over then next couple of years.

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What an excellent article! Great to be reminded of our distinguished history with such personal pen pictures.

Gareth Barry is the heartbeat of our emerging team and a midfield dynamo in his own way. The way his strength has developed in the last couple of seasons has been particularly noticeable.

With all this talk of England captains, Mr Capello could do far worse than consider Gareth. Always a quiet influential character on the field he is noticeably more vocal this season (maybe that's NRC's influence?). A true gentleman off the field who always has time for the fans and sets a positive example for his club and profession.

If you do read this Gareth, nobody could begrudge you a move to the top four. You have been an outstanding servant for our great club. But look at the team spirit epitomised yesterday. Wouldn't it be great to continue to be part of that as we wish push on to that next level?

Villa fans everywhere are praying that Gareth makes the 'right decision' and that is to stay in B6.

Thanks again for the article. It is this quality of imput that puts VillaTalk at the fore in Villa related forums.

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Great stuff Scott. Really enjoyed that, especially considering the 2 players mentioned are players I'm currently collating in my 'project' ;) Dorrell and York were both quite prolific scorers alongside the likes of Billy Walker, Tom 'Pongo' Waring, G.Brown Dai Astley & Eric Houghton.

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I would like to think Gareth might read this and appreciate just what a part he can play in the shaping of the bright future of this great football club as he rubs shoulders on the list with such Villa greats from the past who in their time with us contributed so much to our proud past.

The grass is not always greener on the other side. It has often been said that the days of one player staying with a club and showing true loyalty by doing so (as did Aitken and the likes of Terry Payne in the past) are over. Gareth has the opportunity to show that it is not all about money for him and he should back himself, his team, his manager, his chairman and the staff at his club to ensure he does not retire without medals to add to our appearance record.

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