Sad goodbye to a true gent - Great Yarmouth Town mourn the loss of vice-chairman John Barnden

John Barnden

John Barnden - Credit: Archant

Glowing tributes have been paid to Great Yarmouth Town's vice-chairman John Barnden after he sadly lost his long battle with leukaemia this week.

The 79-year-old passed away peacefully on Monday night at the James Paget Hospital with two of his three sons by his bedside.

Bloaters boss Mike Derbyshire said: 'It's a great loss from the club's point of view. John was extremely helpful during what was pretty much one of the darkest periods in the club's history when we were on the verge of going out of business.

'John was always very positive and very active, despite his advancing years. Where other people would see a negative, he would see a positive.

'He was great to work with as he not only saw a possible solution but he acted upon it. He was always ready with an answer.

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'He was keen to re-engage with the community and he wasn't just a talker. He went out and did it, and that was tremendous.'

Barnden was about to go into his third season on the Yarmouth board – his second as vice-chairman – and had already driven a hugely successful youth development scheme.

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He introduced a number of junior teams to the club's set-up and has paved the way for a continued stream of talented players to progress into Derbyshire's team – just as his grandson George Barnden has.

'Once the club was stabilised he pushed forward with the youth development programme. It was his baby.' said Derbyshire.

'It's a fitting legacy and we'll do everything we can to keep bringing players through at Yarmouth in his name. Even when he was very ill he never neglected his duties. He couldn't have done a better job.'

Yarmouth wore black armbands in their friendly at Caister last night and held a minute's silence before the game. Plans for an annual youth team match in Barnden's memory, between Yarmouth and another club, are well underway. The first could be held at The Wellesley as early as August.

Chairman Colin Jones said: 'He was only here for a couple of years but the mark he left was huge in terms of developing a youth structure, which we hope to continue and honour. He was somebody I had the greatest respect and admiration for and he was a great help as my vice-chairman. It is a sad loss for us all.'

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