We’re back at home tomorrow to face Salford City and following the passing of our Under 18s manager Chris Barker on New Year’s Day, we have dedicated our matchday programme ‘We Are FGR’ to his memory.
Still priced at just £3, the programme has a fitting tribute to Barks from the FGR and his former clubs, we’ve gathered together the words used by friends and colleagues on social media in the wake of the news and also put together some fond memories from those who knew Barks best, his Under 18s team.
Here is a look inside the special edition for our match with Stevenage…
A tribute to Chris Barker…
On New Year’s Day, Forest Green Rovers and the world of football lost a true gent of the game with the passing of Under 18s manager Chris Barker.
The news sent shockwaves through the club, where he had had such a big impact since his arrival in 2017.
Having made more than 500 Football League appearances for eight League clubs during a career that spanned nearly two decades, Barks was a much-loved character, with tributes pouring in from former clubs, teammates and friends in the wake of the news.
"We're all heartbroken,” said Hannah Dingley, Head of Academy, Forest Green Rovers.
“The news came as a shock to everybody. Our immediate thoughts are with his family and friends.
“Barks was a strong, inspirational leader to our under 18s and a much loved colleague. We'll be offering help and support to those at the club affected by the tragic news - particularly our young players, and ask that Chris’ family get some privacy at this challenging time.”
READ THE FULL TRIBUTE IN THE PROGRAMME.
For 142 appearances
For countless defensive headers and tackles
For always giving your all
For being a true gent off the pitch #RIPBarks
A touching minute of applause inside Pride Park has taken place, in memory of former Reds defender, Chris Barker. Once a Red, Always a Red.
Absolutely devastating news. A truly great guy looked after me when I signed for qpr will never forget that. Rest in Peace Barks.
FGR Academy – Chris Barker
So many great times with Barks but mostly he was just the best person to be around, always laughing and messing around. His catch phrases, “see you in 12 hours” at the end of the day, “bring your wallet” but he’d always pay, to getting Jen to practice headers across the desk with a little plastic ball or hearing his antics whilst out walking Scooby. We’d talk about football for hours and take the mickey out of each other non-stop. When he said something funny, I’d look over at his desk with his back to me and I’d just see his shoulders bobbing up and down.
Jonty Welch – Academy secretary
Barks was always so supportive, and he drove us on. He’d say, “Jonesy, you’re going to be like Mo Farah at the end of this scholarship”.
He always did such inspiring/motivational team talks, but he was funny at the same time. He’d tell us, “being a footballer is like Groundhog Day”.
How to get your programme:
Official Forest Green Rovers programmes will be available for sale at £3 from our volunteer sellers around The New Lawn.