200 club – No 5 – Jim Barry

Category: Heritage

200 club – No 5 – Jim Barry

Welshman Jim Barry joined Hull Kingston Rovers in 1901 from Rhondda Valley rugby union club Llwynypia. At that time, due to the then prosperity of the Welsh coalfields, Llwynypia were thriving club, boasting several international players. Sadly, they later became victims of the 1930s recession and folded, never to reform.

Like other fellow countrymen before and since, half-back Barry was tempted to seek fame and fortune in the semi-professional Northern Union, then in its infancy. He made his debut for Rovers in the opening game of the 1901/02 season, a 10-0 win away to Rochdale Hornets, in the off-half position.

That was Rovers’ third full season in the Northern Union, and the one in which they were exiled into the Lancashire Competition. Although not a prolific try-scorer, Barry took advantage of a rather hapless Radcliffe side with four tries in Rovers then record 71-0 win that season. Barry’s career at Rovers was characterised by the number of different half-back partners he played alongside, but at least in his first season he was partnered with the experienced William Guy in 15 of the 23 games; whilst on three occasions he was moved to scrum-half, and the legendary Sam Morfitt played alongside him at off-half.

The measure of the impact the Welshman had at Craven Street was evidenced by the fact that he was elected as vice-captain to another Rovers legend, Anthony Starks, in only his second season, and, somewhat incongruously, his talents were more widely recognised when he was selected to play for Yorkshire against Lancashire.

Barry was a regular fixture in the side over the eight full seasons that he was with the club. His most prolific season was 1906/07, when he scored 12 tries in 31 appearances – helped by two hat-tricks against lowly Liverpool City. The arrival of Arthur Booth from Swinton at the start of the 1907/08 season meant that Barry played almost exclusively at scrum-half during his last two full seasons with the Robins. He played in that position, this time alongside Jimmy Gordon, in Rovers first game against Australian tourists in November 1908 when they gained a famous 21-16 win.

In 1090/10, he played in the first two games alongside the newly-arrived signing from Bradford, Tommy Surman. Despite scoring a try in the opening game – a 30-7 home win over St Helens – and featuring in the next game, a home win over Oldham, he then lost his place and played only once more, in a 16-0 home defeat against Wakefield Trinity in November 1909.

In all, Jim Barry made 208 appearances for the Robins – scoring 41 tries and kicking nine goals. He was much more of an organiser and playmaker than a runner, but he was a very good player, and a vital cog in Rovers back division as they slowly established themselves in the NU. After his Rovers career ended, Jim Barry returned to his native South Wales.

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