In 2012, Millwall football legend Barry Kitchener died aged 64. It was a sad day for Milwall fans with the news that Big Kitch, the gentle giant center-half, has passed.
From 16, he went on to make over 602 appearances, which is still a record. The youngster signed for the Lions as a 16-year-old and played left-back in the youth and reserve teams before transitioning to the first team in 1967.
He was converted into a center-half to take the place of Bryan Snowdon upon his retirement and made the number-five shirt his own before hanging up his boots in 1982.
His career as a player ended in 1982 when he continued with the club as a youth and reserve team coach, inspiring the next generation of youngsters. Before George Graham was appointed, he managed a handful of matches as the caretaker manager.
A True Professional
Former teammate Derek Smethurst once said, “Big Kitch was a true professional from the old school who would run through a brick wall for you and always be there to back you up. That was on the soccer field and off the field. The warrior centre half was the nicest man you could want to meet and would do anything for you. We are going to miss him.”
When Barry Raymond Kitchener was 16, the Dagenham-born defender was spotted in Essex by a Millwall scout. His professional career began in 1965, as he played left-back for the youth team and reserves. Then, in February 1967, he made his senior debut as a substitute for Den idol Harry Cripps.
Between the middle 1960s and early 1980s, Barry Kitchener was the epitome of Millwall’s indefatigable spirit with his rugged looks and flowing locks.
He hurled himself fearlessly into every game with inspirational relish. Every professional loves having a reliable teammate like Barry Kitchener beside them.
The Milwall Player Of The Century
He played an incredible 244 consecutive games for the Lions, compiling a club record of more than 600 senior appearances. Nevertheless, regular Milwall fans regarded him as unfortunate not to have played in England’s top division.
The Milwall hero and his wife ran a souvenir business in Norfolk after retiring from coaching. As a regular visitor to the Den, the Milwall star will always be regarded as a legend.
A list of the top 100 professional football players has been compiled by The Professional Footballers Association in celebration of its Centenary Year.
In celebration of the Football League’s 100-year anniversary, one player will be selected from each of the 100 professional clubs.
After 12 days of fierce voting and a real battle between Kitch, ‘Arry Boy, Terry Hurlock, Neil Harris, and Keith Weller, Lions legends Kitch and ‘Arry Boy were neck and neck going into the final couple of hours.
But club appearance record holder Barry Kitchener squeezed his way into the Centenary Hall of Fame by just five votes to clinch the crown
The final positions were:
- Barry Kitchener
- Harry Cripps
- Terry Hurlock
- Neil Harris
- Keith Weller
- Teddy Sheringham
- Alec Stepney
- Eamon Dunphy
- Gordon Hill
- Charlie Hurley
The Dagenham-born defender died on 30th March 2012 after a short battle with cancer. The West Stand was named after him. Its new name is the Barry Kitchener Stand.
Barry Kitchener Facts And Figures
Full Name: Barry Raymond Kitchener
Birthplace: Dagenham, England
- Millwall 1966–1982
Total Appearances: 602 matches
Total Goals: 25 goals
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!