Geoff Barnett, former Everton reserve goalkeeper, dies at 74

Saturday, 16 January, 2021 11comments  |  Jump to last

Geoff Barnett, former Everton reserve goalkeeper from Harry Catterick's 1960s sides and understudy to Gordon West, died in Florida, age 74.

Geoff was scouted from local football, joining the club in May 1964, and won the FA Youth Cup with the Blues in 1965, alongside John Hurst and Jimmy Husband, but was unable to regularly dislodge Gordon West and Andy Rankin from Harry Catterick's fantastic sixties sides.

He kept a clean sheet on his debut against Sunderland at Goodison Park in November 1965 and made eight more appearances between the sticks that season, including the famous game at Blackpool when a 16-year-old Joe Royle made his debut at centre-forward in place of Alex Young.

Geoff played one more game for Everton, replacing Gordon West a week before the 1968 FA Cup final, before signing for Arsenal in 1969 after their No 1 goalkeeper Bob Wilson broke his arm early in the season. He would later team up again with Alan Ball at Highbury and played for the Gunners when they lost the 1972 FA Cup final at Wembley against Leeds United.

The keeper ended his football career in the USA with Minnesota Kicks, where he subsequently coached before the club folded in 1981. He eventually returned to England and ran a pub, the George & Dragon, in Holmes Chapel in his native Cheshire until 2010. Geoff retired to Florida, where he died on 15 January, age 74.


Reader Comments (11)

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Peter Mills
1 Posted 16/01/2021 at 12:22:01
Geoff was an excellent goalkeeper for the 1965 FA Youth Cup winning team. He clearly caught the eye of the losing finalists, Arsenal.

He didn’t let himself down when he played for the first team, but he found himself 3rd choice behind West and Rankin, two very good keepers.

He went on to have a decent career. RIP.

Dave Abrahams
2 Posted 16/01/2021 at 16:58:45
He was a decent goalkeeper and Everton got a very good fee for him when Arsenal had to sign him in a hurry after Bob Wilson’s broken arm left them short and they had to sign a replacement in a hurry.
Karl Masters
3 Posted 16/01/2021 at 00:09:08
Sounds like he had an eventful life.

It’s always sad to read of players I saw in team photos as a child passing away. I think he’s in the famous Summer of 69 team photo taken of what was to be a glorious Championship winning team, taken on a cloudless blue sky day at Bellefield. I had that photo on my bedroom wall in the mid 70’s as a kid. Bally in his white boots, Joe Royle with a crew cut hairstyle, Tommy Wright, Jimmy Husband, Alan Whittle ( Tom Davies’ uncle ) and the three goalies in their green jerseys - West, Rankin and Geoff Barnett...

Happy days. Reminds you that life is short. Make the most of it.

John Hughes
4 Posted 17/01/2021 at 18:08:14
Nice memory there Karl - loved that particular photo. And more importantly,RIP Geoff Barnett.
Phil Teece
5 Posted 19/01/2021 at 09:46:12
Geoff Barnett and I grew up together in Weaverham, Cheshire in the 1950s. We were enthusiastic players in the frequent street matches that went on for hours, rarely interrupted by traffic, since only one person in the street owned a car!

Geoff in those days was a very tall, curly-haired would-be centre-forward (often in a Sheffield Wednesday blue-and-white striped No 9 shirt, if memory serves me right). But, not long after this, he took up goalkeeping and soon starred for Mid-Cheshire Schoolboys when they famously made the national semi-finals and played Liverpool boys at Anfield – a great day out for us local lads.

That set him on the road to a professional career and an Everton scholarship. I never saw Geoff again after I left England for Australia just after Christmas 1965 (I'm still here) but I followed his career from afar and was thrilled when able to watch him playing for Arsenal in the FA Cup Final on TV.

Geoff was a terrific young bloke whom we were all very proud of. I read of his death with great sadness. Karl at 3 is spot on: life is terribly short.

Martin Mason
6 Posted 19/01/2021 at 10:20:04
Phil, I'm originally from Barnton growing up at the same time and watched those Mid-Cheshire versus Liverpool games. I may know you from then, did you go to John Deane's?
Trevor Powell
7 Posted 19/01/2021 at 12:30:30
I managed to get an original card-backed version of that photo, now framed on my wall off eBay a few years ago. That season was the first time I could afford a season ticket in the Gwladys Street End. I am sure I did see Geoff Barnett play but I always think of Andy Rankin as Gordon West's stand-in.

I remember, two old timers talking on the Old Swan Football Bus about who was better, West or Rankin. One claimed that Rankin made far more spectacular saves, but this was countered by the other as West did not have to make many spectaculars as his reading of the game and positional play were far better. Then, he struck the killer blow to the argument that Gordon Banks did not make many spectaculars because he read the game so well.

Sorry, I have drifted away from Geoff Barnett!

Phil Teece
8 Posted 19/01/2021 at 21:44:09
Martin @ 6: SJDGS 1956-62; Northwich Guardian 1962-65: thereafter Oz.
Martin Mason
9 Posted 19/01/2021 at 22:34:56
Sorry Phil, I went to SJDGS in 62-66. Did you have any other relatives there as I remember the name, would have been perhaps a year after me.
Jack Convery
11 Posted 23/01/2021 at 04:45:53
Saw him play in the reserves many times - a good keeper. Glad he was a success at Arsenal and played in a FA Cup Final. I bet he even voted for Biden. RIP.
Michael Low
12 Posted 23/01/2021 at 17:25:59
RIP Geoff Barnett. Karl#3 I had that same team photo. You’re so right... life has just zipped right by and when you see players that you watched regularly pass away, it really drives that message home - enjoy your life. I was also sad to hear of Harry Ross passing, he taught me in school for a couple of years. Bally was my hero and Kendall was the maestro. Take good care everyone!

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