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Dick Barlow

Dick Barlow
Personal information
Full name Richard Gorton Barlow
Born (1851-05-28)28 May 1851
Bolton, England
Died 31 July 1919(1919-07-31) (aged 68)
Blackpool, England
Nickname Dick
Batting style Right-handed
Bowling style Left arm medium
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 29) 31 December 1881 v Australia
Last Test 1 March 1887 v Australia
Domestic team information
Years Team
1871–1891 Lancashire
Umpiring information
Tests umpired 1 (1899)
Career statistics
Competition Test First-class
Matches 17 351
Runs scored 591 11,217
Batting average 22.73 20.61
100s/50s 0/2 4/39
Top score 62 117
Balls bowled 2,456 43,468
Wickets 34 950
Bowling average 22.55 14.52
5 wickets in innings 3 66
10 wickets in match 0 14
Best bowling 7/40 9/39
Catches/stumpings 14/– 268/–
Source: CricketArchive, 2 October 2009

Richard ("Dick") Gorton Barlow (28 May 1851 in Barrow Bridge, Bolton, Lancashire, England – 31 July 1919 in Stanley Park, Blackpool, Lancashire, England) was a cricketer who played for Lancashire and England. Barlow will be best remembered for his batting partnership with A N Hornby, which was immortalised in nostalgic poetry by Francis Thompson. He was also an umpire and a football referee, including at the record 26-0 score between Preston North End and Hyde in the FA Cup.[1]


  • Overview 1
  • At Lord's 2
  • The Ashes urn 3
  • Test career 4
  • Epilogue 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7


Cricket was engrained in Barlow from an early age, and he went on to play for Lancashire for 20 years and continued to play at lower levels into his sixties. Before this he had left school aged fourteen to work in a printing office as an apprentice compositor. He was later an iron moulder with Dobson & Barlow in Bolton, and then in 1865 he moved to Derbyshire when his father got work at the Staveley Iron Works. It was for Staveley Iron Works Cricket Club that Barlow first played cricket, becoming a cricket professional with Farsley in Leeds in 1871, which was the year in which he first played for Lancashire. From 1873 to 1877 he was the professional for Saltaire in Bradford. Barlow played one match for Derbyshire in the 1875 season against a United North of England Eleven.

Barlow was 5 ft 8 inches tall and weighed approximately eleven stone. He was strong and sturdily built. Barlow was known for his defensive batting, which made it hard to dismiss him, and which earned him the nickname Stonewaller. On one occasion he scored no runs in a partnership of 45 with AN Hornby, who was dismissed for 44. Barlow was also a good bowler with much variation.

According to a (possibly apochryphal) story related by Alan Gibson, Barlow was working as a railway porter when Hornby first encountered him. Hornby happened to see him batting against the bowling of the station-master, and asked if he might have a bowl himself. "Ay, do," was the reply. "He's been in for a fortnight."[2]

At Lord's

Barlow is immortalised in one of the best-known pieces of cricket poetry, a poem called At Lord's by Francis Thompson. In it Thompson remembers back watching Barlow and A N Hornby play for Lancashire through rose-tinted glasses. The first verse of the poem, which is repeated as the final verse is the best known:

  It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
       Though my own red roses there may blow;
   It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
      Though the red roses crest the caps, I know.
   For the field is full of shades as I near a shadowy coast,
   And a ghostly batsman plays to the bowling of a ghost,
   And I look through my tears on a soundless-clapping host
      As the run-stealers flicker to and fro,
         To and fro:
      Oh my Hornby and my Barlow long ago!

The Ashes urn

Barlow took part in the original Ashes match and is commemorated by the poem pasted on the side of the urn:

  When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn;
  Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return;
  The welkin will ring loud,
  The great crowd will feel proud,
  Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn;
  And the rest coming home with the urn.

Test career

England team with Dick Barlow as umpire, Billy Gunn, J T Hearne (12th man), Bill Storer (wkt kpr), Bill Brockwell, V A Titchmarsh (umpire). Middle row: C B Fry, K S Ranjitsinhji, W G Grace (captain), Stanley Jackson. Front row: Wilfred Rhodes, Johnny Tyldesley.

Barlow played seven times for England against Australia in England: in the match which gave rise to the Ashes at the Oval in 1882; and at Lord's, the Oval, and Old Trafford in 1884 and 1886. He made no big score in these matches, but his partnership with Allan Steel was the turning point of the game at Lord's in 1884, and at Manchester, in 1886, his steadiness pulled England through when the Australian bowlers were in deadly form on a slightly crumbled wicket. Moreover he took seven wickets for 44 runs in Australia's second innings. In 1884 at Trent Bridge, for the North of England against the Australians, Barlow played the game of his life. He scored not out 10 and 101 and took ten wickets—four for six runs and six for 42. It is on record that when the North started their second innings on a slow and nasty wicket, Fred Spofforth, Australia's Demon bowler said, "Give me the ball: they won't get more than 60". As events turned out they got 255, Barlow and Flowers putting on 158 runs together after five wickets had fallen for 53. At the end of that afternoon Barlow was a very happy man. Barlow paid three visits to Australia, going out with Alfred Shaw and Arthur Shrewsbury in 1881/1882, with the Hon. Ivo Bligh in 1882/3, and again with Shaw and Shrewsbury in 1886/1887. He played in every match of all three tours.

On the first of those tours, after scoring 75 at Sydney against New South Wales, a local wag presented Barlow with a commemorative belt. "I thought we had the champion sticker in Alec Bannerman," said the wag, "but you've fairly won the belt."


Near the end of his life Barlow was quoted in the Manchester Guardian: "I don't think any cricketer has enjoyed his cricketing career better than I have done, and if I had my time to come over again I should certainly be what I have been all my life - a professional cricketer".

Barlow had a wife, Harriet, and a daughter, Eliza. He died 31 July 1919 in Stanley Park, Blackpool, and is buried in Layton Cemetery. On his tombstone is inscribed 'bowled at last'.

Dick Barlow's grave


  1. ^ Taw, Thomas (2006). Football's Twelve Apostles: The Making of The League 1886–1889. p. 50.  
  2. ^ Alan Gibson, The Cricket Captains of England, The Pavilion Library, 1989, p41.


  • At Lord's by Francis Thompson
  • Cricinfo page on Dick Barlow
  • Wisden obituary, which appeared in 1920, is now out of copyright and is borrowed from in part in this article
  • CricketArchive page on Dick Barlow
  • Brief profile of R.G.Barlow by Don Ambrose
  • Lancashire player number 73 - Barlow, Richard Gorton by Don Ambrose
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