Gordon Barbary was widely admired as a speedy wingman for Glenelg and South Australia before bowing out of senior football with a short season at Norwood in 1930. His son Barrie won many accolades as a player with North Adelaide, Woodville and South Australia.
Gordon was born in Moonta on 28 January 1905, one of three sons and six daughters of Martin Barbary and his wife Sarah, née Arbon. Gordon was captain of the Moonta District High School football team for three years and then played at Renmark for four seasons. On a visit home he played three games with the Moonta Turks and gained selection in a Yorke Peninsula representative team. He moved to Adelaide in 1925 but, because his employment took him to the country, played only with a junior club.
Gordon, 177 cm and 68 kg, made his league debut on the wing for Glenelg against West Torrens at Adelaide Oval on 4 June 1926 but early in his career at the Bay he tore ligaments in his left leg and needed medical care for six weeks. In four seasons with Glenelg he played 54 games, kicked nine goals and played half-back, wing, half-forward and ruck. He shone in his first interstate appearances as a brilliant wingman in the ANFC Carnival in Melbourne in 1927.
In his last season with Glenelg, Gordon endured a 20.10 to 6.19 drubbing at Norwood Oval on 29 June 1929 – and just up The Parade three hours later married Katherine Veronica Cahill, of Malvern, at the Norwood Wesley Church. The bride’s nephews, John and Darrell Cahill, sons of her brother John, would become notable players with Port Adelaide. Another of her brothers, Laurie, was a champion wingman with South Adelaide and Richmond.
Gordon started promisingly with Norwood in a lucky two-point win over North Adelaide in July 1930. North steamed home but Norwood just fell in, 11.5 to 10.9. Gordon was selected for the Australian carnival in Adelaide that year with Norwood colleagues ‘Wacka’ Scott (captain), Alick Lill and Harry Krome. He again did well but Victoria proved too strong despite a best-on-ground performance by Lill.
Gordon’s last league game was the semi-final against Port Adelaide. He had his moments but Norwood, without Scott and Lill, lost its bid for a second successive premiership, attacking fruitlessly for long periods before going down 7.14 to 6.14.
An electrician,Gordon also ran professionally and coached football. In 1932 he was appointed Millicent player-coach but was injured and left the club with £40 compensation. In 1948 he coached North Whyalla to the first premiership on Whyalla’s Memorial Oval. He coached the North Adelaide Junior Colts in 1954, Senior Colts in 1955-56 and Seconds in 1957.
Barrie Barbary was in those colts teams but was playing league by 1957. He would rack up 213 senior games for North Adelaide and Woodville, and 18 for SA, before retiring in 1970. He won the 1960 Magarey Medal and is inducted in the SA Football Hall of Fame with his cousin John Cahill. They were dominating wingmen in SA’s famous seven-point win over Victoria at the MCG in 1963, with Barrie best on the ground.
Gordon Barbary died at Plympton on 7 February 1964 and is buried at Centennial Park. He was the father of Rhonda, Robert and Barrie
P Robins, D Cox June 2020