The Strange Case Of Barney Travers

Sunderland AFC's Barney Travers led an eventful life
Sunderland AFC’s Barney Travers led an eventful life

Barney Travers, Sunderland AFC

Born Sunderland 1894 Barney Travers started his footballing career with Sunderland Co-op, playing in the local Wednesday League. From there he moved to Oak Villa and Lambton Star, then Sunderland West End, before signing for Sunderland AFC in July 1919. He fought during WW1 and was taken prisoner, remaining a POW until The Armistice in November 1918.

A physical, no nonsense centre forward Travers played 63 times for Sunderland scoring an impressive 28 goals before he was transferred to Fulham on 21 February 1921 for a then club record £3,000 and a fee that equalled the British transfer record at that time.

It was at Fulham that he was suspended for life by the Football Association in April 1922 for offering an alleged £20 bribe to throw the South Shields v Fulham fixture at Horsley Hill in March 1921, although the attempted bribery was uncovered before damage was done.

Although Travers admitted he had travelled to the north east of England three days before the game, that was not unusual given that he had so many friends in the area.  Also, although he was charged on his own, it was hard to see how any match could be fixed by just one person.  The match was crucial, in that both Fulham and South Shields were challenging for promotion to Division One.  South Shields won 1 v 0.

The FA held the enquiry in secret, so that justice could not be seen to be done, and Travers career was forcibly ended. Barney made his way to Spain and subsequently travelled to Austria where he became Vienna Player Manager in May 1922. He returned to Sunderland where he had a fruit and veg stall in the then Town.

Travers was pardoned by the FA in 1945, at the age of 50, but no announcement was ever made about the involvement of other players or of Fulham FC.

Barney Travers SAFC Stats

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