The following article appeared in ‘Goal’ magazine in the late 60’s:
‘As many full-backs know, Queen’s Park Rangers raider Barry Bridges has quite a turn of speed. And now he may put it to effective use outside footballby competing in the big professional New Year’s Day sprint at Powderhall.
The potential of Bridges as a possible sprinter – a handicap event over 120 yards – was first noticed by Ron Jones, who captained the British Olympic Games team in Mexico. Jones takes Rangers through tough training sessions twice a week. His task is to increase players’ speed off the mark. It was during one of these sessions that Jones suggested to Bridges that he tried his luck at Powderhall. Bridges reply was; “if it doesn’t interfere with football, I wouldn’t mind having a go.”
He would not be the first professional footballer to run at Powderhall. Some years ago a Liverpool full-back named Harley ran in itand won.
And in the years just after the Second World War, Tommy McLean, a wing-half with Middlesbrough and Northampton, took part. Although McLean didn’t win at Powderhall, he won the almost equally important Morpeth sprint. All of which ponders the question: Who is soccer’s sprint champion?
He doesn’t have to be a winger, although they always seem to get most credit for speed. Powderhall winner Harley was a full-back and Morpeth victor McLean was also a defender. So it is far from a foregone conclusion that the speedy Bridges is the fastest man in football today.
At Birmingham, they reckon the fastest man around is full-back Bobby Thomson. And West Bromwich players have a tough task keeping John Osborne in their sights when they are sprinting. And of course, speed merchant Osborne is a goalkeeper. It would take quite a lot of research to really come up with the fastest footballer, but several names come to mind.
Leicester have winger Len Glover, whose sprints can leave most defenders standing. Nottingham Forest have Ian Moore, who won quite a number of sprint titles in his schooldays. The north-east could be represented by Newcastle forward Alan Foggon. During his schooldays – that wasn’t very long ago – he represented England schools at sprinting and was also a Northumberland champion.
The whole question of speed among soccer man will never be sorted out until there is a competition for thema soccer sprint championship. Meanwhile, if Bridges decides to have a go at Powderhall, he will have the backing of all footballers south of the border. There is just one thing, he doesn’t have to enter under his own name; or, if he does, he can use all manner of disguises in training.
For Powderhall is the centre of big betting in the sprinting world. And, as any punter will admit, if you want to keep the price nice and high, don’t tell anyone how good your man is. But off a handicap of eight yards, Barry Bridges would get odds at about 4 to 1 in the qualifying heats. And much less if he got through to the final.’
Not surprisingly, Barry Bridges was a sprint champion at school and apart from him, other Rangers speed merchants that spring to mind include; Wayne Fereday, Clive Clark and Johnny Poppitt.
Bridges moved on to Millwall in September 1970.