- Born: 17 August 1926, Swindon, England
- Died: 14 March 2012, Bridgend, Wales
Ray Barlow was spotted playing for a Wiltshire-based works side by former Baggies centre-forward Jimmy Cookson. Cookson by then was a publican in Swindon, where Barlow was born in 1926.
His debut for Albion came in a War League Cup match on February 3rd 1945, in a 2-0 defeat to Walsall. His league debut came however against Newport County 28th September 1946, in a 7-2 victory with Barlow being amongst the scorers.
Following a brief spell as inside-forward, Barlow was converted to a left-half, although he was capable of filling in at the back or up front when needed. For most of the 1950s, Barlow, a tall, elegant playmaker, was to become the creative force of the great Albion side of that era.
He wasn’t shy in the tackle either, yet it was his close control and ability on the ball which captured the imagination. Barlow was a remarkably loyal man and, in an era where the team came before egos, he was more than happy to play where he was asked, famously once saying ‘Yes’ to a manager before the inevitable request for him to fill in elsewhere had been made.
He was a main figure in Albion’s push for the League and Cup double in 1954, playing a vital role in the 3-2 FA Cup final victory against Preston. It was a tackle on him by Tommy Docherty which earned Albion a penalty, converted by Ronnie Allen.
He said in an interview many years later that people always accused him of being the player who started diving for penalties, truth is Docherty could not keep up with him and the only way to stop him was to kick him. Between 1944-60 he made 482 appearances and scored 48 goals.
His final game for Albion was against Blackpool, 7th November 1959, in a 2-1 victory at The Hawthorns playing at center half. After leaving Albion he went on to play for Birmingham City before taking over a tobacconist and confectionery shop in West Bromwich.