Romford FC hero and all-round “Mr Football”, Tommy Barnett, has sadly died at the age of 85.

Known for his goal-scoring exploits for the club, Tommy made the move from Margate to Romford for a fee of £200 in 1962. He went on to score 201 goals in 479 appearances - only one of which was a penalty.

Steve Gardener, chairman and treasurer of Romford FC, said “those of a certain age that remember him have said that he was probably the best player Romford had, and a prolific goal scorer in the ‘60s”.

His last match in a Boro shirt was a 0-0 draw with King’s Lynn in April 1970, and after that Tommy stayed in football for a number of years, first playing for Bexley United before becoming player-manager at St Albans City and then managing Hoddesdon Town and Hertford Town.

%image(15307359, type="article-full", alt="Tommy Barnett, pictured, joined Romford FC from Margate in 1962 for £200, and was described by Romford's current chairman and treasurer, Steve Gardener, as a "prolific goal scorer in the '60s"")

Tommy’s son, Gary Barnett, said his dad was “just Mr Football”.

A fan of the sport through-and-through, Gary said Tommy “loved to show that he was a professional footballer” and that he would often take him to games as a kid.

“I was like his sidekick," Gary said. “I was always with him.”

In later life, Tommy and his family owned The Gate pub in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, a big real ale pub that they initially got the lease for in 1988.

A favourite watering hole of Boro fans when Romford played Sawbridgeworth or Harlow Town away, Gary said running the pub was “very hard in the early days” but ended up thriving.

Gary said the response he has received following his father’s death has been “just amazing”, a testament to the impact he had on the club.

“What a life he has had," Gary said, adding: “He was my mate, not my dad really. I have lost a mate.”

%image(15307361, type="article-full", alt="Tommy Barnett, on the left, with his daughter, Tracy, and wife, Jean")

Tommy passed away on March 14 at James Paget Hospital, after a battle with liver and lung cancer.

He is survived by his two children, Gary and Tracy, and his wife Jean, with whom he would have celebrated 62 years together in June.

As the footballing accolades and support from fans continue to pile in, Gary said he has felt a deep sense of admiration for all that his father achieved.

“I am proud that he was my dad.”

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