Richard Barber to notch up 400th game for Kootingal on Saturday

MILESTONE: Richard Barber is a Kougar through and through. He'll play his 400th game for the Kootingal and District Football Club on Saturday. Photo: Peter Hardin
MILESTONE: Richard Barber is a Kougar through and through. He'll play his 400th game for the Kootingal and District Football Club on Saturday. Photo: Peter Hardin

Richard Barber’s career with the Kootingal Kougars is one forged by family and mateship.

It all started for Barber back in 1993 as a teenager.

The Kootingal senior side was being reformed – Barber’s uncle was a part of process – and Barber joined up.

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On Saturday, the 42-year-old will play his 400th game for the club.

It’s a proud moment for Barber – a privilege. He bleeds purple with deep roots in Kootingal, the place his father and uncles were brought up.

“We formed then [1993] and I’ve been with them ever since. We disbanded in 2002 for two years but I didn’t want to play for any other club so I didn’t play soccer,” Barber said.

“I followed the Kooty Roosters around and supported them for a couple years.

“We came back in 2004. I moved away to Broken Hill for a couple years. Then came back and been with them [Kootingal] for the past 10 years again.

“Locally, I haven't played for anyone else. I live and die by it [the club].”

The early days were tough for Kootingal.

Buses to Armidale would often result in “eight or nine” goal hidings.

But Barber said they slowly turned it around.

Two moments stand out for the Kootingal stalwart over the years.

Firstly was in 2001 when Barber said the side “came of age, so to speak”.

“We had North Armidale come down to Kootingal and we beat them. First ever time we beat them,” Barber said.

“They used to beat us six, seven nil and we actually beat them. It was one of our greatest ever wins in senior soccer because they were always the benchmark.”

Another time was 2005 when Kootingal won the premiership.

“We had all those years of struggle and my dad was the coach. My younger brother, my uncle and my cousin all played in the same team as well,” Barber said.

“That was, for me, one of the most memorable days.”

Barber has no plans of retiring, either. He wants to play as long as he can.

As for Saturday’s celebration, Barber was keen for a couple beers and to reminisce about all the good times.

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