It is with great sadness that we received news of the passing of Walsall FC President Barrie Blower in the early hours of Thursday morning at the age of 78.
Barrie was, without doubt, one of the most influential figures in the 131-year history of Walsall Football Club.
It was his leadership and the founding of the Save Walsall Action Group that in 1982 and 1986 saved league football in Walsall. If he and his colleagues had not prevented groundsharing, firstly with Wolves, and later Birmingham City, we would not have a Walsall Football Club today.
Barrie was a lifelong Saddlers fan, attending matches at Fellows Park from the immediate post-war years for the rest of his life, right up to our recent match against Wimbledon.
His was a fairytale story, the fan who stood on the terraces at the Hillary Street end, rising up to a place in the boardroom, and ultimately to become Chairman and later Club President.
Barrie was a remarkable man. His influence in the town spread far beyond the football club. After serving in the Royal Navy, on return to his hometown, he was determined to do something about the poor living conditions he found in Caldmore, the area where he had grown up. He founded the Caldmore Area Housing Association, which bought poor standard housing stock in the area, refurbished it, and provided good quality social housing for thousands of residents in the town.
He was also very active in local politics.
Barrie was essentially a 'people person'. He battled for the underdog. His driving force was to help the people who were experiencing difficulties, the homeless, the unemployed, single mothers, battered wives, immigrants facing discrimination, the people who had nothing.
He reached out to them all, but he could not have done it all by himself, and he would always pay tribute to his late wife Sharon, who was a source of great strength to him. People in Caldmore will still remember the Urban Farm, the seaside outings for local youngsters and senior citizens, the Caldmore Carnivals and much more.
The great claim that can be made for Barrie is that he improved people's lives. He provided homes, employment, a better environment, and did his best to brighten the lives of the town's people.
Barrie was a worthy recipient of the MBE.
He was a remarkable man. He had great powers of persuasion. It was he, in 1986, who persuaded Terry Ramsden to buy the club. This was a crucial move in keeping the club in the town, and he did the same in 1988, when again the club faced great difficulties, he was behind the introduction of new owners.
Barrie was the inspiration behind the move to Bescot in 1990. He played a major part in the negotiations with Walsall Council and saw the project through to fruition.
We have talked about his achievements. The man himself needs to be mentioned. He was a larger than life personality. He could not have done what he did without being determined, focused and incredibly hardworking. He was essentially an optimist, he always looked on the bright side, he could always see a way out of the most protracted problem. If you had a problem and asked Barrie for help he would always do his best for you.
If anyone cares to undertake the task of making a list of the greatest Walsallians of the 20th century, Barrie Blower is going to be right up there among the very best.
The last years of his life have been difficult. The tragic loss of his wife Sharon was devastating for him, and he has put up a courageous and long battle against failing health.
Nevertheless, his death has come as a great shock. It is difficult to imagine a matchday at Banks's Stadium without him.
Our deepest sympathy goes to his daughter Sadie, son in law Adam and grandson Connor on their sad loss. The town owes a great debt to Barrie and his name and memory will live as long as there is a Walsall Football Club.
Tribute by Roy Whalley
The club can confirm there will be a minute's applause at the Fleetwood game on 9th March to recognise Barrie's immense contribution towards Walsall Football Club so all the Blower family can attend to pay their respects.
Picture: Barrie (right) receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010