The left-winger from Haverstock School

AFTER Oona King, David Miliband and Ed Miliband, Labour’s annual conference has got used to contributions from former Haverstock School pupils over the years. Step forward another… Mr John Barnes MBE, the England international football who was missed by Arsenal and Spurs’ scouts and ended up playing and rapping for Liverpool.

Big football fan Rishi Madlani, a Labour councillor in Bloomsbury, can be forgiven for joining the queue for selfies after a fringe meeting on tackling racism at the conference centre this evening. Someone asked for one from fellow panellist David Lammy too.

Barnes was not the only top league fooballer to come out of Haverstock: former West Ham players Joe Cole and Marlon Harewood did too. It wasn’t to be for lifelong nearlyman David Miliband, however, who once harboured dreams of making it as a pro.

The former Foreign Secretary wrote in an article for the Daily Mail (that paper had been so kind to his family, why wouldn’t he choose that publication) a few years ago that he didn’t get much of a game on the school pitches.

“We didn’t have much of the team, it was a 45-minute drive to the training ground in Edgware,” he said, referring to the facilities now used by Barnet FC but once used for Camden’s schools; there’s an aside here about whether the council was ever properly paid when the turf was sold. Miliband went on: “And anyway, I would never have got in. John Barnes, who went on to play brilliantly, if erratically, for Liverpool and England had the inside left position sewn up at Haverstock School.”


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