Friends and former teammates remember city sporting star
IF ONE considers rugby circles in Kimberley, then the Barnes family was to Thistle as the Jacobs and Damons families were to Collegians, and what the Fredericks and Carls families were to Universal.
Desmond Barnes was an excellent all-round sportsman, but rugby was always his favoured sporting code. He started as an athlete at Endeavour Primary School in Kimberley, where his speed was recognised by one of his teachers, and he was drafted into the school’s rugby team. He progressed to Floors High School, where he represented the athletics and rugby teams with distinction.
At senior level, Desmond first started playing for Young Lions RFC, where as a youngster he rubbed shoulders with former greats like Ronnie Burger, Marlo Barnes and Doesie Adams, to name a few.
The Barnes family moved to Utility and lifelong friendships with the Gordon and Markham families prompted Desmond him to join Thistle RFC.
Desmond, being the eldest son, followed by Neville, Eddie, Stephen and John, all played rugby for Thistle RFC. He set the example for his siblings, playing at a very high and “aggressive” level.
His regular position was on the wing but in his later years he also played some of his rugby at No number 8 – (when he lacked a bit of pace).
He captained and coached at club and provincial level and was also a Griqualand West Rugby Football Union (GWRFU) selector and referee.
His prime achievements include selection in the GWRFU team for many years, playing in the SA Cup and being invited to the SARU trials in the 70s.
Desmond scored many tries in his rugby career – dashing down the touchline in his Thistle or GWRFU jersey, bulldozing opponents and would-be tacklers.
Desmond was a “feared” opponent who did not back down for any challenge. On defence, he was devastating, and became well-known for his crash-tackling.
He also played cricket and soccer during his earlier years and was responsible for arranging sponsorships for clubs in all codes of sport at the time when he was employed at Fainman’s Furniture.
In his retirement years, Desmond relocated with his family to Cape Town.
Message from his friend and former teammate Eddie Gedult:
“It is with heartbreaking sadness that I have to inform you that DESMOND “DOGGIE“ BARNES departed this life this Wednesday evening 25 November 2020. He was a bosom friend with talent and determination. A teammate who represented Thistle RFC and GW with fervour and attained many achievements. Thistle RFC and GWRFC are filled with admiration and are deeply appreciative of the example he has set for future rugby players. Our friendship was forged in a struggle against injustice and socio-economic challenges. I SALUTE YOU MY FRIEND! Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord and may light perpetual shine upon him. May his dear soul Rest In Peace and rise in glory.”