19th August 2020 was a sad day in Barnet Football Club’s history as another of the BFC family passed away. Reg Finch, who was at the club for 15 years, was an old school winger with outstanding games to goals ratio – he played a major part in the halcyon years of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Reggie played in 406 games for Barnet and scored 201 goals! That is legendary status at any club but when you realise he achieved this playing alongside goal-scoring machines of the class of Roger Figg, Les Eason, Tony Harding, Bobby Brown and Dennis D’Arcy. You may begin to understand why he is held in such high esteem by more senior Barnet supporters.
Reginald William Finch was born in Southgate in July 1936 and as a boy his team was Arsenal. He joined Barnet in 1953 as a 17 year old, turning heads and getting admiring glances in the Youth set up. His ex wife Kay told me that the great Lester Finch, no relation, knew he was going to play for the first 11 and that Reg always talked fondly of Lester whom he so admired. He was also great friends with Terry Casey and the D’Arcy Brothers. In fact he did make his debut aged 20 in March 1957 against Leyton in the Athenian League. Barnet were in a transitional period with a lot of veterans beginning to move on. The Bees lined up as follows:
Oddy, Mowle, Baker, D Ridley, Hawkins, Leggatt, Geddes, Cannon, Phipps, B Ridley and Finch. He became the first choice left-wing (number 11) from this point for the following 9 seasons.
He worked for the Fremlins Brewery on Hadley Common juggling his work with his football. Tragically, he broke his leg a week before the FA Amateur Cup semi-final in March 1959, obviously missing the final too at Wembley against Crook Town. He was back and playing, and scoring by the following September.
Reggie was part of the wonderful squad that won the Athenian League three times and were runners up three times between 1959-1965, plus he won a Southern League Division 1 winners medal in 1966. He signed professional terms with the club at the start of that season and in the opening game Barnet thrashed Hinckley Athletic 10-1 with Reg scoring a hatrick.
His last appearance for the club in the Southern League – although he played in a handful of reserve games after that – was in November 1967 when the following line drew 0-0 at Underhill v Corby Town:
Barr, Thompson, Jenkins, Casey, Roach, King, K Smith, Eason, Figg, K Searle and Finch. He joined Stevenage in the Summer of 1968.
He had married Kay in 1967 and they settled in East Barnet, they moved to Cheshunt in 1972 taking over as landlords of the George Inn public house in Turners Hill Cheshunt (now O’Shea’s). Not surprisingly the pub had a very successful football team.
In 1995 Reg emigrated to Austin,Texas to be near his two sons Sean and Adrian. The boys loved their football too and were heavily involved in promoting the game in the State. 4 years ago he moved to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. By now Reg had been diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease but this, according again to Kay, did not stop him from swimming and playing golf.
He is survived by his two sons, two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He kept in regular touch with Terry Casey until he passed away last year and his sister Audrey still lives in Enfield. His brother in law is Tony Edwards who also played for the club over 100 times.
Here are a selection of comments from the Barnet FC Messageboard
“Great memories Reg, may you rest in peace” Hoppy.
“The club held a Testimonial game to thank him for his services in September 1966, he would fly down the wing with or without the ball!” Dick Rolf
“A true Barnet great” Norfolk Bee
“I can see him so vividly, so sorry, played in a great period for the club” Churchill
“My favourite all time Barnet Player” Richard M
“The left winger when I starting supporting the club, lovely player” Ches Bee
“Very sad, a left winger who scored 30 goals a season, amazing. His Father Ernie was a regular in the Crown and Anchor in Barnet” Derek Scott.
“I can still see that craggy face and bandy legs, but what a player. Looking at a picture now of Reg in a team from 1962 on my lounge wall” Fordy.
“Reg would stand on the halfway line chatting to the crowd while the defence was doing the job. He even asked a chap for a drag on his fag once as a laugh” Paul
“One of my favourites and a major factor in me following the Bees “ Barnet Boy
He passed away on August 19th 2020 aged 84. RIP Reggie Finch.
The last words are with Kay who remained close to Reg until the end. “He always wanted his ashes to go back to Barnet”