Harty on . . . Angela Barnwell and the new football TV deal


I RECENTLY looked after the funeral arrangements for former Worthing Swimming Club (WSC) stalwart Marjorie Bowley, and her family kindly lent me a fascinating scrap book of Worthing Gazette and Herald cuttings, compiled by her late husband Les more than 60 years ago.

Aside from being an integral part of WSC, Les was also one of the coaches of Worthing Olympian Angela Barnwell. As a 16-year-old, she represented Great Britain in the women’s 100 metres freestyle final at the 1952 Games in Helsinki.

Reading through the clippings, it again re-iterated the huge opportunity Worthing Borough Council missed out on when naming the new swimming complex.

That’s taking nothing away from the two young girls who won the competition to name the pool ‘Splashpoint’, but that contest was only put in place after the Angela Barnwell proposal was rejected.

It was by reading Mr Bowley’s cuttings that I learned that, two years after her Olympic appearance, by then aged 18, Angela missed out on qualification to the 1954 Empire Games in Vancouver by a 20th of a second.

Sadly, as we all know, ill health not only cut short Angela’s swimming career but also ended her life in her 20s.

But, to recap on her story, here was a girl who, at 12, regularly walked or cycled from her home in Orchard Avenue, Tarring, to Heene Baths, and effectively taught herself to swim. She then joined the swimming club, before going on to Olympic triumph and a near miss with the Empire Games.

Clearly, back then, she was appreciated by the town as it’s reported on her return from Finland, she was met at the town hall by then mayor, Rita Summers, and a large crowd of local people.

What an inspirational story, which could have been recounted for future generations by having her name associated with the new swimming complex.

Clearly, not for the first time, I was barking up the wrong tree and my suggestion was greeted with the response of ‘Angela Barnwell is the past, we want to look to the future’.

One day, I hope I get the chance to remind that particular councillor that without the past, we don’t have either a present or a future.

Perhaps the council, by way of some kind of recompense, can think about naming any future new roads after one of the greatest sporting teenagers this town has ever produced?

n So, in a perfect world, the new £5.1billion TV deal for the Premier League television rights will see millions of pounds filter down into grassroots football, with most schools, colleges and public parks having a 3G or even 4G facility installed.

With multiple all-weather pitches freely available, postponements would all but become a thing of the past, with all the young players’ development, at all levels, further enhanced on the superior surfaces.

Alternatively, the big clubs will get even richer, more foreign players will flock to the Premier League to be paid extortionate wages, with their respective agents walking away with vast sums of commission.

I wonder which scenario is more likely to happen?