I got an email from Mark Jensen at The Mag telling me that our friend and colleague Barry McQueen had died aged 50.
Wifey and I met Barry twenty something years ago when he was working behind the bar at the 3 Bulls Heads. Many was the time we stayed for more drinks than was good for us because he such warm, friendly and hilarious company. We started hooking up for a drink or several irregularly through the years.
Most of the time we didn’t have to arrange to meet, we just bumped into each other. He liked Newcastle United, pubs and we sat within shouting distance of each other in The Leazes End so our paths were often going to cross. I can never remember a single occasion where we weren’t delighted to see him and it is difficult to comprehend that we won’t see him again.
Barry was probably a shade quieter than the hundred mile an hour shouting you get from most Newcastle fans when they have got a pre-match pint in their hand but his passion for the nufc cause, his perception and quick wit was a delight. He could knock the wind out of your sails with a smart observation and a wry smile. He brought the same quality to his regular page in The Mag. No grandstanding, half-arsed rabble-rousing, bad language and personal abuse to make his point, which was all the more worthy of consideration because of it. He also wasn’t the first bit interested in the petty politics it’s sometimes hard to duck when writing about Newcastle United.
If you were a Newcastle fan and you were introduced to Barry you already felt halfway to being his mate, in fact thinking about it he had as much time for any visiting fan I ever witnessed him introduced to. I think the crucial thing is that every friend of his he ever introduced us to was likeable, quick and warm as well. On the basis that you can judge a man by the company he keeps Barry was clearly a good man.
There are plenty of people who could speak more knowledgably about Barry McQueen than me. But the fact that a couple of people like Wifey and I who are, in actuality, little more than acquaintances feel like they have lost someone special speaks volumes. He will be thought of often and always with great affection.