Stratford, East London born inside forward Billy Barnes played as a teenager for Thames Iron Works (soon to be re-named West Ham United) in 1895-96 and as a 17 year old scored the only goal in the deciding match of the West Ham Charity Cup (the match required two replays and Barnes featured in all three games), before joining South Essex League club Leyton in 1897. He transferred to First Division Sheffield United in 1899 making his Football League debut against Everton at the end of December and scored twice in a 5-0 victory.
Despite this excellent start his first team opportunities proved occasional and he wasn’t picked for either the 1901 or 1902 FA Cup Finals, however he was selected for the replay in the 1902 Final at The Crystal Palace against Southampton to replace Walter Bennett, injured in the drawn first match, which had ended a 1-1 draw. With ten minutes to go, Needham took a shot that the Southampton goalkeeper, Jack Robinson, could only block, and Barnes was able to guide the ball into the unguarded net. Sheffield won 2-1 and Barnes won a Cup winners’ medal and a place in FA Cup history.
He left to join Southern League West Ham United in the 1902 close season after 8 goals in 25 appearances for The Blades, scoring on his West Ham debut against Reading in a 1-1 draw at Upton Park and scoring 5 times in 49 appearances for The Irons. He then moved to Luton Town in 1904 where he scored 12 goals in 101 games and to Queen’s Park Rangers in 1907, staying six very successful years at Loftus Road, winning the Southern League Championship with Rangers in both 1907-08 and 1911-12. During his time at QPR he appeared in the teams in both the 1908 and 1912 FA Charity Shield matches, although they lost both matches to Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers respectively. He also represented the Southern League in a 1-0 win over the Scottish Football League at Millwall in October 1919 before joining Southend United in 1913 after scoring 37 goals in 234 appearances for Rangers.
After retiring from playing Barnes was a coach with the Spanish club Bilbao and managed the club from 1914 to 1916 and again from 1920 to 1921. While with Bilbao, they won the Copa del Rey in 1915, 1916 and 1921.
His brother, Alfred Barnes, was a Labour Co-operative politician and Member of Parliament who went on to become Minister of Transport between 1945 and 1951 in Clement Attlee’s government.