Dundee born goalkeeper Francis Barrett began his football career in 1888 with Dundee junior side, Johnstone Wanderers, spending around a year with them before making his move to Dundee Harp in 1889, where he spent four years before joining Dundee in December 1893 not long after their foundation, making his debut in a 3-0 defeat at Heart of Midlothian a week later. During his time with Dundee, his performances soon earned him two caps with Scotland, his international debut coming in a 2-1 win over Ireland at The Solitude, Belfast in March 1894, his second and final cap coming a year later when he played in a 2-2 draw with Wales at The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham.
After 49 League and Cup appearances, he was signed by Second Division club Newton Heath (now Manchester United) making his Football League debut against Newcastle United that September. He was The Heathens’ regular goalkeeper for four seasons, in the latter two of which he was an ever present, making 136 appearances for them but not gaining promotion despite Test match qualification in 1897. He transferred to Second Division club New Brighton Tower in the 1900 close season, where he was again an ever present in their final season in the League, where despite finishing fourth in the division, their financial position caused the club to fold in 1901.
Barrett returned to Scotland for a spell with Arbroath, but returned before the year end to Manchester having played just 4 matches for The Red Lichties, signing for First Division club Manchester City, where he played in 9 matches for The Citizens between December and February before losing his place when they signed Jack Hillman from Burnley. He returned to Dundee joining Dundee Wanderers in 1902 and with the founding of Aberdeen in 1903, Barrett became The Dons’ first choice goalkeeper throughout the club’s first season, making his debut in a 1-1 Northern League draw with Stenhousemuir in August 1903. Suffering failing health, Barrett played only once for Aberdeen in 1904-05, adding to his 19 matches in their inaugural campaign, and retired in 1906. His health “never of a robust nature” being such that he was unable to work, a fund was set up to which Newton Heath contributed £35, with two benefit matches raising £20. He died in March 1907 of unknown causes leaving a widow and young family.