Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham born right half Fred Barron began his career with Northern League side Stockton St. Mary’s in 1897. Described as ‘the best back in the Northern League’, he was signed by newly promoted Football League First Division club Burnley in June 1898, where he would become a one club stalwart. At the start of the 1898-99 season, Barron was unable to displace David Beveridge from the right half position. He made his Football League debut in the sixth match of the campaign, a 1-1 draw away at Sheffield United on 1st October 1898. Barron kept his place in the Burnley team for the remainder of the season, making 31 appearances. He retained his starting berth for the majority of the 1899-1900 season, making 30 League appearances, but was dropped for the final two matches of the campaign in favour of Bill Jenkinson. The season ended in disappointment for Burnley as they were relegated to the Second Division after winning only 11 of their 34 fixtures.
Barron was an ever-present for Burnley during the 1900-01 season as the side finished third in the Second Division. On 26th January 1901 he scored his first Football League goal, netting the first in the 5-1 win against Chesterfield at Turf Moor. Barron scored again six matches later as Burnley were beaten 2-1 away at Barnsley. He made his 100th league appearance for Burnley on 12th October 1901 in the 3-0 home defeat to local rivals Preston North End, and was again almost ever present in the 1901-02 season. He scored a penalty kick in the 1-0 win against Newton Heath (who would later become Manchester United) on 28th March 1902, Burnley’s last win of the campaign. Barron played in all 99 of the side’s competitive fixtures between March 1902 and January 1905, scoring seven goals (five of them penalties) during this period. During the 1902-03 campaign, he had a brief spell at outside forward following the departure of Tommy Morrison to Manchester United.
On 8th October 1904, Barron played his 200th league match for Burnley in a 3-1 defeat to Gainsborough Trinity, the first in a run of seven consecutive defeats. He missed only one game during the 1904-05 season; his place at right-half was taken by David Walders for the 2-0 defeat away at Blackpool on 21st January 1905. Barron then played 37 competitive matches for Burnley in the 1905-06 season, scoring once. Following the arrival of half back Rupert Cawthorne from Clitheroe before the 1906-07 campaign, Barron began to play at right back, by now club captain. For the fourth time in his Burnley career, he played in every Second Division game during the campaign. His 300th Football League appearance came in the final match of the season, a 1-1 draw with Glossop at Turf Moor. In 1907 he was described as “an untiring worker with rare turn of speed. Has a thorough and practical knowledge of the game”.
Barron remained a regular member of the Burnley team well into the 1909-10 season, but found himself out of the side following the death of manager Spen Whittaker in April 1910. Caretaker manager Richard Wadge selected youngster Tom Bamford for the last eight matches of the campaign. The Horwich born defender would go on to play 137 league games for the Clarets. In the summer of 1910, new manager John Haworth signed Scottish full back Bob Reid from Cowdenbeath, and Barron subsequently found his first-team opportunities limited, playing only four matches in the 1910-11 campaign. He made his 400th and final League appearance for Burnley in a 0-0 draw with Barnsley on 1st April 1911. Barron retired from professional football at the end of the season, having scored 14 goals in 423 appearances for The Clarets.