Larry Barilli started managing football teams in 1953, 7 years before Nigeria gained her independence, His career as a manager exceeds his hero Sir Alex Ferguson’s for longevity. Larry is not ready to retire or sit out any game, Following the death of his wife, as the players have become like a second family.
He started managing a football team since he was 18 when he set up his first team, Barnhill Rovers and kept playing until his 40s, winning 23 cup finals and 11 league titles.
Larry has managed seven teams in the Greenock area over the years and estimates to have missed only seven games since 1953 through illness.
His longevity in football is hard to match. Larry is believed to have managed about 2,000 games, and the Scottish Amateur Football Association is not aware of a football manager in Scotland who is older than him.
The great-grandfather at 83 doesn’t hold back while coaching a Sunday league amateur game, he shouts encouragement and occasional abuse at his players, he gives the referee a piece of his mind on foul throws and he constantly demands that his players play the ball forward.
His first team, Barnhill Rovers, was named after the street where he grew up. His latest football team, formerly named Bayhome Builders FC, was renamed Chaplins FC two years ago.
As well as manager, Larry is also his side’s- Chaplins’ kit man and washes all the strips after every game. When he is not loading his washing machine with muddy tops, or planning his team for the next match, Larry works as a taxi driver two days a week.
Not a fan of the modern game, he says “I think the football years ago was better,” he says. “In my time, you attacked to win games. Now they are passing the ball back an awful lot. It is kind of boring.”
For Larry his love and passion for football is beyond the awards and prizes, “I’m doing this for the true love of football, I hope to have many more games to come.”