Only a few weeks after the young Queen began her reign, on 11th April to be precise, a spindly youth by the name of Barry Ray played in our tournament at The Greyhound for the first time. As a member of the Slaugham Scouts team, trained by former marbles champion Arthur Chamberlain. The tournament was played on a lovely spring day, the weather the best that it had been on Good Friday for years. This was the beginning of a long and successful association with the tournament. By 1977 Barry was a member of the Handcross Rebels, for whom he playing until 2016, and that year they won the tournament for the first time, regaining the title in 1979, when Barry also won the Individual Title for the first time, retaining it in 1980, winning it again in 1982 and again successfully defending it in 1983. This was the year of Barry’s greatest triumph – not only was he the Individual Champion but the Handcross Rebels were runners up in the main tournament, winning them not a trophy but the beer! It has long been claimed that the most skilled team plays to come second to claim the beer and avoid having to polish the trophy, until this point something Barry’s team had failed to do! Having proved they could be worthy runners up the Rebels repeated this in 1993,1994 and most recently in 1999. More recently Barry won the inaugural Golden Oldies competition in 2002, winning it again in both 2004 and 2005. Having won a title in the Queen’s Silver and Golden Jubilee years so far, there is a hat trick still to try for today!
Barry Ray has been a great ambassador for British marbles over the years, making a number of radio and television appearances and in 1990 he was one of the British players who visited Tennessee for the first time to play in the annual Rolley Hole competition.
Barry’s enthusiasm for the game of marbles, and this tournament in particular, has been enormous and he has passed this on to the next generation. Between Barry and his son and daughter, Darren and Alison they have won every title available. Barry’s wife Josie is always supporting from the ringside and in more recent years she is frequently on Grandmother duties, enabling everyone else to compete!
Barry Ray played at Tinsley Green from 1953 until 2016
Competitor at the World Marbles Championship
By George Nelson
Vice April 8, 2015
Barry Ray in his own words
"I won the championship four times in the late-1970s and early-80s—that was with the Handcross Rebels. But we disbanded; we got too old, some passed away, some have moved on. I started practicing in the winter of 1951. I've been playing ever since. This is the 63rd time I've been here.
"My grandfather was a big player down here. He was a real character—he was known as Jim 'Atomic Thumb' Longhurst. His forte was to shoot marbles from three feet away—in, say, a pub—against a beer glass, either a pint jug or a dimpled one, and he would smash it."