The King of PVR
When Gary Abbott left the club to join Grays back in August, I was perplexed to read in some quarters that the Wings had just lost their "leading
goalscorer of all time." For the younger element of the Wings faithful that may have appeared true but long standing supporters will remember another
centre forward who scored considerably more than Abbo during his time at PVR. Step forward (Sir) John Bartley.
John began his career at Park View Road in the youth team during the 1974-75 season. Now Welling have always had a great reputation for discovering
young players and here was no exception. He made one substitute appearance for the first team that season after scoring 64 goals in 40 appearances for
the youths. The following season, 1975-76, saw John make his mark in the first XI whilst continuing to score prolifically for the youth side. In fact he
scored an incredible 113 goals in that season at a ratio of almost two per game although most of them were still for the youth side.
He was now established in the first team in the then Athenian League and for the next five seasons scored at an average of over one goal per game.
Clearly there were plenty of other clubs monitoring Johnís progress and it was inevitable he may eventually leave PVR. He had a successful spell with
the then high flying Maidstone United and briefly flirted with league football during an unsuccessful spell with Millwall. I remember watching him at
The Valley when he looked a forlorn figure stuck on the right wing and I shouted at him that he should come back to us at Welling!!
Welling continued their steady progress through the non-league pyramid and were an established Southern League Premier side when John returned "home"
in the 1984-85 season. It was the following year when Welling stormed to the Championship that John again made his mark. He personally scored 60 goals
in 58 appearances and the forward line of Smith, Bartley and Abbott was far too strong for Southern League defences and was arguably the best in
non-league football at that time. John started the next season in prime form but all was not well behind the scenes and he sadly left PVR under a bit of
So if my stats man has got it right John Bartley made a total of 401 full appearances (plus 11 as a sub) for the Welling youth and first teams and
scored an amazing 526 goals which must rank him as one of the best non-league marksmen of all time. He could score the simple goals, headers, left or
right foot, and also plenty of spectacular strikes as well. You can forget the likes of Ian Rush or Gary Lineker, John Bartley was (and always will be)
a footballing hero of mine.
If anyone knows his whereabouts now then get him along to Park View Road. I, and I suspect many others, would buy him a pint and thank him for his
contribution to the rise of Welling United and perhaps we can persuade him to bring his boots along as well!
John Bartley (hidden) scores for Welling at Stonebridge Road
Photo: Keith Gillard