Don Barker (Jon Morrison) 2004-2005
First Regular Appearance: 8.1 (#325) Down Sunday 17th October 2004
Last Regular Appearance: 8.32 (#356) Play Off Sunday 29th May 2005
Duration: EP: 325 - 356 ½ SE: 8.1 – 8.32
Position: Manager (2004-2005) / West Ham Director of Football (2005)
Last Seen: Driving his petrol-laden car head on into the Harchester team coach, after being found out for Fletch’s death.
Don was born in Scotland in 1949. As a player, he was the dominant figure of the squad, the man whose hard nature went unchallenged because his team mates were in awe of or too intimidated to go against. It almost seemed as Don would have fitted the army better than a football club, and showing weakness or indecision was about the worst thing you could do in his presence. Don’s managerial career began in 1982, with his daughter Jodie born the same year, and he raised her as he would any son, Mrs Barker dying in uncertain circumstances while Jodie was growing up.
Over twenty years, Don managed across the three Divisions, accompanied by the Ryman’s League and Vauxhall Conference. By 2004, Barker was boss at Wigan when approached by millionaire entrepreneur Eli Knox about taking over if he bought the newly relegated Harchester United. Don revels in the mission, believing he alone can take the Dragons back to the top flight. Don’s willingness to punish his players is shown early on, when he abandons Tommy Valentine ten miles from the team hotel in Portugal for what he saw as not being a team player.
Barker's main target however, was Clyde Connelly. It wasn’t that Clyde had a weakness Barker hated to see, it was that he was more than capable of challenging Don's formation which he wouldn't stand for. Don set about destroying Clyde’s self-esteem by forcing him to play outside of his position thus making him look less of a Premiership player. Don plants the seed that he is turning the team against Clyde, threatening to take the captaincy away from Curtis unless he follows his lead at the Boot Camp and is too tough with Clyde.
When Frank beats Clyde up, Clyde uses it to go public on his unhappiness at Barker’s regime. But Don, being a regular visitor to strip clubs, uses an innocent encounter between Clyde and a lap dancer to take his revenge, and reminds Clyde he will always be a step ahead of him. Barker’s actions have led Clyde into a serious depression, and feeling he is trapped in a world of fear, Clyde kills himself by jumping from the roof of the Dragons Lair. Although Clyde’s mother holds Don responsible for her son’s death, Barker manages to avoid blame thanks to a dastardly lie from Ryan that Clyde was having an affair with Chelsea Wright, and her leaving him caused his suicide.
When Curtis informs Don he has seen Frank in a compromising position with another man, Barker assaults the son-in-law he has known for nine years, and forces Curtis to tell Jodie what he saw Frank doing. After Eli loses Tommy to Spartak Moscow in a bet, Don tries to force his hand in signing a new player by staging a protest with the HCRC. When this results in a riot at the Southampton game, Eli threatens to fire both Don and Dean unless they win the upcoming Lazio game. Don has a plan to ensure they do - first manipulating Dean into paying rebel fans to make racist chants and then use inexperienced keeper Nathan Woods to fake a coin throwing injury, in order to get the match abandoned and the points awarded to Harchester.
Barker’s eye for the younger woman is ignited when he meets Nicole Caskey, wife of hard-up midfielder Carl. Discovering how Carl’s arrival is down to a plot between Fletch and Dean to catch Barker in a bribe and force his resignation, Don tells Nicole Carl will only play if she sleeps with him. Desperate for the money, Nicole is forced to go through with it once, but with the help of Gina, she records Barker on camera making his continued demands for her to sleep with him. When Dean shows the tape to the team in the dressing room, they realise just what kind of a man Don really is, and force him to leave the club.
Don is next heard to be working for West Ham, as their Director of Football. He isn’t finished with Harchester though, and drags Fletch into a plot to keep Ryan from playing against West Ham. Fletch is desperate for the money after learning he will be let go at the end of the season, and believes he will be spiking Ryan’s water bottle with eye drops. When the water bottles get mixed up, Gina ends up drinking from the spiked bottle and collapses, the effect being from cyanide poisoning. Don leaves Fletch to be charged, but on the day before the Play Off final between the two teams he is released.
Barker is having one last look around the Dragons Lair when he and Fletch come face to face and are involved in a full-on fight in the dressing room. Barker is clinging onto the physio bench with Fletch on his back, and when he lets go the two men are thrown backwards with the weight of Don putting Fletch’s head through a coat peg. After failing to revive Fletch, Don hides his body in the boot of his pool car, planning to take it to an unknown location and use petrol canisters to burn it. He is then usurped by Jodie, who changes her dad’s plans and makes him go to the Play Off’s in Cardiff. When Ryan steals Don’s car, he is stopped by the police who open the boot and find Fletch’s body.
The stress has flared up Don’s angina problems again, and upon learning the police are looking for him in connection with Fletch’s death, gains entry to the sealed-off car and faces the Harchester coach with the team celebrating their promotion back to the Premiership. Knowing he is facing prison for Fletch’s death, Barker decides to end it all and drives directly into the Harchester coach. The petrol canisters cause a massive explosion on impact, with Don taking the team with him in death.