In November 1978 John Barton was part of the Worcester City team that knocked Malcolm Allison’s Plymouth Argyle out of the FA Cup, causing the shock of the first round. A week later Gordon Lee paid £25,000 – a record for a non-league player – to bring the 25-year-old right back to Goodison. If the move caused ripples of surprise among Evertonians, when the rookie was introduced the following spring he provided competent cover for Colin Todd – who quickly tipped him for an international future.
Lean, athletic and a willing overlapper, Barton started the 1979/80 season as Everton’s first-choice right back. However, his progress was abruptly halted that autumn when he suffered a broken leg. The road to recovery was long, and when he regained his fitness John Gidman had taken his place. In March 1982, having failed to make an appearance under Howard Kendall, Barton was released and joined Derby County. He later made a return to non-league, and turned his hand to management with Burton Albion and Worcester City.