St. Barlow Baseball Club, normally known as St. Barlow, are a professional baseball club located in Ince, Castlewright, Ianoia. They officially turned professional in 1915 when the Nationwide Baseball Alliance became the second tier of baseball within Ianoia. They are affectionately known as The Forty for the patron saint Ambrose Barlow, who became known as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, although more crudely are also known as The Butchers, due to the “Ince Pig” featuring prominently on the club crest.
On June 15th 1907, the St. Barlow Baseball Club was founded by a group of parishioners. The primary aim behind its establishment was to foster community spirit and unity among the members of the parish. The club provided an avenue for individuals to engage in the sport of baseball and served as a gathering place for both players and spectators. Initially, the club only played other churches in friendly games on Sundays, but soon found great success.
In 1909, St. Barlow joined the Nationwide Baseball Alliance (NBA) after reading about the success of nearby club, Ince Ironworks. They replaced Kirtling Hurlers who folded due to financial issues a few months earlier. In their inaugural season, St. Barlow went 26-13-39, winning their first game at home, 9-5, against NN Kingsdown. After Ince Ironworks emerged as league champions, St. Barlow merged with them due to comments made by James Turner, the owner of Ince Ironworks. Turner stated that the town could not accommodate two teams in the same league, and the company declined further financial support.
Following the merger with Ince Ironworks and the inclusion of several Ironworks players, notably catcher Alfred Cooper who set league records in Home Runs and RBIs, St. Barlow’s fortunes saw little improvement. Many Ironworks players opted not to join St. Barlow and instead chose retirement or pursued professional careers with other teams. In 1910, St. Barlow finished 11th with a record of 30 wins, 10 ties, and 38 losses. The subsequent year witnessed a further decline as they slipped to 12th place, largely attributed to their underwhelming performance in away games.
However, in 1912, St. Barlow achieved their highest-ever finish, securing 9th place and setting a club record of 32 wins in a season. Subsequently, their performance returned to an average level, finishing 10th and then 13th, matching their position when they initially entered the NBA six years earlier. The 13th place finish was accompanied by a record 43 losses during the season. The club also entered the Social Cup for the first time in 1914, reaching the first round proper where they lost away from home to Wattisham Rovers, 5-0, and were eliminated.
In 1927, the St. Barlow church was demolished due to structural deterioration and to make way for redevelopment, prompting suggestions from numerous supporters to rename the team as Ince Ironopolis, paying tribute to both Ince Ironworks and the city’s iron smelting heritage. However, the club chose to retain its original name. In 1978, a new residential suburb named Saint Barlows was established, located 15 minutes north of the former site of St. Barlow church. Street names within the suburb include Ironopolis Drive and Alfred Cooper Way.
The Church of England possessed a sizable, unused paddock located to the west of the city, which underwent transformation into a permanent ballpark in 1909 specifically for St. Barlow’s use. Since then, the club has referred to this stadium as Redfoot Green. The stadium is a contemporary venue with a seating capacity of 29,000 spectators. It features bleacher seating encompassing the entire playing area, including designated areas for safe-standing near both foul poles. Notably, in 2015, Redfoot Green received Ianoia’s Best Takeaway Food Award for the year. Among their celebrated offerings is the pork roll, which includes delectable wrapped-bacon milk bun with barbequed pork in the middle, delighting stadium-goers with its culinary excellence.
Featuring unique architectural elements that contribute to its distinct playing characteristics, the outfield is enclosed by walls that stand at a height of 10 feet but expand to 11 feet from center field, continuing towards the right field foul pole. The deeper placement of the foul poles compared to traditional ballparks reduces the frequency of home runs and diminishes batting averages. However, the increased depth also leads to an upsurge in triples, as outfielders have more ground to cover. As a result, Redfoot Green has earned a reputation as a pitcher-friendly park, often boosting the statistical performance of the team’s pitchers.