The first season of the Football League began in September, 1888. Preston North End won the first championship that year without losing a single match and acquired the name the "Invincibles". Blackburn Rovers finished in 4th place, 14 points behind Preston.
At the beginning of the 1889-90 season Tom Mitchell, the club secretary, recruited four top players from Scotland: Tom Brandon, Johnny Forbes, George Dewar and Harry Campbell. Local lads, John Barton, Billy Townley, Nathan Walton, Joseph Lofthouse and Jack Southworth were also drafted into the side.
These decisions definitely improved the attack. Blackburn Rovers beat Notts County (9-1), Stoke (8-0), Aston Villa (7-0), Bolton Wanderers (7-1) and Burnley (7-1). Top scorers were Southworth (22), Campbell (15), Walton (14) and Lofthouse (11).
In the 1889-90 season Blackburn Rovers finished in 3rd place, six points behind Preston North End. They did even better in the FA Cup. On the way to the final they beat Sunderland (4-2), Grimsby Town (3-0), Bootle (7-0) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (1-0).
Blackburn were odds-on favourites to win the cup against Sheffield Wednesday, who played in the Football Alliance league. Barton, who played at right-half, had a great game. Blackburn won 6-1 with Billy Townley scoring a hat-trick. Jack Southworth, Joseph Lofthouse and Nathan Walton got the other goals.
John Barton won his first international cap for England in a game against Ireland on 15th March 1890. Barton scored one of the goals in England's 9-1 victory. Surprisingly, it was the only game he played for his country.
In the first game of the 1891-92 season Barton was injured and did not return until the game against Stoke in November, 1891. He suffered another injury and this time it brought and end to his football career. In a three year period he had played 40 league games for Blackburn Rovers.
John Barton died in 1910.