Tony Barton won England Schoolboy (1 cap) and Youth (5 caps) honours before beginning his football career with Fulham who he joined as a junior. After a spell on loan to Sutton United, he turned professional with Fulham in May 1954. He went on to score 8 times in 49 games for Fulham.
He moved to Nottingham Forest in December 1959 and after never really establishing himself at Forest, making only 22 appearances (scoring once), moved to Portsmouth in December 1961, where he subsequently became player-coach. After retiring as a player, after 130 games and 34 goals for Portsmouth, he remained on the club's coaching staff.
He subsequently joined the coaching staff at Aston Villa, becoming assistant manager to Ron Saunders in 1980. Villa won the League Championship in 1981 (their first league title in 71 years) and Barton was promoted to the manager's seat in February 1982 after Saunders resigned.
In July 1984, he took over as manager of Northampton Town but left in April 1985 after suffering a heart attack. In September that year he became assistant manager of Southampton under Chris Nicholl, remaining at The Dell until May 1988. He later became assistant manager of Portsmouth and in February 1991 took over as caretaker manager after the sacking of Frank Burrows.
After leaving Portsmouth he was a talent scout for several clubs. Shortly before Tony's death he was offered the first Managers job at Wessex league new boys Petersfield Town.
On 20 August 1993, Tony Barton died of a heart attack at the age of 56.