Friday 14 July 2023

Barry Town United - Jenner Park

Barry Town United FC
Jenner Park
Barry Road
CF62 9BG

Ground Number: 1201
Friday 14th July 2023
Barry Town United 1-3 Cardiff City


Barry Town United's history dates back to 1892 when an association football team named Barry and Cadoxton District was formed in the area. During the early years, this side endured many upheavals, playing on five different grounds under various identities, including Barry Unionist Athletic, Barry United Athletic and Barry District. Players featured during these years included Ted Vizard and Billy Jennings; who would each play in the famous 'White Horse' FA Cup Final between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United in 1923. Under the guise of Barry, they joined the Southern League and moved to their current home Jenner Park in 1913. They started out in Division 2 but the war soon interrupted proceedings. Following the end of hostilities, the league was regionalised and Barry won the Welsh division in 1920. They changed their name to Barry Town in 1936. The league operated mainly as a national division after that but in 1960, a new step was added and Barry were relegated from the Premier Division to Division 1. They remained in the league's second tier until 1982 when they moved to the Welsh system. This was due to insufficient floodlighting, something that would only be resolved sometime later. They were a huge success here and won the Welsh League title in six of the next seven seasons. The only time they didn't was in 1988 when Ebbw Vale beat them to the title.

From 1989 until 1992, they reverted back to the Southern League Midland Division, never finishing outside the top six. Due to their refusal to join the new League Of Wales, they were forced into playing in exile at Worcester for the 1992/93 season with the Welsh FA refusing to let them play in Wales. They eventually relented and joined the Welsh system, although they were forced to start a step below in the Welsh League Division 1. They won this and gained promotion to the League of Wales, finishing 7th in their first season. There then followed an unprecedented run of glory with Barry Town winning seven of the next eight titles. The only time that they didn't, a certain TNS won their first title in 2000. It appeared as if there was no stopping them, but the house of cards came tumbling down in the summer of 2003. With former Wimbledon player and chairman John Fashanu walking out on a club in an already perilous state, the club entered administration and finished bottom of the league. Relegation followed and then they were relegated again in 2007 to the Welsh League D2. Though they won promotion back, finishing as runners-up to Bettws, the finances were never fully right.

In the December of 2003, businessman Stuart Lovering appeared to be the saviour of the club but he would eventually lead to the original club's demise. Several threats had been made over the years to withdraw the club from the Welsh League but in May 2013, the trigger was finally pulled, two games short of completing the season, despite the supporters club being willing to fulfil these games. A breakaway club, Barry Town United was created but the Welsh FA took the side of Lovering, They decreed that the new club should only be allowed to play recreational football. This despite them having the security of a lease at their stadium and only narrowly losing 3-2 to Cardiff City before a sizeable crowd. The real hero though was team manager Gavin Chesterfield who had joined the club in 2007, he had masterminded the return to Division 1 in his first season. He joined the 'new' club and continued to be a success. They were forced to start in Division 3 after a court decision allowed them to start out at the bottom of the Welsh League. Two consecutive titles were won before Cardiff Met Uni condemned them to a Division 1 runners-up spot in 2016. They would put things right, the following year, winning the league and promotion to the Cymru Premier. The club appeared to be coping well back in the top tier but following 3rd, 4th and 5th place finishes, the 2021/22 season would see them finish 11th and suffer relegation to the Cymru South. Last season they won the title for an immediate promotion back to the Premier Division.

In terms of cups, Barry have won six Welsh Cups, ten Welsh League Cups (over two versions of the league), the FAW Premier Cup in 1999, the FAW Trophy in 1994, 15 South Wales Senior Cups, the West Wales Senior Cup in 1928 and two Welsh Blood Service Cups. Barry Town have reached the FA Cup 'proper' rounds on five occasions. Notably in 1961, they held Queens Park Rangers 1-1 at home before losing the replay 7-0. Their best progress was in 1929 when they reached the 2nd Round before losing to Brighton & Hove Albion. Famous players to turn out for the club include goalkeeper Andy Dibble, defender Kenny Brown and forwards Jamie Moralee & Adebayo Akinfenwa amongst many others which include current League 2 manager Michael Flynn.

The club has played 27 games in Europe, all occurring between 1994 & 2021. Their
 best run came in 1996 as they beat Latvian side Dinaburg over two legs before doing the same to Hungarians Budapest Vasuta. Though they gained a famous 3-3 draw at home to Aberdeen in the UEFA Cup 1st Round, they had already lost the first leg 3-1 in Scotland. An even more incredible result occurred in the Champions League 2nd Qualifying Round as they beat Porto 3-1. Again it was all in vain though as they had been defeated 8-0 in the first leg in Portugal. Other remarkable results include 6-6 draws against Gillingham & Bristol Rovers in their Southern League days.

Barry is a town in the Vale of Glamorganapproximately 9 miles south-southwest of Cardiff. Barry is a seaside resort, with attractions including several beaches and the resurrected Barry Island Pleasure Park. The population is just under 55,000. 
Once a small village, Barry has absorbed its larger neighbouring villages of Cadoxton and Barry Island, and now, Sully. It grew significantly from the 1880s with the development of Barry Docks, which, in 1913, was the largest coal port in the world.

The BBC sitcom Gavin & Stacey was filmed in many areas of Barry and Barry Island, including establishments such as Marco's Café which feature in the show. Long-running medical drama Casualty which is filmed in Cardiff, regularly films scenes in and around Barry Island. The comedy's families took their surnames from two famous serial killers - Shipman & West. Fred West and his family used to go on holiday to Barry Island and controversially has his ashes scattered there.


It was time for my annual weekend off work around my birthday and as usual, it would be a trip away. Originally it was planned to visit Cornwall with fellow hopper Colin keen to join me. However, when I looked at camping and accommodation options, as well as the quality of the grounds and pubs, I decided it wasn't worth it. Fellow hopper Martin was also due to enjoy us on the trip but with him not expressing much interest and being unreliable lately, it would be expensive petrol and camping-wise if he dropped out. The main thing was the exorbitant prices of campsites nowadays. Most were asking for £30 at night for a pitch, some even at £80 for a simple patch of grass. A case in point was Barry, where I eventually decided to spend Friday night. A pitch on a local campsite was £45 but I managed to secure a room for £44. This of course meant that I could leave the car back in Bucks as a great value £22.80 return on the National Express to Cardiff was secured. I'd enjoyed my brief visit to Cardiff earlier this year and Barry looked decent too.

Barry Town United were a club that I'd wanted to visit for ages. They had an eventful and interesting history which was good to write about. This was a big undertaking, done over the course of a few days, what with the distractions that research brings. Thursday should have been a day of immense joy, at least after I'd finished my nine-hour shift. But the news that the weather was going to be vile for a rare bit of time off work was getting my mood down. I was confident that Barry would go ahead, but was not so confident about Garw on Saturday. I had a couple of cans to take the edge off and got a fairly early night. As a result, I awoke early on the day of the game, watching TV before a bath and breakfast. I drove to Rickmansworth, parking up in a road 15 minutes from the station.

True to form, after being dry for my whole drive, it rained as soon as I started walking. It was not too heavy and I was at the station six minutes before my scheduled train. The Pennsylvanian remains my nearest unticked Wetherspoons but I didn't have time for an airport-style early pint. The train got a bit crowded and I had someone sit in the seat next to me, much to my chagrin. It was packed elsewhere too but after changes at Baker Street and Oxford Circus, I got to Victoria. It was then a walk through more rain to the coach station. I had over half an hour to kill and had my usual Lamb Samosa from the 'Treats' shop. It was as good as ever and a feature of any coach trip I like. I was also happy to get a double seat to myself although after leaving seven minutes late, the coach got stuck in traffic getting out of London. Then there was roadworks on the M4 which delayed us further. It was around this time that I got the news that an early decision had been made to do the inevitable at Garw and call the game off.


We eventually arrived at 4.15, some 50 minutes late. No fault of the company though, but I fancied a couple of pints. The fact that the coach has not stopped in the centre of Cardiff changed my plans and I headed to my 258th Wetherspoons, the Gatekeeper. Nicely kept and having Black Dragon was a good start and the chicken wings were excellent. Ten minutes later I was at the Central Bar, a fairly unattractive Spoons with a decent selection of cider. I had a pint of Flatler which was nice. From there, it was 20 minutes to Poutine Box where I had the Texan version of the Canadian delicacy. It was very nice but the station was miles away from the centre and with a train delay, I didn't get going until 6.35. It was also an extremely slow train. Eventually, I got there, legged it to the hotel and dumped my bag. It was then just over 10 minutes to the ground, with me getting there five minutes after kickoff.

The game was fairly dull but the Cardiff City youngsters took the lead on 20 minutes, a good cross and a James Carole header. On 27 minutes, it was 2-0, a great shot from the edge of the area by a trialist, deflecting in off the left hand upright. A couple of minutes from halftime, a cross-shot from the right confused the Cardiff keeper and the arrears were halved. The goal was credited to Jamie Vale. A couple of minutes into the second half, the two-goal lead was restored with a low shot from Kieron Evans. There were no further goals, but Cardiff looked more likely. 

During half time, a change of plan was decided for tomorrow and a potential double. With the Newport City and Ynysgerwn accounts quiet, we decided to instead head to Club Cwmric v CPD Felinheli. Not the most exciting venue, but acceptable, especially on a rainy day. It was more about the clubs and it's people anyway. Richard kindly dropped me at an excellent bar called Craft Republic, saving me 20 minutes at least. There were 27 ciders on offer. I had pints of Labyrinth and Iford Sahara Dry, plus a bottle to take away. I learned that a team of Wycombe trialists were thumped 7-0 at Hanwell Town, a club I've enjoyed visiting. Even as a potential Development squad, that's pretty embarrassing and I shouldn't imagine many will be asked back. It was a walk back to the room through a peaceful and pleasant town. Back at the hotel, I had a couple of pints of Strongbow and also a bottle I'd bought back from the craft bar.


JENNER PARK is a decent venue. The view from both of the side stands is good. There is a bar and a food van which do the job without much fanfare. Further afield are more pubs and takeaways. There's a small car park at the ground or there is street parking. The public transport is not bad, Cadoxton is the local train station.

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