Once upon a time they hosted Dinamo Kyiv, Porto and Aberdeen in Europe, now they’re just grateful to be alive and playing Welsh League Division Two.
It’s a long way from seven Welsh Premier League titles, beating Cardiff in a Welsh Cup final and seeing Andrei Shevchenko in your backyard as Dinamo played Barry four times in two season, scoring 16 times and letting in one.
Barry Town United
First watched Barry in 1984 when they lost 2-1 to Reading in the FA Cup – a late Trevor Senior goal knocking them out (if you have a programme for that game you want to sell I am still looking for one).
Well-known local, ahem, character Dave Sylvester ran the club later in the decade – he once roped me in to playing Welsh Cup cricket for Sully where, needless to say, I got a quack but fielded OK. If you’re reading this Dave, my brother still reckons you owe him £20.
Another cricketer Chris Aust followed in some sort of senior role – I played with him for Dinas Powys. A marmite curmudgeon who, perhaps it was genetic, disagreed with everyone as an OCD habit and had the first team skipper, wanting to fight him (that would have been a fabulous spectacle, they were both nearly 50 at the time). Anyway I liked Chris and – pay attention, this is a scoop – it took me all season to extract via a fiendish journalistic tenacity, put the Pulitzer in the post, that he was once the bass player for the legendary Sixties songstress Little Miss Dynamite herself, Brenda Lee. There you go: that’s my contribution to the history of football in Barry. A rock star once ran the club.
Various people, including John Fashanu, came and went – some of them stinking the place out and causing in classic Barry fashion, a commotion baffling to outsiders.
Anyway the upshot is that the club is fan-owned and certainly doesn’t have the funds it once had that enabled it to host European games. But it’s good they made it through the rehab process (‘My name is Barry and I’m a dysfunctional football club’). Back in the day they were called, rather evocatively I thought, the Linnets. Due to that bird being adjudged rather obscure and maybe a bit nancy by marketing idiots, the nickname was switched to the crashingly unimaginative Dragons. It’s like every team in Wales whether you play bridge or rugby has to have this suffix. I’m starting a bring back the Linnets campaign on Facebook soon.
Terry the Trumpet
Fair dos, if it gets boring at Barry ,and boy did it get boring at Barry this evening, Terry the Trumpet will wake you up with a fusillade of Crimean War-era cavalry charges numbers, ear-splitting stuttering stabs of encouragement and even – and most impressively – wry, trailing-off bum notes when he’s just witnessed an inept on-pitch anti-climax.
He’s more parade ground bugler than Miles Davies, more trad jazz than Bitches Brew. It’s long been the case that fans often are more entertaining than the match. The players, after all, are a mere backdrop to more important business of mickey-taking, shouting bollocks and dipping your Twix in the halftime tea (this is not a metaphor). Especially true if you have seen as many Wales games as I have.
Terry’s other party trick, I am told and, indeed I witnessed it, is that if you are subbed as Barry Town player, Terry will sympathetically cross the athletics track from his seat, tiptoe round the back of the dugout and, as you are pulling on your Sports Direct Lam hoodie and inwardly cursing the manager for knowing nothing about football, offer you a tasty sweetie to help you swallow your disappointment.
Terry features heavily on my highlights reel here:
Why? Because, frankly, he was the only highlight.
People from Barry, as anyone who has grown up in the village next door to them will confirm with vigour, are no shrinking violets. Oh no.
So they probably still several days later vociferously blame the ref for sending off their centre half Bobby Briers after 15 minutes for deliberate handball that denied a goalscoring opportunity on the edge of the box for the resulting moribund match.
The dismissal cued the usual ref-bashing but not to the level of Ryman league intensity that I’ve been moaning about lately.
A good feature of Jenner Park is that there is one team dugout either side of the pitch so you are spared the increasingly nauseating spectacle of coaches berating each other like petulant three-year-olds who’ve just wet themselves and blame mum. So manager Gavin Chesterfield had a tantrum but it didn’t seem to fester for too long. That’s a season first. The first half produced a couple of good saves either end from sharp shots. But the second half was a tired procession of poor passing and wrong options. Celtic declined the opportunity to stretch play and pass, pass, pass the ball until Barry ran out of gas and decided to bring Terry the Trumpet on for comedy value.
0-0 says it all – where are Dinamo Kyiv and Sergei Rebrov when you need them eh? It’s not worth the effort describing nothing when nothing but a parping pensioner was of interest. That’s not to demean the Welsh League Division Two level, it was just not one to relish. The outcome left Barry still top of the table, already promoted, and needing a couple of points to win the title. Nice to see the good times returning. Mildly disappointing that there was no Damon Searle, now well into his 40s, to tickle the nostalgia glands of former Cardiff City fans of the 90s. Last time I saw Barry seven years ago at Dinas Powys, Searle was warming up on the sidelines as a sub and I had a nice chat with him. Again, far more interesting than the match.
But Damon was sent off after coming on as a substitute in a recent match so was banned. He has even played a game in goal this season – good to see a local lad giving something back to the game and still apparently enjoying it so much he’s gagging to play.
Another Bluebirds’ favourite, Lee Jarman, was in the programme but not on the pitch and it was interesting to see than many players have several seasons’ worth of appearances behind them and are not part of the non-league carousel that exists in England where some players change clubs more often than their underpants.Finally, respect to the fans who turn up here week in week out at this soap opera of a club. Jenner Park, despite the athletics track – they are often atmosphere killers – isn’t bad spot to watch a match. The regulars stamp and shout and create the sort of noise levels that several hundred at other clubs fail to match.
That deserves a toot of recognition. Take it away Terry!