Saturday, 7 January 2012

Saving privates, Ryan

In a new section, which will begin and end today, we will take a look at some of the infamous on-field moments in Barry Town's long existence.  This list of one simply has to include the sending off of Barry Town's Darren Ryan in the home match against Dinamo Kiev in 1997.

It was an interesting time.  We'd had an incredible UEFA Cup campaign the season before, whereby we'd played 6 matches that culminated in a famous 6-4 aggregate defeat to Aberdeen in the 1st Round Proper.  The first Welsh club to ever progress to the 1st Round of the UEFA Cup, thank you very much.

This was followed by, arguably, a bigger draw in 1997-98 when we were up against the mighty Ukranian Champions Dinamo Kiev in the Champions League.  Although their recent European performances weren't exactly glittering - indeed, the club had been booted out of the Champions League in 1995 following the bribery scandal (a 2 year ban was later rescinded) - Kiev's meeting with Barry Town coincided with their best European showings to date (without a fur-coat bribe in sight, presumably) as they finished in the last 8 in 1997-98 and in 1998-99 finished as defeated semi-finalists.

Darren Ryan made it a bit easier for them, to be honest.

Achieving a remarkable result in the Ukraine, where Barry Town were peppered with shots on goal and chances galore, Town finally went down 'only' 2-0 after Rebrov had taken the Ukranians into a 20-minute 1-0 lead.  The 2nd goal, by Maksymov came in the 83rd minute - but the result still left Dinamo intensely irritated and frustated - which was part of the Barry plan etched out by management duo Gary Barnett and Richard Jones. 

Playing at Jenner Park in the 2nd Round, fans were - quietly - very confident of another upset.  After all, as much as Kiev were a household name, we'd defended brilliantly in the Ukraine, and we'd had unexpected results the season before.  However, during the match, following some on and off the ball shenanigans between a few of the players, ace Barry winger Darren Ryan retrieved the ball which had gone out of play, and - in no uncertain terms - threw the ball forceably into the goolies of the Ukranian international, Dmytrulin. 

Seasoned-pro Dmytrulin made the most of the situation, allowed the ball to hit him, and milked it for all his worth. Later on, Barry players would moan bitterly about the things that went on during the match, and generally whined that they were hard done by.  Ryan himself complained that he shouldn't have been sent off as moments before he'd been spat at.  The difference was, I guess, they did it better than us.  Ryan decided to do his bit of retribution just feet away from the referee and linesman.  To this day, I can still see him doing it.  I don't like the view of the pitch from those seats even today.  Chills up the spine and all that.

Referee Gylfi Thor Orrason consulted with his linesman, but needn't have bothered - the 2,200 fans at Jenner Park that evening saw what happened and knew that Ryan would have to walk.  With Richard Jones pleading Ryan's cause, the referee aimed his red card in the winger's direction, and no doubt with a heavy-heart stated glumly in Norwegian; "I'm saving privates, Ryan", and with that he was off the pitch in a crunch European tie against eventual Quarter Finalists to howls of derision from the Barry Town faithful.  We went on to lose 4-0 in a game that we had been extremely competitive in up until that point.  Honestly, we'd thrown it away.  Shot ourselves in both feet.

After the match, most of the players defended Ryan by stating that it was an over-reaction by Dmytrulin, but acknowledged that it was an impossible ask with only 10 men on the pitch.  Andrew York, though, could not hide his frustration by telling the South Wales Echo "It was a stupid sending off and it changed the game totally.  It is hard enough to play Kiev with 11 men.  It is all about discipline.  One of ours lost it and we're out of the Cup."

Kiev went on to get past Brondby in the 2nd Qualifying Round, and ultimately finished top of their Group C, despite the efforts of Newcastle United, Eindhoven, and Barcelona.  In fact, let's have a look at this.  Dinamo Kiev beat Barry Town 6-0 on aggregate.  Dinamo Kiev beat Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate.  Therefore, Barry Town were better than Barcelona in 1997-98.  This isn't a well-known fact.  Certainly, the Western Mail didn't report it.  What do they know?

Their Group stage triumph led to a two-legged struggle against the mighty Juventus in the Quarter Finals, and despite a 1-1 draw in the Ukraine, and getting an away goal in Turin, the Italians won 4-1 at home and Kiev were out.

Cruelly perhaps, despite Barry Town dusting itself off from an all-too brief European 'campaign' (actually, swap 'campaign' for 'appearance'), and again winning the Welsh Premier title to give ourselves another chance in the Champions League and putting the 1997-98 debacle behind us, we were drawn away to...  Dinamo Kiev, again.  Such fun.

This time Kiev knew what to expect of Barry Town and we were mauled 8-0 in Kiev the second time around.  With disappointing defeats to Valetta and Boavista to follow in 1999 and 2000, we'd have to wait until 2001 for another true European 'run'.  Darren Ryan went on to play for TNS, so there is some justice.  Thanks for the 28 goals, Darren, it was fun when it was good and sucked when it wasn't.  A fabulous talent, and we probably haven't seen a better winger at the club since his day - but that night against Kiev is my biggest memory of him.   Unfortunately.