Sunday, 4 March 2012

Barry Town Community Day

It was actually better than I expected.  We've endured pitifully small crowds for a number of years now, at least since our infamous relegation from the Welsh Premier League at the end of the 2003-04 season, but we managed to double our average attendance on Saturday by offering the football for free.  The weather was kind to us, the programme was great, Jenner Park looked great, and it was odd hearing shouts, cheers and cat-calls from sections of the ground so often left vacant over the years.  It was like Jenner Park, only in stereo.

And then there was the football.  Most folks around the Welsh League will know that we have one of the better football playing sides in the pyramid.  Manager Gavin Chesterfield believes in the beautiful game and the Heavenly ethos of pass and move.  Heck, the fans love watching that stuff, too.  Unfortunately, we have this tendency to play all the football in all of the wrong areas.  A bit like that Morecombe & Wise crack; we can play all the right notes... but not necessarily in the right order.

This is what happened on Saturday.  We looked lush on the ball.  Reigning Welsh League Champions, Bryntirion - our opposition on the day - are a physical bunch, led by ex-Townie Francis Ford, and although their football verged on the kick and rush at times - maybe even lump it forward football, they are a decent side and thoroughly deserved the three points that were coming their way.  They're breakaway opening goal in the closing minutes of the first half had an element of fortune about it.  The shot whizzed passed Barry 'keeper's, Dan Bradley's out-stretched palms, only to crash off the upright but back onto the toes of the original shooter for the opening goal.  Rarely have I heard such silence greet a goal.  Even by barren Jenner Park standards.

The 2nd half will be remembered, sadly, for the suicidal defending that shows that fancy football is best played  outside the 12 yard box - at least, your own 12 yard box.  The ball would have been easily retrieved, there were loads of people dotted around the ground had the ball been skied into the stands.  Alas, the ball was given away to the feet of a very quick team with their scoring boots on and we were suddenly 3-0 down with a miracle needed.  On top of this we had lost one of our star attackers through a head injury at half time, and had two defenders hobble off during the second half.

It really wasn't our day.  Unfortunately, this all played out in front of the biggest crowd of the season.  Such is Barry Town's luck I suppose.  However, all was not lost.  There was plenty of generosity on the day (£20 for one badge, really?), and I've since received Tweets and emails (okay, one email) about how much folks enjoyed the day.  That's not to sat that there are plenty of lessons to be learned.  The biggest one being better organised.  This was all rather last minute unfortunately, and it showed.  Hopefully, should we be in the fortunate position in the future to hold another open day at Jenner Park, we'll have our pop and crisps to sell.  As a minimum.  The poor guy in the corner store never knew what hit yesterday at half-time.  All those coffers, with all due respect to the Barry businessman in the cornerstore, should have been coming our way.

There were lots of ideas being bandied about to enhance the day;choirs, new song writing sessions, hot-dog stands, flashy programme covers, people jumping through hoops of fire and even juggling monkeys.  There was a barrage of noise coming in, which is great for creativity and whatnot, but when there are only a handful of people doing their best to even turn up to the ground it really begins to grate when you also receive criticism.  I, for one, really didn't need the guy moaning that the gates were not yet open at 1.45pm for a 2.30pm kick-off.  I gave him a free, limited edition misprint programme for his troubles.

I'm all for entertaining the crowd at half time with people jumping hoops of fire and having juggling monkeys wearing unsold Barry Town FC 2004 child-size hoodies, but let's do the planning a bit earlier next time.  I'd rather everybody pull in the same direction instead of the fucking petty point-scoring and piss-awful snobbiness of 'I told you so'.

The only thing that went wrong yesterday were the injuries to the players, and the result of course.  In the cold light of day, this Community Day we held at Jenner Park will most probably not change the history of Barry Town Football Club, but I'm really very proud that for once the town's premier football club gave something back to the community of Barry - free football.  It's about time we gave back, because for years we were all about the take and not the give.

So, with us doubling our crowd on Saturday, this has filled me hope.  Despite the fact that folks turned up because it was free, it at least showed that there is still enthusiasm for Barry Town Football Club in Barry.  I'd like to thank all those new and old fans who turned out on Saturday for giving us the boost that what we're doing is the right thing - keeping Barry Town AFC alive.

Meanwhile, we have a relegation battle to fight.