Sunday, 24 June 2012

The first inklings of 'Barry Town'? June 100 years ago

Barry Herald 
Friday 21st June, 1912. 

Rapid strides are being made in football circles in the Barry district. For the first time in the history of the town there will be two powerful clubs participating in the leading competitions.

A professional club has been launched in connection with the Barry Dockers' Brass Band and Athletic Institute, a club that was founded several months ago with the express purpose of providing the town with a professional team capable of holding its own with the best teams now figuring in Welsh football.

Amongst the promoters are such well known exponents of the game as Joe Sheldon, Ike Sheldon, Manny Prince, and many others who have past years done yeoman service towards placing Barry in a prominent position.

The new club is in a sound financial position, and will be more than equal to the demands made upon its resources. Two suitable grounds are at the disposal of the club.

Negotiations are in progress with several well known players from West Bromwich, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, and Nottingham districts, and with the fine talent at their disposal the new club will provide powerful opposition to all comers.

Application has been made for the admission to the 2nd Division of the Southern League,and the 1st Division of the Welsh League.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Irate Eight - Revisited

From : The Football Association of Wales
Date : 23 September, 1991

To :  
Bangor City FC;  
Barry Town FC;
Caernarfon Town FC; 
Colwyn Bay FC;
Merthyr Tydfil FC; 
Newport AFC;
Newtown FC;  
Rhyl FC.

Dear Sirs,


It appears from recent Press reports that there are still remain certain misconceptions regarding the position of Welsh clubs hoping to continue to play in England rather than to play in Welsh football.

In order that you may fully understand the position adopted by The F.A. of Wales, and which was referred to at all meetings previously held regarding the formation of a national championship, the provisions are set our below:

1. The FA of Wales will seek, as one of its main objectives, entry to the European Champions Clubs’ Cup and to the UEFA Cup by the champion club and runner-up respectively of The League of Wales.

2. The FA of Wales will continue to nominate the winners of the Welsh Cup for entry to the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

In pursuit of these objectives, the FA of Wales will take into account the objections previously raised by UEFA, and particularly the refusal to approve a competition in which the leading clubs do not take part because they are playing in the national championship of another association.

To meet that objection, the FA of Wales will not grant sanctions under Rule no.62 to any club to join the English pyramid leagues in season 1992-93 and thereafter.  The Association will shortly hold a meeting with the Football Association regarding the possibility of any club wishing to play in England being able to affiliate directly to one of its member County Associaitons and thereby ceding its status as a Welsh club for the purpose of playing in competitions and for the registration and disciplining of players, etc.

However, if this procedure is not acceptable to UEFA in recognising the League of Wales as being a proper Welsh championship for the purposes set out above, then I have to inform you that the Association is agreed that clubs will not be allowed to play henceforward in England.

It is important to refer at this point to the standing of the clubs playing in The Football League.  These clubs are staffed by full-time professional players.  We acknowledge that The League of Wales will not be able to provide for these clubs on such a basis and we further note that to force the three clubs to break te contracts held would subject them to stringent penalties under the Employment Act and for restraint of trade.  Therefore, with UEFA’s permission, these clubs will continue to play in The Football League and to be eligible for participation in the Welsh Cup.  No semi-professional club based in England will be offered that participation as from next season.

We have agreed that meetings will be held with The Football Association and with UEFA during October to examine the situation further.  However, UEFA’s committee will not meet until mid-December, and I do not foresee a definitive statement until that time.

The Association has made it clear that it will proceed with its plans for the new Championship, but it will be prepared to meet with each and every club for further discussions if that should be your wish.

Yours Faithfully,

A. E. Evans

Introducing... Evan Sillette

At the end of the troubled 1950-51 season (weren't they all?!), Barry began to attract new players - what with the money that was suddenly swilling around the club after a dramatic last minute buy-out.

One of these new players was Evan Sillette.  Although he signed from Ipswich Town, where he'd only ever been a youth player or Reserve, he actually hailed from Barry.

Presumably, this connection had something to do with one Bill Jones.  Bill Jones originally played for us in the 1930s, but after the War he had resurfaced as some kind of guru and 'advisor' at Barry Island where the Island team went on to win the then prestigious Youth Cup.

He was also the local scout for Ipswich Town.  I haven't checked, but it wouldn't surprise me to find that Evan Sillette was a product of this Barry Island team.

Anyway, by May 1951 it was announced in the local press that Barry Town had signed Sillette and fans would see him make his debut for the club at the Festival of Britain Match against Newport County at Jenner Park.  Our manager at the time?  Bill Jones.

In what surely has to be the most stunning of debut appearances, Sillette put the Linnets 1-0 up in the first minute.  In fact, the goal was actually clocked at 8 seconds!  Quite the signing.  He added another in the second half, and with a further goal from McLaren on the hour mark, Barry ran out 3-1 winners.  The date was May 11th 1951

Other debutantes that evening were Bobbie Quinn, ex of Celtic, and Charlie 'Midge' Hill, recently ex of QPR and Swindon Town - but it's Sillette's debut that no doubt stuck in the minds of the Barry fans as they left Jenner Park that evening.

Unfortunately, despite making such an impact on his debut it was to be Evan Sillette's only game for Barry Town.  With just weeks to go to the start of the 1951-52 Sillette was described as being "snatched from under the noses of Barry Town" by Southern and Welsh League rivals, Lovell's Athletic, and that was that.

In truth, there was so much going on at Barry during the summer of 1951 that perhaps Sillette somehow got lost in the mix of all the new faces, such as Charlie Dyke and Johnny Foxton, arriving at the club.

Anyway, he may have had only one game, but let's get Evan Sillette's name out there shall we?  The boy who scored a goal for his home town club just 8 seconds into his debut - and to do it against an arch rival such as  Newport County was fantasy football for the Barry fans.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Find us a chair, man.

Barry Football Club Wants Chairs 

The Barry Herald 
Friday, July 21st, 1951

Barry Entertainments Committee last week considered an application from Barry Town AFC for the use of 300 beach chairs during the coming season.

A letter from the manager of the club stated that if the loan was granted the club would take full responsibility in providing transport for the chairs and that after the match the chairs would be stored away securely.

The chairs would be required from August 11th, 1951, to the end of May 1952.

"The missus never did like watching Bangor bloody City"

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Cardiff's Plan to Save Barry Town

Vetoed by Welsh League Committee
The Barry Herald
Friday, 26th January 1951

Negotiations which have been going on between Barry Town and Cardiff City in an effort to keep Barry Town AFC in existence have been unsuccessful because of the unyielding attitude of the Welsh League Management Committee.

An application was made to the Welsh League for the City to have Jenner Park registered as their Welsh League ground, but the League have insisted on the Cardiff Club's games being played at Ninian Park.

It is revealed then that Mr Ben Lobley, Chairman of the Barry Town Directors approached Sir Herbert Merritt, the Cardiff City president, asking if the City would help Barry in their present plight.

Sir Herbert, on behalf of Cardiff City, made proposals which included the playing of games at Jenner Park and the offer of a  substantial sum of money.  Had the proposal been favourably received it is likely that some Football Combination games as well as Welsh League ones would have been played at Jenner Park.

Latest Result:
Southern League
Barry Town 3 Bedford Town 1

Although Barry recorded their third successive win and completed the double over Bedford at Jenner Park on Saturday, the attendance of barely 600 spectators was no encouragement to the Directors to keep the flag flying.  The gate money was only enough to meet half the wage bill for the day.

Ed; Despite all sorts of attempts to save the club from extinction, all appeared to be lost with the Cardiff City Jenner Park rental deal falling on deaf ears at the Welsh League.  However, within a week of this story appearing in the local press, a mysterious backer appeared on the scene known only as 'Mr. X'.  Well, it was the 1950s!  And he had no Malaysian connections.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Barry Town's first silverware

When Barry (Town) AFC was formed in 1912, the club opted to join the increasingly popular Southern League for 1913-14 (after all, with Cardiff doing well - why shouldn't Barry?  We'd been better at the game than them for a decade. Cardiff who?).

The club did okay in its first season; won its first ever game (vs. Mid Rhondda United at a brand spanking new Jenner Park), and finished a creditable mid-table against some pretty well established sides.  

After years - decades, even - of trying to make a success of the Barry District side, there appeared to be, finally, a genuine impetus and excitement surrounding the new club and the prospects of the town having League Football within a short space of time. 

Of course, as we've all become accustomed to by now - nothing would ever be that simple.  

The District AFC hadn't matured into anything, and with the lack of a decent ground putting paid to any further ambitions, The Linnets came along to improve the town's prospects.

And then came the Great War almost overnight.  The club was instantly moth-balled, players were called up to the war effort, and we even lost our first club captain, Jim Wightman, at the Front. 

Jenner Park had been waste ground on the lower slopes of Barry and Gladstone Roads, owned by the Jenner family of the Wenvoe Estate.  Local sporting enthusiasts (including, no doubt, all those who had bought shares in the club in November 1912!) had levelled it off, and put down a pitch with a drainage solution that would be the envy of far bigger clubs.

Sponsorship came in the form of changing rooms and a stand by brewers Brains and Hancock's.  The club had received, well, begrudging support from some elements of the council, and wild enthusiasm from others - most notably of course, our own Founding Father, Councillor C. B. Griffiths.

So, with Jenner Park getting the nod of approval from the official Southern League inspector, it must have been a bitter pill for the ground to become an army camp and a barrage balloon site for the next five years.  Mind you, it would get worse - at one point rugby was allowed to be played on it.  But, whatever.


If the club had one thing to look back on with some pride was the fact that the 'A' side had brought home the inaugural piece of silverware to the club.  It's a little known fact that besides Barry's famous Southern League side, they also fielded a side in the Cardiff and District League (where the biggest competition, ironically, came from Barry clubs).  This 'A' side also entered into Barry's local cup competitions.  Now, this was before the creation of the Barry Cup and the Dockers' Cups of course, but there was a cup on offer - the ASRS Cup.  

No doubt the cup was created to commemorate Barry having the honour of hosting the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants Annual General Meeting several years before (I guess it must have been like hosting Eurovision but with less songs), the annual charity competition had actually been going on in Barry since at least the 1890s.  

Now, however, this annual Easter 'play-off' for charity between two prominent local sides (be it in football or rugby), had been organised into a proper knock-out tournament with a cup for the winners.  It was actually a big deal back then, with a huge crowd watching the first ever final at Romilly Park.

As it was, Barry 'A's First Round match was a tough one - Barry West End, one of the premier sides in Barry.  In fact, the season before, the West End had actually travelled north to take on Bolton Wanderers in a friendly.  

So, late December 1913 saw the Barry 'A' take on Barry West End at Jenner Park in front of a 'goodly number of spectators', and the football on offer was of a high quality.  Barry 'A' had taken a 2-0 lead through Farmer, but were pegged back to 2-2 by half time.  There were no further goals, so the two teams would have to fight it out another time.  

Meanwhile, in the draw for the next round, the winners would be pitted against Wenvoe, and the local newspapers revelled in the fact that the Cardiff clubs had already been defeated.

The replay between the 'A' and the West Enders took place on 31/01/1914 at Romilly Park in front of some 'tremendous local interest'.  Charlie Probert, a future Barry Town pro, put the West End ahead, and Bunford made it 2-0 after some incredible pressure on the Barry A goal.  So, at 2-0 at half time, it was all going the West End way.  

However, the 2nd half saw the Jenner Park outfit play their best football of the season with Thomas scoring two goals in quick succession to level the tie at 2-2.  Farmer, the scorer of the two goals in the previous round, popped up to score the winning third goal for the Barry 'A' in extra time.

A week later the Barry West End, at Trought's Restaurant, decided to make a presentation for Billy Jennings who had signed for Bolton Wanderers the season before from the West End and had just received the call-up to the Wales squad.

Barry 'A' met Wenvoe in the next round and the 3-0 victory over (with goals from Crockett and Billy Saunders) was straight forward enough, as was the 4-1 win over Barry Roxburgh, and this set them on course to a mouth-watering ASRS Cup Final clash with the mighty Cadoxton Old Boys.

The Cadoxton Old Boys had defeated the Barry Lindens easily enough as well, by 7-1, with five goals from future Barry War-Time player 'Tich' Evans.

The ASRS Cup Final was played at Jenner Park (the first of many), and was actually the first ever final played at the ground.  Apparently, the pitch was in a terrible state (something the current manager of Barry Town still mentions - frequently!), but it was Barry 'A' who played the better football and thoroughly deserved the 2-1 win and the first silverware for the new football club. Alf Green scored from the penalty spot, and Farmer scored yet again to bring the cup to the 'A'.

There would be some joy for Cadoxton residents though, as Cadoxton Victoria defeated Roath Park United in the Final of the Bevan Shield at Jenner Park a week later.

The season was finished off on April 30, 1914 with a Jenner Park friendly between Barry's Southern League team and 'The Pick of the District' (which included West End, Cadoxton, Barry Island, and Barry A players) in aid of the Barry Horticultural Society.

The ASRS Cup is still played for by today's local leaguers, and the last time a Barry Town side entered the competition was in 2007-08.   It would be nice to have a big enough set-up to once again have a side playing in the local league and play for the local cups.  Wonder if Cossie is up to the task (again?!).