Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Welsh Cup Trail : Shades of '94

Barry Town Association Football Club is now just hours away from the biggest game the club has faced in a decade - a Welsh Cup Semi Final appearance against Prestatyn Town. Prestatyn Town are a club that we've never faced before at any level of competition, so this adds to the feeling of uniqueness of the occasion.

Other bloggers and commentators have suggested that our route to the Semi Final was made easy by the luck of the draw and the level of opposition we've faced along the way. This is unfair. This is unfair to us, and it's certainly unfair to our opposition. None of whom have been easy walkovers the results have sometimes portrayed. Believe me, when you've lost to opposition from Division One down to Division Three in the Welsh Cup over the last 10 years, you really do take nothing for granted.

Besides which, this Welsh Cup run has come against a background of some admittedly patchy league performances, and even a defeat against the bottom club in the three divisions of the Welsh League in the League Cup. Allied to this has been the removal of the club secretary by the owner, threats, insinuations, and even an attempted removal of the club's true talisman himself, Gavin Chesterfield.

So, no. Are you for real? Our run in the Welsh Cup has most definitely NOT been easy.

And I think this is why the communal garden Barry Town supporter is getting prepared for the Welsh Cup Semi Final on Saturday with what is tantamount to simply having a humorous and good heart about the whole damn thing. This is a 10 year rollercoaster of mostly troughs and loops, and we feel we've worked our way to the top of that rollercoaster right now.

Sure, we'd all like to us in the Final. Wouldn't we? Some have said we 'deserve' it after all the shit we've suffered at the hands of one of the most abhorrent owners Welsh football as ever seen. No, we don't 'deserve' anything. Nobody does. You need to earn it. And, bloody hell, these players have earned this. There's no divine intervention at play here - other than TJ having the feet of a god - it's down to sheer hard work, sheer bloody determination, and the ability to truly dig in when adversity is staring you down from a very great height.

Therefore, rather cornily perhaps, we really do take each game as it comes. For me, and lots others, the Semi Final is not the game before the Final, it's simply the Semi Final. That's it. Get that sorted and the rest will follow. Expect nothing, but earn your place.

We'll let the opposition worry about the fabled spot in the Europa League. That's their pressure, not ours. That's not this club's aim. Not right now.

In many ways Barry Town's 2012-13 Welsh Cup campaign has all the hallmarks of the now almost mythical 1993-94 campaign - triumph out of adversity, preparing for a massive match and with not even half an eye on Europe.

It's enough to experience the Semi Final, to say we'd done it, for the players to say they'd achieved it with Barry Town. For many of them it will be the peak of their careers to date. I can guarantee you this current crop of players at Barry Town want to do well in the Semi Final, do it for themselves, for the club, and for the fans. And nothing more.

Much like their predecessors did in 1994.

Barry Town v Prestatyn Town (at Latham Park, Newtown AFC), Welsh Cup Semi Final, Saturday 6 April 2013. £7