Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Amateur Dramatics

Who's ever heard of Barry Amateurs AFC? Well, nobody has I guess.

In the summer of 1930, a new football team called Barry Amateurs AFC was created. The Amateurs soon formed a favourable agreement with Barry Town to play out of Jenner Park. The idea was to provide as good a spectacle of football for the people of Barry as possible on those weekends when the Town teams (Southern League and Welsh League) were out of town.

With white shirts, black shorts, a red badge and the best crop of local talent available, the Barry Amateurs burst onto the local football scene for the 1930-31 season. The Amateurs also featured several fringe Barry Town players, but would also give valuable experience to future Barry Town stars such as Hall of Famer Ernie Carless, Cliff Baggott, Harold Bayliss, Walter Pulling, and many more besides.

As an idea, it was quite forward thinking (but long overdue) in as much as Barry Town had never really had a so-called 'senior' amateur team since the Great War. In the years immediately after the War, Barry played in the Southern League, the Welsh League, and for a couple of seasons, the Western League, but had never had a club at local level despite the early success and influence of the new Barry & District League.

Ostensibly, the Southern League side had just as much status as its Welsh League counterpart. The Welsh FA had fined Barry for fielding a weakened team in the Welsh League when the club was going for Southern League championship glory (which it achieved). Many Barry players played in all three squads - quite how I don't know - and the likes of Billy Price played 96 games in the 1920-21 season alone.

However, having a side in a local league, like a nursery club, had not been done since the days of the Barry District AFC before 1912. So with the Barry Amateurs touting their arrival as the first time for the town to have a 'senior eleven' (at amateur level) and willing to assist Barry Town wherever it was able to, their arrival certainly came with a bang.

They had tremendous overnight success for a team that had come from a mere idea. Double winners in 1930-31 and 1931-32 and receiving some terrific support locally, it was a club on the up. They had lost just 4 times in their first 80 matches. The press dubbed them 'Barry's wonder team', 'the famous Amateurs', and 'renowned'. A South Wales Junior Cup match played at Treorchy drew a crowd of over 4,000.

Despite their loud arrival and their cup and league successes, the club was beset with controversy, recrimination and was still being talked of as threatening the very future of local football in Barry almost 20 years later. Their third season, 1932-33, would be their last. The club folded before completing its league commitments, and its records expunged.

The experiment of playing out of Jenner Park had lasted less than its first season, and the club was forced to endure a nomadic existence playing in the south of the town nearer to Sully, to the windswept northern outskirts at the Buttrills with zero facilities. To make matters worse, they now also had a Barry Town 'A' side replacing them at Jenner Park.

They had introduced an idea, and had it taken off them.

But why? And by whom?

Well, that next part is coming soon.

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