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History

Senior football first emerged as a popular pastime in Barry towards the end of the 1800s, as a host of teams using various names battled for regional supremacy.

In 1892, a team named Barry District was formed, beginning a decade of football under various names at numerous grounds in the town.

Players who featured in these years included Ted Vizard and Billy Jennings; each would go on to feature in the notorious ‘White Horse’ FA Cup Final.

In November 1912, a meeting at The Windsor in Holton Road saw townsfolk choose to pursue membership of the thriving Southern League, as Barry AFC.

The people of Barry then came together to build Jenner Park, ahead of the first match on September 6th 1913 vs Mid-Rhondda United.

A crowd of 4,000 watched Barry win 2-1 and the ensuing two seasons would see Stoke City, Brentford, Coventry City and others visit the new ground.

However, the First World War would soon interrupt competitive proceedings; with Barry captain Jim Wightman one of many casualties at the Somme.

1920-21 proved a season of landmark success, as Barry’s “wonder team”, led by goalkeeper, manager and secretary Bill Bowen, won the Southern League’s Welsh section; despite playing over 100 matches in all competitions.

There were hopes this would act as a springboard to the Football League, but Charlton Athletic and Aberdare Athletic were elected instead.

Barry continued as part of the Southern League set-up. Among the notable players of the era were Johnny Gardner (500+ appearances), Dai Ward (300+ goals) and Fred Whitlow (100+ goals).

Meanwhile, Barry-born Ernie Carless combined his footballing exploits with a successful cricketing career at Glamorgan.

At the end of the decade, a crowd of 6,000 at Upton Park saw Barry beat Dagenham 1-0 to progress to the FA Cup 2nd Round; before losing to Brighton & Hove Albion 10 days later.

Barry would reach the 1st Round again in 1934-35, losing 1-0 to Northampton Town at Jenner Park. The build-up to the match had been tainted by a fire that ravaged the grandstand.

Football again took a backseat in 1939, with the eruption of the Second World War. Barry’s Chris Mason would be captured as a POW during the conflict, though would return to Jenner Park to resume his career after the war’s conclusion.

After World War II, with players such as Derek Tapscott, Stan Richards and Gwilym “Cannonball” Cain joining the cause, with the team now going by the name of Barry Town.

In the 1949-50 season, Jenner Park became one of the first grounds in the country to introduce floodlights, with Newport, Swansea and Cardiff City all visiting to showcase the facilities.

Two seasons later, an all-Welsh showdown in the FA Cup 1st Round saw Barry outclassed by Newport County 4-0. Nevertheless, the town’s most celebrated footballing achievement was right around the corner.

In May 1955, after a 1-1 draw at the Racecourse in Wrexham, Barry beat Chester City 4-3 at Ninian Park to lift the Welsh Cup for the first time. Former Chelsea midfielder Charlie Dyke scored the winner, with a dramatic late free-kick.

In the late 1950s, a host of Scandinavians made their way to Jenner Park, and dazzled Barry football enthusiasts with their skill.

Among their number were Finland’s Hannu Kankkonen and Bengt ‘Folet’ Berndtsson; a member of the Sweden squad that reach the 1958 World Cup Final.

In 1961, Queen’s Park Rangers visited Jenner Park in the FA Cup 1st Round. A crowd of 7,000 saw Laurie Sheffield’s opener for Barry cancelled out late on. QPR would win the replay at Loftus Road comfortably.

The 1960s and 70s at Jenner Park are remembered fondly in the town for the personalities that pulled on the Barry shirt.

Among them, prolific goalscorers Ken Gully and Clive Ayres, brothers John and Dickie Batt, long-serving Bobby Smith and Ashley Griffiths, and Mike Cosslett; today a member of the Barry coaching staff.

In 1982, Barry would leave the Southern League, focusing on Welsh League competition and winning six Welsh League titles before the decade’s end; thanks in no small part to the goals of Steve Williams.

The biggest match in the town all decade though came on 17th November 1984, where 3,850 crammed into Jenner Park to watch Barry vs Reading in the FA Cup 1st Round. Despite Ian Love‘s goal, an injury-time winner by Trevor Senior was enough to send the Royals through.

1989 saw a return to England, as Barry entered the Southern League’s Midland Division. They would consistently finish in the top six.

However, the creation of the League of Wales in 1992 prompted a decree that Barry would no longer be able to compete in the English pyramid from their Jenner Park base.

Town chairman Neil O’ Halloran orchestrated a way for his team to continue in England; playing as ‘Barri’ out of Worcester City’s St. George’s Lane.

However, this arrangement would last only one season; O’ Halloran performed a u-turn that saw Barry accepted into the Welsh League Division One for the 1993/94 campaign.

In 1993/94, Barry won a domestic quadruple, earning promotion to the League of Wales and winning a famous Welsh Cup Final against Cardiff City at the National Stadium.

A first League of Wales championship in 1996 under Paul and David Giles was followed by the building of a brand new stand at Jenner Park, which enabled the ground to host three European matches that Autumn.

After winning their opening tie in Latvia, Barry beat Budapest Vasutas on penalties at a packed Jenner Park to progress to the 1st Round proper of the UEFA Cup.

The opponents were Aberdeen and classic battles at Pittodrie and Jenner Park ensued. Sadly, O’ Halloran had passed away months prior.

In 2001, Barry won in Azerbaijan to set up a UEFA Champions League qualifier with FC Porto. After being trounced 8-0 in Portugal, Peter Nicholas’ side won 3-1 at Jenner Park.

However, this golden era would not last forever, and Barry were relegated from the League of Wales in 2004.

A most turbulent period would begin, and prospects for Barry Town looked bleak until the appointment of Gavin Chesterfield as manager in the summer of 2007.

In 2012/13, after years of steady progress, Chesterfield’s Barry team enjoyed Welsh Cup success once more; progressing to the semi-finals, losing 2-1 to winners Prestatyn Town.

This resurgence was halted when the owner of Barry Town AFC Ltd. moved to withdraw from the Welsh League less than a month later.

However, the supporters, who had been operating the football team for several seasons, outlined their will for the club to continue in the Welsh League, with the same players and manager in tow.

In August 2013, a High Court battle saw them placed in Division Three of the Welsh League - ensuring that the club's colourful story could continue.

Having added the United suffix months earlier, the team hit the ground running; and would earn both promotion and the championship the following spring, the latter secured with victory on the final day of the season.

In 2015, Chesterfield's side secured the Division Two championship on home turf, weeks after securing their return to Division One.

Then, after narrowly missing out on their first season back, Barry lifted the Division One title in the spring of 2017, having secured promotion to the Welsh Premier League once more with two games to play.

For more information on the history of the club, visit our archive; which contains season-by-season results and statistics.

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