Barry Town United have begun preparations for the biggest match of the summer, with old rivals Newport County set to bring a full-strength side to Jenner Park on Tuesday 25 July (7.30pm).
The Exiles are the headline attraction of the Town’s pre-season programme - with the match in Barry their penultimate friendly fixture before kicking off their Sky Bet League Two campaign in August.
Matches against Newport County are almost as old as the Jenner Park outfit itself, with Barry welcoming a Newport team for the first time in February of 1914, a feisty affair that the Barrians won 6-2 with former West Bromwich Albion man Bert Millard scoring the side’s first ever hat-trick.
Meeting in the Southern, Western and Welsh Leagues across their respective histories, Barry’s heaviest first team defeat would come at the feet of Newport, an 11-1 thrashing in 1932.
After the Second World War, Barry and Newport would contest what is thought to be Wales’ earliest floodlit football match at Jenner Park in 1949, a fixture the visitors would win by three goals to one.
Two years on, the Town made their way to the FA Cup First Round for only the third time, yet again Newport would prove a stumbling block, handing Barry a 4-0 defeat in front of over 11,000 fans.
Then, in 1955, Newport would heap even more misery on the Town, putting an end to Barry’s maiden defence of the Welsh Cup trophy with an 8-1 humbling of the holders at Somerton Park.
Accelerating to the 1990s, both Barry and Newport would find themselves in the same Beazer Homes League Midland Division, with the inaugural season of match-ups seeing both sides record a 1-0 success on home soil (Wayne Matthews scoring the winner for the Town in March 1991).
The subsequent season saw a big Boxing Day derby showdown between the two Welsh teams at Jenner Park, with Brian Davies and the prolific Steve Williams on target for the Town in a 2-2 draw.
However, the creation of the new League of Wales in 1992 would change the course of history, with the resultant dispute serving up the unlikely scenario of two Barry vs Newport matches played across the border in England (the respective teams exiled at Worcester and Moreton-in-Marsh).
While the Barry XI finished ahead of Newport in 1991, 1992 and 1993, the clubs would soon take considerably differently paths; Newport waging a legal war with the Football Association of Wales that would ultimately preserve their place in the English system, while former Barry chairman Neil O’ Halloran began chasing the dream of European success through the Welsh football pyramid.
Divided by a border politics, meetings between Barry and Newport became a rare occurrence; not even the fondly-remembered FAW Premier Cup, a competition designed to facilitate matches between the Welsh Premier League and Football League sides, would pair the teams together.
However, in 2011, the FAW’s decision to invite the exiles back into the Welsh Cup saw a host of interesting ties pulled out; including a Third Round clash between Town and County at Spytty Park.
Having beaten Merthyr at Penydarren Park, Barry took to the field with aplomb that evening, taking a sensational lead when forward TJ Nagi fired home a stunning effort that soared into the stanchion.
The goal set the tone for a hard-fought war and while Newport would eventually emerge as 3-2 winners, the rollercoaster battle was one of the most memorable of the Town’s entire campaign.
In May 2013, Newport secured a long-awaited return to the Football League; a mere two days before Barry found themselves without a league of any kind. However, with the Town rallying to survive and kick-start their own remarkable revival, the July 25 match at Jenner Park will be the first ever Barry vs Newport encounter to pit a Welsh Premier League side against one from the EFL.
Next week, we will look at some of the key players set to feature at Jenner Park, as well as the Newport County manager whose Champions League goal secured him a place in Town history.
Tickets for Barry Town United vs Newport County on Tuesday 25 July at Jenner Park are available from barry.ticketsource.co.uk at £5 (adults) and £3 (concessions), with small booking fee applicable.