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Monday, 14 August 2017 08:43


SUNDAY 13th AUGUST. Jenner Park, warm and dry.

A lot has happened since Jenner Park last hosted a Welsh Premier game, especially for the home club: nearly a decade of decline and despair, then crisis and finally a four year phoenix-like rise. Today is the culmination of that rise and the efforts that have made it possible. Fittingly, the S4C team are here to broadcast Barry's big day on live TV, but 902 spectators are here too [later confirmed as Barry's 5th largest ever attendance in the national league]. An impressive number, bearing in mind it's holiday season'; the match is being televised; the odd Sunday tea-time kick-off time deterring long-distance travellers; and the competing attractions of Man United and World athletics on television.

Published in Football
Thursday, 16 March 2017 22:00

A Dr Jekyll Night for Barry

TUESDAY 14th MARCH: Jenner Park - mild and misty
BARRY TOWN UNITED 2 HAVERFORDWEST COUNTY 0 (Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Div 1)
A misty, murky spring evening in Barry, but potentially a night of season-defining proportions for the Jenner Park club. On arrival at the ground, there's a sort of nervous tension pervading all pre-match conversations - "can't afford to lose", "must win", "six-pointer" etc.

And of course the tension is magnified by Barry's inconsistent, Jekyll and Hyde form in the league. You really wouldn't want have a significant wager riding on them - and it's this that differentiates the Welsh League title race from the other top leagues - TNS running away with the Welsh Premier, Prestatyn likewise in the Cymru Alliance, and both already crowned. Those are the sort of bets you'd have wanted to be on - short priced favourites, preferably selected under a Free Bet offer to maximise the return. Given such an opportunity now, I'd go for TNS to complete the treble, and steer clear of the trappy, unpredictable Welsh League.

Actually, ahead of this game it is Haverfordwest who have been talked up as the form team, with the momentum since the turn of the year, and maybe poised to sweep past Barry. To add to the intrigue and interest, there's the matter of revenge for that 7-1 battering the Bluebirds received here in the WPL Cup a few months back, plus the 'will they, won't they' saga of their attitude to promotion to the Welsh Premier.

Published in Football
Sunday, 22 January 2017 09:58

Saints Go Marching In (eventually)

SATURDAY 21st JANUARY. Cyncoed Campus, dry but very cold.
A very cold January day, many local games postponed with pitches frozen, but I'm spared the difficulty of finding a game on - I was never going anywhere today other than the Welsh Premier's Nathaniel MG Cup final.

Although it's my eleventh visit of this season to the Cyncoed Campus ground, the occasion and the size of the crowd should make this a bit special - or at least that is what I've been hoping. There has been plenty of pre-match build up online and in social and local media and what's been encouraging has been the signs that the FAW and the sponsors - Nathaniel Cars - are treating this as a 'big match' with all the trimmings appropriate to a national cup final - tickets on sale, press accreditation, pre-match hospitality etc. And indeed, on arrival at Cyncoed mid-afternoon, the promise is already being fulfilled. A couple of hours before kick off and the Students' Union bar is buzzing with early-arriving fans and VIPs (the college caterers laying on an excellent meal for the latter, whom I am fortunate to have been invited to join).

An hour before kick off, darkness starting to fall and temperature dipping further, but the ground is filling up, with the blue and yellow of Barry not surprisingly outnumbering the green and white of TNS. The choice of Cardiff Met University as the final venue might have been seen by some as controversial, but I think it's inspired: close enough to Barry to double or treble the number who will turn out to support them in their first cup final in a decade - plenty of them clearly not regulars at games. The small ground will give the game an atmosphere that it couldn't have had elsewhere - showpiece finals in big stadia (like recent Welsh Cup finals at Wrexham) may have superior facilities but lack atmosphere for those present and look empty on live TV.

Even so, I hear moans from the 'glass half empty' supporters of both sides about the Campus ground. It's always possible to find fault. But for Barry folk especially, gripes about a neutral venue eleven miles from home that guarantees them the majority of the crowd seem perverse. Would they have preferred the 'easy option' of, say, Newtown or Aberystwyth?

By 5.15, the crowd - officially 1,116 vindicating the FAW's choice - is lining the touchlines, filling the seats. A privileged few can avoid the plummeting temperature and watch from the elevated, indoor balcony, but for me there's nowhere to be but pitch-side. It could get uncomfortably cold, especially if the match is over, as a contest, within half an hour - a possible scenario, if the first goal or two go to the Saints.

Published in Football
Sunday, 27 March 2016 20:16

Honours Even

SATURDAY 26th MARCH: Jenner Park, wet & windy
BARRY TOWN UNITED 2 CARDIFF MET UNIVERSITY 2 (Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Div 1)
For a capital city, with a decent transport infrastructure, Cardiff is often a hard place to travel through on a Saturday: after weeks of disruption because of Six Nations rugby, our city is rugby-free at last. But it has managed to find an even more disruptive event to blight another Saturday - a "world" half-marathon that involves closing many city streets, disrupting public transport and predicted to bring gridlock.

It's tempting once again to avoid the centre of town, but Jenner Park is clearly the place to be this week, with a top of the table Welsh League fixture, so the cross-city journey must be made. I forsake the buses and travel by train leaving hours to get to Barry in time for kick off, but it's almost impossible to board my local train service - just room to squeeze onto the two carriages already crammed with a mixture of runners and spectators. It gets worse as we progress to Cardiff, particularly when a number of family groups decide to launch themselves and their buggies into the few inches of space at each door. The match had better be worth it after this.   (article continues - click on 'Read More')

Published in Football
Sunday, 06 December 2015 12:25

Another 5 for Dixon and Barry

SATURDAY 5th DECEMBER: Jenner Park, blustery wind, grey.
The continuing wet and stormy weather was always likely to disrupt this weekend's highly-anticipated Welsh Cup Third Round programme, and two ties I'd been contemplating were called off as early as Friday afternoon, leaving me to ponder what was left which was still plenty of choice. The weather forecast put me off travelling north or west, but luckily one of the more interesting south v north fixtures is on the new 3G pitch at Jenner Park: Barry Town United, lying fourth in the Welsh League First Division, entertain Denbigh Town, who are sixth in the Huws Gray Alliance, so it's as close on league standings as anything in this round.

Recent form gives conflicting indicators: Denbigh have a remarkable cup run to their name - having beaten four Welsh Premier teams en route to the final of TheWord Cup, but their league form is mixed in recent weeks. Meanwhile Barry put seven goals past Aberdare in the last round, but only just salvaged a draw against the same opposition in the league a week ago; when I watched them against Risca a few weeks ago, they struggled on the 3G and were hugely flattered by the 4-1 win. Based on my feeling that the Alliance is generally stronger, but that its teams have a weak record in south Wales, I think you can make a case for either side today; it just depends who's on form.

Published in Football
Sunday, 01 February 2015 11:41

Issue 179 - Feb/March 2015

WF 179

Published 30th January 2015. Contents include:


Features include:

A look at the teams topping the Welsh League's First & Second Divisions:


Looking back 100 years - the events of late 1914 as football tried to carry on in wartime

Looking back 25 years: Welsh Cup matches from 1989-90, including Barry Town, Merthyr Tydfil, Colwyn Bay and Caersws. Plus Newport AFC's title challenge in the Hellenic League. 

Jeff Jones visits Llanwern. 

Mike Jones reflects on Ebbw Vale in the 1960s.

The mystery posed by an old team photo from 1910-11.

Programme Reviews - Welsh League issues featured this month.

Welsh Premier, Welsh League, Huws Gray Alliance and Regions round-ups

AVAILABLE FROM ALL USUAL OUTLETS or by post from us (£3.55 inc. postage)

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Published in Publication Dates
Sunday, 04 January 2015 09:59


SATURDAY 27th DECEMBER: Jenner Park, cold & showery
BARRY TOWN UNITED 4 TATA STEEL 1 (Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Div 2)
After a dry festive period, there are at least no worries about postponements, and my intended first trip of the season to Jenner Park is not in doubt. Nevertheless, the weather manages to delay my journey, forcing me to take shelter at Cadoxton station for 15 minutes to avoid a fierce shower.

It's high time I watched Barry, who now top the Second Division after winning the Third last season. I perhaps could have chosen a match against a promotion rival, rather than struggling Tata Steel, who seem to be travelling in the opposite direction, having come down from Division One six months ago. My run of one-sided games may be about to continue...

Jenner Park is such a large stadium that it generally looks empty, even when, like today, a respectable crowd has gathered. It's generally believed to be around 175, which is more than some Welsh Premier matches attract, although maybe less than Barry would hope for, given they have a winning team and are doing everything possible to stimulate local interest. That said, for the spectator it's still a hit-and-miss experience: on the plus side, there's no shortage of cover, merchandise on offer and a good quality programme (although on this occasion something's gone wrong, as the line-ups have been omitted). But there's no public address operating today, and even worse, nowhere to get any type of refreshments. A hot drink on a cold day is a basic expectation at all but pure grassroots football and, while the answer should lie in the supposedly supportive Vale of Glamorgan Council granting the football club use of the large, vacant social club, in the interim an alternative is needed.

The game gets underway in an interlude between showers and does not live up to its top v bottom billing. Tata play their part in the first half and are far from over-run, while Barry struggle to assert control. After half an hour's fairly forgettable play, they do finally take the lead from a TJ Nagi header, fittingly marking his 100th appearance with a goal.

The second half starts much the same, but in rain and dipping temperatures, but is transformed by two goals in six minutes as Barry unlock Tata by getting round the back of the defence : in the 55th minute, Blatchford finishes off a neat move with a close range finish, then Dixon sidefoots a similar effort for 3-0. That just about wraps up the game and the remaining half an hour is once again academic. Tata do catch Barry by surprise from a free-kick to score a consolation, then sub Tom Billing restores the three goal cushion with a well-taken shot inside the near post. Barry enter 2015 unbeaten in the league but today's game hasn't told me much about their true strength. They've won without playing particularly well, and I suspect manager Gavin Chesterfield is likely to need to strengthen his squad for First Division football in due course - although I've been impressed with several of the current team today, notably Rhys James. It's good to see youth players being included in the squad too.

A worthwhile dose of fresh air and football in the midst of the holiday period. But when am I next going to see a game where the result is in the balance until the closing stages?

Published in Football
Thursday, 11 December 2014 21:05

Issue 178 (New Year 2015)

WF 178

Published 11th December 2014. Contents include:

Spotlight on CPD PWLLHELI

Features on:

  • Liverpool in Wales Part 4
  • Welsh Cup action
  • FAW Trophy action
  • Pembs. referees' centenary

Looking back 50 years - Barry Town's travels in December 1964

Looking back 25 years:

  • Colwyn Bay at Brymbo Steelworks in 1989,
  • Merthyr in FA Cup action at Hereford

Welsh Premier, Welsh League, Huws Gray Alliance and Regions round-ups

AVAILABLE FROM ALL USUAL OUTLETS or by post from us (£3.55 inc. postage)

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Published in Publication Dates
Friday, 07 February 2014 08:02

Issue 171

WF 171 cover

Publication date: 7th Feb 2014

Includes: spotlight on LLANFAIR UNITED, feature the progress made by fan-owned BARRY TOWN UNITED six months after reinstatement in the Welsh League, and a look at PONTYPRIDD TOWN's recovery after almost folding six months ago. 

Our 'Looking Back' feature continues with reflections on 1988-89, exactly 25 years ago this month, with illustrations and memories from games at Treharris, Pembroke Boro, Lex XI and Ferndale Athletic.

We feature the FAW Trophy 5th round with action from Cardiff Met and Penlan FC.

You'll also find an updated Welsh Football pyramid chart in this issue, plus photos from many recent games and all the usual news and round-ups from competitions around Wales.  

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Bulk order enquiries welcome - discounts available.


Published in Publication Dates
Saturday, 21 December 2013 19:36


SATURDAY 21ST DECEMBER: Jenner Park, mild and dry
BARRY TOWN UNITED 3 LLISWERRY 0 (Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Div. 3)
When the fixture lists were published back in the summer, my choice of game for today was written into my diary: this is the day that my childhood home team, AFC Wimbledon, come closest to my adult home, playing away to Newport County. And until 12.25 today, it was as simple as that. No need to check any other fixtures. The news that the game had been called off was unexpected - after all, it hadn't actually rained during the morning. County have obviously brought their dodgy drainage to Rodney Parade from Spytty.

Published in Football

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