FOOTBALL supporters, managers, players, family, friends and special guests came together on Friday evening - to celebrate 100 Years of Barry Town!
The event, at the Angel Hotel in Cardiff, was organised by the Barry Town Supporters Committee to mark the 100th anniversary of the football club’s formation in November 1912.
Around 200 guests – among them football pundit Ray Wilkins and Cardiff City chairman TG - enjoyed a drinks reception, before entering the main function room – which had been completely transformed by Barry Town memorabilia.
Hundreds of team photographs, statistics sheets and programme covers adorned the walls, alongside pennants and scarves from illustrious adversaries.
Replica and match-worn shirts from across the years hung from the balcony, while a massive supporters’ flag overlooked proceedings.
Each table bore the name of a past opponent – from pre-war rivals Ton Pentre to European foes Budapest Vasutas.
Long-time club secretary David Cole kicked the evening off by introducing a parade of the club’s former players – a number of whom had travelled great distances to be in attendance.
Among their number were familiar faces Dicky Batt, John Prosser, Ray John, Phil McNeil, Phil Fisher, Graham Rogers, Trevor Nott, Mike Griffiths and Mike Hancock, each warmly welcomed.
A special cheer was reserved for the long-serving Bobby Smith, whose lengthy career at Barry Town ran into several hundred matches and culminated in Welsh Cup honours.
Former managers Andy Beattie, Paul Giles, David Giles, Ashley Griffiths, Gavin Price and Richard Jones were also greeted with grand applause – as was former title-winning captain Andrew York; with Cole remarking once more that “You’ll never beat a Yorkie!”
Rounding off the cavalcade of players, Lee Phillips, Scott Morgan, Lee Jarman, Tom Ramasut, Leigh Pratt, Nathan Cotterill and Anthony Redwood joined Richard Kennedy, who had flown in from Ireland, coach Damon Searle and the current squad of players; each continuing to fly the flag so proudly.
Others including Alan Curtis and Kenny Brown sent their well-wishes, adding to letters received in the week from Swansea City FC, Charlton manager Chris Powell and Rangers boss Ally McCoist.
During the procession, guests watched the first of several specially-made video montages prepared by Ashley Cox, which continued throughout the evening.
Taking to the lectern, supporters committee chairman Eric Thomas welcomed the evening’s distinguished guests - among them Barry Town Mayor Cllr Les Sword, Vale of Glamorgan Mayor Cllr Eric Hacker, and Welsh League secretary Ken Tucker.
Adding to their number was the Cardiff City chairman Dato Chan Tien Ghee, a surprise special guest who had flown in earlier that day to join the proceedings.
‘TG’ as he is more commonly known, also delivered a stirring impromptu speech - expressing the “privilege” he felt in attending and citing the “similar experiences” of the neighbouring clubs as a sign of a brighter future.
Urging Barry supporters to “keep the faith”, TG proclaimed that “nothing is impossible because of the passion and support of all ages, all types of people”.
Casting his eye across the room, he declared “I can assure you, I can see, that Barry Town AFC will continue”; a gesture of support that helped set the tone for the evening.
During the meal, a 90-minute slideshow rolled back the years, highlighting memorable moments, matches and memories from the pre-war years to the present day.
Thereafter, Derek Redwood spoke of his experiences as a Barry Town player; forging his way into the supremely successful Town side of the 1980s, racking up a host of memorable wins, narrowly losing to Reading in the FA Cup and playing against full internationals while in Barry Town colours.
Redwood was followed by Gary Barnett, who spoke of the passion and team spirit of his 1990s Barry sides. Remembering vividly the famous match with Aberdeen at Jenner Park, Barnett spoke of the intense media focus before the game and then the unforgettable night itself.
“The lads I had in that squad, they never knew when they were beaten”, he recalled.
“I am delighted to be here and really, really enjoyed every minute of my time at Barry Town”.
After guests watched a host of the club’s greatest goals and achievements on the big screen, current manager Gavin Chesterfield - whom Cole had hailed as a “driving force” - hosted a question and answer session with speaker Ray Wilkins.
The current Sky Sports pundit spoke at length on his stints with Manchester United, Chelsea and Queen's Park Rangers, as well as his time playing abroad with AC Milan and his infamous sending-off for England in the 1986 World Cup.
Sharing memories of footballing luminaries Kevin Keegan, Claudio Ranieri, Graeme Souness and Franco Baresi, Wilkins also had words of motivation for the Barry Town supporters.
“Dreams are for free; no-one pays for a dream. They can happen,” he said.
“I'm sure, given the passion that all you guys have for this lovely club, that it will come good once again.”
As the night drew towards a close, Jason Pawlin introduced the Barry Town Hall of Fame concept, and the achievements of legends such as Gwilym Cain, Ernie Carless, Dai Ward and Basil Bright were showcased on the screen.
Presentations were made to Barnett and David Giles, who accepted on behalf of the late, record-breaking goalkeeper Mark Ovendale. Ovendale came to the club under the Giles brothers’ management, and he both scored and saved penalties in the Welsh Cup Final during this era.
Pawlin also inducted Gary Lloyd, reiterating his “astonishing feat” of 500 top tier appearances and his outstanding goalscoring record as a defender.
The final presentation of the evening was a well-guarded secret, and went to Mike Cosslett; whose 38-year association with Barry Town earned a standing ovation.
Detailing Cosslett’s playing career at Barry and beyond, Gavin Chesterfield spoke glowingly of his assistant manager, describing how the man known affectionately as ‘Cossie’ “more than most made it clear to me what this club is about, what it stands for”.
“From the moment he walked in - tanned, shorts on, socks rolled up, even though it was the midst of winter - I just can't describe how he's helped me,” said Chesterfield.
“I wouldn't be able to do the job today without him”.
Further praise came from members of the current Barry side, while defender Lewis Cosslett was left with the honour of presenting the award to his father - in an emotional and fitting end to the inaugural Hall of Fame presentations.
The strains of ‘Up The Town’ then filled the room, soundtracking a humorous short film on the club’s supporters and preceding a final poem, which commemorated one of the current team’s greatest results in the 3-0 win over historic rivals Merthyr.
The night of celebration was a credit to event organiser Hannah Chesterfield, and the Barry Town Supporters Committee, each of whom helped play a part in making the night a fitting salute to a century of football.
The BTSC would like to thank all who attended and helped to make the event a rousing success – and also send best wishes to club historian Jeff McInery, whose countless hours preserving the history of the club provided so much of the inspiration for the evening.