Barry football year in review

2013 was a most remarkable of years for the players, staff and supporters at Jenner Park.

It was a year of transition, of unwanted withdrawal and unprecedented cup success. A year of triumph at the High Court and high drama on the pitch. A year of historical significance, that no-one associated with the club will ever forget.

Gavin Chesterfield's fan-run side began the year experiencing middling form in the Welsh League, but with the welcome distraction of a promising Welsh Cup run, that had already carried them to the Fourth Round.

In January, they welcomed Pontardawe Town to Jenner Park in front of the TV cameras and despite trailing to an early strike, Barry rallied to win 2-1.

Goals from Lee Baldock and Ryan Jenkins ensured the team's first big fightback in a year full of them.

In February, the Dragons overturned a 3-1 half-time deficit to win 4-3 at Monmouth Town, with midfielder Nickie Jones sealing a memorable hat-trick with a 90th-minute winner.

A month later to the day, Chesterfield took his side to the North Wales coast, for March's crunch Welsh Cup Quarter Final against Flint Town United.

Once more, Jenkins came through for Barry, capitalising to score the crucial second in a 2-0 win, after Ryan Evans' first half free-kick had spectacularly broken the deadlock.

For the Town, and their vocal band of travelling supporters, it was an unforgettable result: the first time an all-amateur Barry side had reached the competition's last four.

April saw a final (ever?) visit to the Brewery Field, where the Barry side faced a Bridgend Town team soon to merge with neighbours Bryntirion Athletic.

It proved a low-key affair, with all eyes drawn to the upcoming Welsh Cup semi-final against Prestatyn Town at Newtown's Latham Park.

That afternoon, over 400 supporters saw Barry enter a stirring performance in Mid Wales; equalising through TJ Nagi and more than matching the Welsh Premier contenders until the final ten minutes, when former Swansea striker Jason Price snapped Barry hearts in two with a headed winner.

The distress of defeat however paled in comparison to the sheer farce of what lay ahead.

On 7th May, spectators arrived at Jenner Park as usual; only to discover that the evening's final home match against Ton Pentre would not be going ahead.

To the dismay of the fans, who had been operating the team independently for some time, the club's owner had written to withdraw it from the Welsh League immediately, with just two games of the season remaining.

A sit-in protest ensued, with supporters, players and officials alike outlining both their willingness and ability to play on.

Their end of season awards night ten days later saw the team adopt the 'United' suffix; a symbollic measure as much as anything else, for a club that refused to be ripped apart.

In June, a meeting of the ruling FAW Council appeared primed to approve the motion for the fans to continue fielding their beloved side in the Welsh League.

However, this motion was ultimately vetoed, thus sparking a widespread campaign to save 100 years of Barry Town football; an issue that went as far as the Senydd and even Westminster.

July saw the FAW call another meeting to re-visit the decision. Remarkably, the majority in attendance voted against even discussing the matter; at considerable time and expense.

With court reluctantly on the horizon, Chesterfield's side stuck together; beginning their pre-season campaign, and even leading a Cardiff City side packed with internationals, despite not having a league of their own to play in.

To add further insult to injury, the team was then effectively outlawed from Wales; forced to find friendly opposition across in neighbouring England, yet forbidden from entering any of its divisions.

This all led to August's emotional court hearing; where the Barry team were finally granted entry to the Welsh League; albeit at a lower level than previously held.

The ruling galvanised the club, and the summer's final month saw the Town begin an unbeaten streak in the league that would take them all the way to Christmas.

In September, players and supporters marked 100 years at Jenner Park with a minute's applause, prior to the cup match against AFC Llwydcoed.

Barry supporters had built the ground for their senior team a full century earlier, and the anniversary proved an emotional landmark, particularly in the wake of near-oblivion.

Further vindication for the summer's battles came in October, when Barry knocked favoured visitors Taffs Well out of the Welsh Cup, before racking up their biggest league win at Jenner Park, an 8-0 triumph over Aberillery under the floodlights.

November spawned more thrills and spills, most notably in a 4-3 extra-time Welsh Cup win over Undy Athletic that was every bit the rollercoaster you could hope for in a match.

This set up a December showdown with undefeated North Walian leaders Cefn Druids, and while Barry were ultimately beaten, they put in a tremendous effort; wiping out a 2-0 deficit before the Druids powered through late on.

In the aftermath, Town switched full focus to the league, with the excellent ten-man comeback win over title challengers Risca United proving their best result of the season to date.

The end of year defeat at Llanelli however re-emphasised the difficulty of the division, with 20 important league games still on the horizon as we enter 2014.

As for 2013, Chesterfield's side played a total of 36 different teams at 26 different grounds, across two leagues, two cups and two countries.

Their final record for the calendar year reads P44, W29, D4, L11, F115, A58, meaning keen spectators will have seen an average of almost four goals per game.

30 players have wore Barry colours in 2013, with ten of them products of the youth set-up at Jenner Park.

In this time, 16 different players have made the scoresheet, most prominently strikers TJ Nagi and Jordan Cotterill, with 21 each to their credit.

Across the 44 outings, there have been 13 clean sheets, with the team failing to score on just three occasions.

Barry supporters also saw more Welsh Cup ties inside a calendar year than ever before; a total of 8, from qualifying rounds to semi-finals.

The final stats of 2013 belong to captain James Saddler. Having started every competitive match, James represented Barry for over 62 hours of football in 2013; a total of more than two and a half full days.

Saddler's sheer tirelessness has been typical of a side who have faced numerous challenges in 2013, yet come through stronger for them.

Supporter numbers meanwhile have shot up across 2013, with every senior player now sponsored and well over 100 replica shirts shipped out before Christmas.

With a new partnership with the Vale of Glamorgan Council seeing the launch of a revamped Development Centre for local youngsters, hopes are now high for a bright future both on and off the field.

Barry Town United AFC would like to thank all the players, supporters, officials, volunteers, ground staff, councillors, politicians, journalists and members of the community who helped the club survive this defining year, along with all its advertisers and sponsors.

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