A VALE councillor and footie fan has sponsored a match ball in celebration of Barry Town United’s 20th anniversary of achieving a sporting world first.
Councillor Ian Johnson the sponsored the match ball for the recent Vale of Glamorgan derby between Barry Town United and Dinas Powys – in celebration of the club’s famous first away match in European competition.
20 years ago on Monday, August 25, Barry Town played their first away game in the European Cup Winners’ Cup – facing Lithuanian opponents, Zalgiris Vilnius, from the then-recently dissolved Soviet Union.
Barry Town qualified for the competition after beating Cardiff City 2-1 at the old Cardiff Arms Park in May 1994, crowning a season where they were also promoted to the Welsh Premier, then called the League of Wales.
Barry Town became the first British club to play in the newly independent Baltic country, and 47 fans travelled to the match by bus across Europe, their progress being tracked by Interpol.
The match itself ended in a heavy 6-0 defeat at the hands of the former Supreme Soviet club but many happy memories were made – and a club fanzine, edited in his younger days by Cllr Ian Johnson, was titled 38 Hours from Vilnius after the epic non-stop return trip to Barry.
Cllr Ian Johnson said: “The trip to Vilnius was a fantastic experience for everybody who spent the best part of a week travelling beyond the old Iron Curtain and into the former Soviet Union – a first for almost everybody there.
“The game had a disappointing ending, but Barry Town learnt a lot from the experience and came back stronger into Europe two years later, beating Latvian and Hungarian teams before being edged out by Aberdeen at Jenner Park.
“With the current management team and structure in place at Barry Town United, I hope that the club can reach the Welsh Premier and be back in Europe again in future, and good luck to all Vale football and sports clubs in the 2014-15 season.”