By Ashley Cox

BARRY Town United were the talk of Welsh football this week, after the Jenner Park club announced the surprise signing of Wales international midfielder David Cotterill.

The 32-year old, who was part of Chris Coleman’s Euro 2016 squad, was unveiled on Thursday evening and is poised to go straight into Gavin Chesterfield’s plans for this Saturday’s JD Cymru Premier Phase Two opener, with the team at home to Connah’s Quay Nomads (2.30pm kick-off).

After making 18 English Premier League appearances in for Wigan Athletic (with the Latics paying £2,000,000 to bring him from Bristol City as an 18-year old), Cotterill racked up a further 270 in the Championship and 106 more in League One, turning out for the likes of Swansea City, Portsmouth, Barnsley, Doncaster Rovers and Birmingham City.

Debuting for John Toshack’s Wales against Azerbaijan in October 2005, Cardiff-born Cotterill made his international bow as a substitute for the current national team boss Ryan Giggs and would be capped at senior level some 24 times in total, including appearances against Brazil and Germany.

Scoring twice for his country, including an important goal against Cyprus in the successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, Cotterill’s last Wales cap came in the 2018 World Cup Qualifying Round draw with Georgia at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Speaking on Thursday, Barry manager Gavin Chesterfield said: “I’m delighted to welcome David to the club. It’s a boost for all involved with our football club and supporters of Welsh football. This has been something we have talked about for a while but the timing now seems right”.

“At only 32 years old, David has a lot to offer on the field and in the changing room. He has shown a desire to be a part of our club and play with (cousin and Barry captain) Jordan. David started his football at Barry Bluebirds at the age of six and it is great to welcome him back to Barry”.

With news of Cotterill’s signing setting social media alight, it is hoped that a bumper crowd will be at Jenner Park to greet him this Saturday, in spite of the competition of televised Six Nations rugby.

Commenting on his Twitter platform, Welsh football historian and author Phil Stead remarked: “There's a case to argue that David Cotterill is the Cymru Leagues’ biggest name signing ever.”

Indeed, while Cotterill has been inactive since a short spell with Indian Super League outfit ATK, his arrival at Jenner Park should prove a boost for Barry’s profile, as well as their on-field fortunes.

As it turned out, Cotterill was not the only one with family ties to arrive at Jenner Park last week, with Kyle Patten leaving Merthyr to join his brother Robbie in Chesterfield’s squad for Phase Two.

The Barry manager has touted the 25-year old as “a versatile player who can play in both defence and midfield, with a good pedigree and background both with Cardiff City and Newport County”.

After four and a half years at Penydarren Park, Patten made the scoresheet in the last of 110 Martyrs appearances, netting the opener in a 2-1 Southern League loss to Hayes and Yeading.

Meanwhile, the club has confirmed a handful of first team departures, with 19-year old goalkeeper George Ratcliffe returning to parent club Cardiff City for rehab after his upcoming knee surgery and maverick goalscorer Jonathan Hood emigrating to Australia, having made 55 appearances for Barry.

Hood scored 16 times in an eventful two-year stay at Jenner Park, including an unforgettable free-kick in the depths of stoppage time to secure a dramatic 2-2 draw away to The New Saints.

Barry’s next trip to Park Hall has been moved to Friday 6th May for live television coverage (8pm), avoiding any clash with the England versus Wales match at Twickenham the following afternoon.

In loan news, forward Eli Phipps made his Penybont debut in the Bridgend side’s recent JD Welsh Cup tie with Cardiff Met, while defender Lewis Cosslett scored the winner for Pontypridd Town in their 1-0 JD Cymru South success at Llantwit Major on Saturday.

Finally, there was plenty of cup success to celebrate at Jenner Park on Sunday afternoon, as Barry Town sides advanced in the Welsh Women’s League Cup and the Welsh Youth Cup competitions.

By beating Airbus 3-1, the Barry development squad will now face TNS in the Welsh Youth Cup semi-final on neutral ground in March, the winners advancing to a final against either Newtown or Chirk.

Meanwhile, the ladies progressed to the last four of their tournament with a 4-1 victory over Cascade, with Penybont and Merthyr among the potential opponents at the semi-final stage.