Barry Town AFC Season 1996-97 team photoPosted: February 27, 2014
The 1996-97 season was quite probably the greatest season for Barry Town in the long history of the football club. Having won the League of Wales title the season before, manager Paul Giles had moved on. Gary Barnett, who had signed for us from Leyton Orient for the 1995-96 season saw this as an opportunity to further his career and applied for the vacancy.
By his own admission, ‘Barney’ was surprised to have been given the job, but Barry Town Chairman Paul O’Halloran’s faith was fully justified. Having played hundreds of Football League matches with the likes of Oxford United, Fulham, Huddersfield Town and the Orient, O’Halloran evidently saw that Barney was ready for management. Their mutual decision was to prove a golden era for the old club.
Barney himself picks up the story when remembering the era on the Fulham FC website:
The next year saw us create history as the first League of Wales side to progress beyond the opening round of a European competition. Following victory in Latvia over Dinaburg FC, we beat Hungarian side Budapest Vasutas in one of several epic European nights at Jenner Park. Despite trailing 3–1 from the away leg, we stormed to a victory in the return match by the same scoreline, and then won a penalty shoot-out 4–2.
“A ‘Battle of Britain’ with Scottish club Aberdeen was the reward and, after losing 3–1 at Pittodrie, we drew 3–3 in a rain-swept home leg. We lost but we did South Wales proud. The national media interest we generated was remarkable and I think those exploits really put Barry Town on the football map.
“Without sounding boastful, I am proud of my record as manager at Barry. On the domestic scene, we were all-conquering, clinching a first-ever treble of League of Wales championship, Welsh League Cup and Welsh Cup. The championship was claimed with a record 105 points and a goal difference of more than 100. Then, from March 1997, we went 51 matches without losing a league game, just one of many records we set in the 1990s.”
Gary Barnett was inducted into the Barry Town Hall of Fame at the 100th Anniversary of Barry Town event held at the Angel Hotel, Cardiff, in November 2012.