Barry Amateurs AFC : 1930-1933

Formation of the Barry Amateurs

The Barry Amateurs AFC were formed during the summer of 1930, and by the start of the 1930-31 season had joined in partnership with Barry Town to share the facilities at Jenner Park and play in the Cardiff & District League. The brainchild of the new club appears to be Thomas G. Blainey who was a referee, as well as being part of the Barry & District League, and the South Wales & Monmouthshire Football Association.

Looking into the final matches of the 1929-30 Barry & District League season there was some controversy over the Final of the Barry Junior Cup. Alec Watts, a Barry Junior player, was refused entry to the Cup competition due to the player being based in Cardiff. Presumably, it was W.H. Gardiner who blocked his entry and it just happened to be that Alec Watts was the nephew of Thomas G. Blainey, the Chairman of the League. As Watts had appeared in the winning side, the result was expunged and replayed at the start of the following season, with Watts absent from the line-up. The result went the other way the second time around.

While this was happening, the Barry & District League under guidance from TG Blainey had gone on a short, but very successful 1930 Easter tour taking in Cardiff Corinthians, Taunton Town and Tiverton where the team returned undefeated. It was the first time in the records that I can find that a representative XI of the League had done such a thing. Maybe this was the genesis of the idea of the Barry Amateurs a few months later?

Having got the right to play in the Cardiff & District League, and the right to play out of Jenner Park, the Barry Amateurs set out to be the very best they could be at their level and promptly tempted the best players in the Barry League to join their cause. Teams that had featured in the various Barry League cup finals lost players to the Barry Amateurs, and the end of season tour of the Barry League XI featured no fewer than seven regulars of what would become Barry Amateurs.

However, controversy raged that this new club not only took the ‘cream of the crop’ of the local Barry sides, but had chosen to favour the Cardiff League over the Barry League. As TG Blainey had been the Chairman of the Barry League prior to the new club starting its season it does appear to be a terrific snub.

Barry Amateurs at Jenner Park

Barry Amateurs began in a blaze of glory when TG Blainey announced the club to the Barry newspapers: Lovers of football will be well catered for at Jenner Park this coming season, for not only will they have the Barry AFC who will be running in the Welsh and Southern Leagues with their usual cup-ties and a team well able to keep up Barry’s reputation in such competitions, but they will also have on alternative dates the opportunity of witnessing competitive football by the Barry Amateurs AFC, who through the generosity of the directors of the Barry AFC., will play their matches at Jenner Park on very satisfactory terms.

The new club had secured friendlies with Clapton Orient and Queen’s Park Rangers, and announced that the very best amateur clubs could be entertained at Jenner Park such as Lovell’s Athletic, Cardiff City ‘A’, Swansea Town ‘A’, and Abercynon. The club, it was said, would play in “white shirts with a red ‘B.A.’ badge, black knicks and black and white stockings”, and that “the Amateurs when needed, will to the best of their ability, assist Barry AFC and we hope the public will patronise both clubs.”

The 1930-31 season : Cardiff & District League Champions / Lord Ninian Cup Winners

The opening game of the Barry Amateurs career was at home at Jenner Park with Cardiff Corries Reserves the visitors, the Amateurs making a good impression by winning 4-2. The Amateurs then inflicted the first home defeat suffered by West View of Rudry in three seasons. Merthyr Town ‘A’ was dispatched 3-0 at Jenner Park in the Welsh Amateur Cup. Cardiff Corries Reserves inflicted the club’s first defeat of the season when it was noted that the Reserves side featured more first team players than Reserves, but the Amateurs would not lose another in all competitions until the February 1931 when Cardiff City ‘A’ beat them narrowly at Jenner Park, 1-0.

By now the strike partnership of Cliff Baggott and Reg Westall had truly blossomed, netting around 50 goals between them. By the end of the season Baggott had bagged 46 goals and Westall 39 – mostly scored with his head from corner kicks – which also included 14 hat-tricks for the pair.

The Barry Amateurs reached its first cup final when Ton Pentre were defeated 4-2 in the South Wales Junior Cup Semi Final on 21 March, 1931. The South Wales Junior Cup Final was a 3-3 draw with Treorchy Juniors, a match by all accounts that should have been over by half-time. The Replay, in front of over 2,000 at Treorchy saw the Amateurs defeated 4-2 on 25 April 1931. Despite this disappointment, Cardiff City ‘A’ were beaten 4-2 at Ninian Park in the Lord Ninian Stuart Cup Final, and the Cardiff & District League title was wrapped up with a victory over Cardiff Wheatsheafs on 2 May 1931.

The Barry Amateurs had ended its first season as double winners, and were reported as being ‘the wonder team from Barry’ and the Cardiff football press were speculating that Barry Amateurs looked set to become the official ‘second eleven’ of Barry Town.

Barry Amateurs AFC 1930-31

Barry Amateurs AFC 1930-31 with the Lord Ninian Stuart Cup, and the Cardiff & District League shield and medals. Ernie Carless is in the front row. (Photo courtesy of Alan Blainey)

The 1931-32 season : The emergence of Barry Town ‘A’, and a second Cardiff & District League title, and Cardiff City Supporters’ Cup winners

However, despite this terrific opening season, and the rumours that the Amateurs were to become the Barry Town representative team in the Cardiff League, this was blown out of the water when Barry Town announced the formation of an all-new Barry Town ‘A’ team to play out of Jenner Park. The Barry Amateurs at first announced a new pitch in the east end of the town, but then opted for ‘a field at the rear of the Barry Sanitorium’ and that the Amateurs would not be charging an entrance fee. Even that wouldn’t last, as the club would eventually play out of the Buttrills to the north of the town.

It was also announced that the secretary and manager of the new Barry Town ‘A’ team would be non-other than W.H. Gardiner, the Secretary of the Barry & District League, and the new team would play in the Barry & District League as well as the Cardiff & District League. One can only speculate at to this turn of events and this apparent snub of the Barry Amateurs which had swept all before them in their first season.

Quite why such talent as Cliff Baggott and Reg Westall were never selected for Barry Town is another mystery. It’s important to note, however, that a large section of the Amateurs did eventually play for the Barry Town senior team, and in the case of Ernie Carless, would enter the Barry Town Hall of Fame for his services to the club in 2012.

With the Barry Amateurs frozen out of Jenner Park, and scratching a living on various sub-standard pitches around the edges of Barry, crowds remained in the mid to high hundreds for home matches. Of course, with a new Barry Town ‘A’ forming for the 1931-32 season, the matches between Barry Amateurs and Town’s ‘A’ side were going to be interesting affairs.

There was indeed great interest in this very local of local derbies and the first meeting at the Sanitorium Field ended in an easy 4-1 victory for the Amateurs, with Ernie Carless, somewhat ironically (Carless is a Barry Town Hall of Famer), on the scoresheet for the Amateurs. It was the first defeat Barry Town ‘A’ had suffered that season. The Jenner Park fixture also went the way of Barry Amateurs when the Town ‘A’ were defeated 5-2 in a game reportedly ‘marred by a display of ill-feeling’. Anstey, the Amateurs right-back given his marching orders.

The clubs also met in the South Wales Junior Cup, ending 2-0 to the Barry Amateurs, and met at Ninian Park in the final of the Cardiff City Supporters’ Cup where Barry Town ‘A’ were again no match for the now experienced Barry Amateurs who had just secured a back-to-back Cardiff League title. The Amateurs romped home 4-1.

In a repeat of the final of the previous season, the Amateurs and Treorchy Juniors met in the 3rd Round of the South Wales Junior Cup and a crowd of over 4,000 saw Treorchy defeat the Amateurs in a tight replay. With another ‘double’ under their belts, the Barry Amateurs must have looked toward the new season with renewed optimism on the pitch, but must have wondered what they were going to do off it. With no other decent facilities in the town for an up and coming club, making any kind of profit was always going to prove difficult.

The 1932-33 season : The final season

In an extremely poorly reported season, the Barry Amateurs were rocked by the departure of goal-ace Cliff Baggott who had signed for Drumcondra FC in the Irish League, before briefly joining Merthyr Town, and then settling down at Aberaman. An early season home victory over Cardiff City ‘A’ papered over the cracks. They had only drawn their opening game against Porth, and then lost Cardiff Wheatsheaf Recreation, but were really humiliated by Caroline Juniors (Blaenrhondda), of the Upper Rhondda League Division 2, in a Gold Medals Competition where the Amateurs lost 3-1. For a club that had suffered just 4 losses in 77 matches in 2 seasons, back to back losses against lower opposition was not what the club was about.

More points were lost against Cardiff Fairoak and Cadoxton Athletic, before a fifth victory in 5 attempts over Barry Town ‘A’ came in the ASRS Cup at Jenner Park. This was followed by the sixth and final match between the two sides in the Cardiff League, again at Jenner Park, which went the way of the Barry Amateurs 2-0. Reports of matches in the second half of the season are patchy at best, and despite the clubs announcement that it would do all it could to fulfil fixtures finally resigned from the League in March 1933. A commitment to honour cup matches also fell flat as the Amateurs lost to Cadoxton in an ASRS Cup Semi Final at Jenner PArk, and then lost to Barrians in a Barry Cup Semi Final Replay, in front of 600 supporters at the Buttrills, and this was the last game the Amateurs would ever play.

The Barry Amateurs had come from nowhere to dominate local league football at the start of the 1930s, and vanished as soon as they had arrived. Their lasting legacy though was the introduction of many future Barry Town players such as Harry Bayliss, Ernie Carless, Reg Tolchard, and Josh James to name just a few.

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