The Barry Town Hall of Fame : William ‘Billy’ Jennings

Barry Town Hall of Fame Inductee, Class of 2014; Billy Jennings

Barry Town Hall of Fame Inductee, Class of 2014; Billy Jennings (all images here are courtesy of the Jennings family and should not be recreated without prior permission)

When Billy Jennings was called up to the Welsh squad for the first time, a civic reception was held in his honour in Barry.

28 February 1914 at Celtic Park (Parkhead), Glasgow

SCOTLAND 0-0 WALES
Wales: Ted Peers (Wolverhampton W), Thomas J Hewitt (S Liverpool), William Jennings (Bolton Wanderers), Thomas J Matthias (Wrexham), Lloyd Davies (Northampton T), Joseph T Jones (Stoke), Billy Meredith (Manchester Utd), George A Wynn (Manchester C), Walter O Davis (Millwall Ath), William ‘Lot’ Jones (Manchester C), Jack Evans (Cardiff C)

Referee H H Taylor (England)

Attendance 10,000

16 March 1914 at Ninian Park, Cardiff

WALES 0-2 ENGLAND
Wales: Ted Peers (Wolverhampton W), Thomas J Hewitt (S Liverpool), Moses Russell (Merthyr T), Thomas J Matthias (Wrexham), Lloyd Davies (Northampton T), William Jennings (Bolton Wanderers), Billy Meredith (Manchester Utd), George A Wynn (Manchester C), Stan Rowlands (Tranmere Rovers), William C Davies (Crystal Palace), Ted Vizard (Bolton Wanderers)

Referee James Mason (England)

Attendance 17,586

(Welsh international stats courtesy of the Welsh Football Data Archive)

Barry Dock News
Friday 20 March 1914

INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALLER HONOURED

Presentation to Mr W. Jennings at Barry

Barry footballers – the West End section in particular – met at the Co-Operative Hall, Barry, on Tuesday evening last, to celebrate the selection in the Welsh Association team which met England last Monday, of Mr W. Jennings, of Bolton Wanderers, who is the first Barry boy to gain senior international honours. It was a happy and convivial gathering, and during the evening Mr Jennings was made the recipient of a gold albert and pendant and sovereign case.

Mr. W. Jennings, who has just attained his majority, received his education at Romilly Road, under Mr. R. T. Evans. He had always displayed the essentials of a good footballer, and it was in 1907 that he was honoured by being chosen to represent his country against the English boys at Walsall. As time wore on, he captained the Romilly Old Boys and Barry Bethel Baptists, and frequently assisted the Barry West End. He joined the Bolton Wanderers in August, 1912, and in February of this year gained his first international cap against Scotland at Glasgow.

Mr R. A. Lewis made a presentation to Mr. Jennings, and in the course of his remarks gave the gathering an interesting account of how Vizard and Jennings joined the Bolton Wanderers Club. A few years ago, Mr. Lewis went on, Vizard signed an amateur form for Aston Villa, but was not called upon. The nest season (while playing for the Barry District AFC) he offered his services to Cardiff City for 30/- a week. Two of their directors informed Vizard that he should be ashamed of himself for asking such an amount – they could get “first class” players for that figure (Laughter).

However, Mr. Lewis recommended him to the Bolton directors, who at once realised that they had a good man. Then, again, the speaker was so impressed with the play of Jennings when at Barry, that he wrote to Bolton, and as Vizard had been such a success they readily included Jennings in the team. “If there had been a professional side at Barry,” Mr. Lewis added, “I should not have recommended them anywhere else, for it is the duty of every Barryite to do his best for local sport.” (Applause)

In handing the gift to Mr. Jennings, he made reference to his qualifications and capabilities as a footballer. Barryites, he added, were proud of the recipient. (Cheers.)

Mr. Jennings made a modest and brief response, which was much applauded.

On the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the first Barry football player to be called up by the Football Association of Wales to represent his country, Billy Jennings is duly Inducted into the Barry Town Hall of Fame.

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AT LAST! At last Barry beat Merthyr. At last Barry are in the FA Cup.

Ian Love opens the scoring against Merthyr in the FA Cup, 1984

Ian Love opens the scoring against Merthyr in the FA Cup, 1984

Ian Love scores the opening goal in Barry Town’s famous win over age-old rivals, Merthyr Tydfil.

It wasn’t simply your regular Barry v Merthyr grudge match, oh no.

The one thing Barry rarely did, ever, was do well in the FA Cup. The club had no famous Rhyl-esque sequence of appearances in the world famous competition, and a good FA Cup run came roughly every 20 years or so. The 1984-85 season would be one of those times. It would be the final time. For Barry, it would be the biggest match seen at Jenner Park since the Linnets entertained QPR in the FA Cup some 22 years previously.

Barry and Merthyr had met in an FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round the previous season, and lost. When Barry got past Forest Green Rovers 3-2 in the opening qualifying round in the following season, they took Mangotsfield to a 2nd Qualifying Round Replay on October 3rd, 1984. Goals from Ashley Griffiths and Ian Love in the Replay gave Barry an excellent 3rd Qualifying Round tie against Gloucester City on October 13. Gloucester were beaten 3-1 with a penalty from Derek Redwood, and goals from Phil McNeil and Bobby Smith.

Barry Town had reached the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round, so often the club’s stumbling block. Only 4 times had the club got past this point in the competition. The reward? An exciting but tough away draw to Penydarren Park and perennial Merthyr Tydfil. When the clubs met on October 27 there was a 1-1 stalemate at Penydarren, the Barry goal scored by Steve Williams, in front of a crowd of 1,591.

The nervy 4th Qualifying Round Replay at Jenner Park just 4 days later, on Halloween of all days, also ended 1-1. Steve Williams again the Barry scorer that Wednesday afternoon. Yes, Wednesday afternoon, and 1,623 supporters either threw a sickie, or like me, mitched off school. Incredibly, the club had Welsh Cup commitments on the following Saturday, so the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round Second Replay had to be played on November 5 – Bonfire Night – actually, it was a Monday afternoon.

In front of a crowd of 1,666 at Jenner Park, Barry Town ran out 3-2 winners over their old rivals with goals from Ian Love (pictured above), Phil Green, and the winning goal from defender Mike Cosslett to send the home supporters in utter delirium and the club into the FA Cup 1st Round Proper.

Barry Town’s opponents in the FA Cup would be Division Three Reading. Almost 4,000 supporters crammed into the ground to watch the match, and it would be the biggest crowd seen at Jenner Park until Barry Town played Aberdeen in a UEFA Cup 1st Round 2nd Leg fixture some 12 years later in a hugely altered Jenner Park.

The picture below was purchased recently, and handwritten on the back was: “AT LAST! Barry beat Merthyr in the FA Cup, 1984.

Barry Town celebrate after their FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round win over Merthyr

Barry Town celebrate after their FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round win over Merthyr sends them into the FA Cup 1st Round Proper for the first time in over 20 years – and the final time.