David ‘Tich’ Evans was an excellent young football player who burst onto the scene playing for Hannah Street School (now Jenner Park School), for Cadoxton Old Boys in the Cardiff & District League, and ultimately for Barry Town. It was possibly during the ASRS Cup, when Cadoxton Old Boys defeated the all-conquering Barry ‘A’ side in the Final, that Tich Evans first came into focus with the directors at Jenner Park. At some point soon after, he was snapped up by the Linnets. Unfortunately, his Barry career almost entirely spanned the club’s War-time friendlies during the First World War, so details of him playing in the green and white of the Linnets are scant.
Despite the lack of competitive football due to the suspension of league football at the end of the 1914-15 season, ‘Tich Evans’ was on the Barry books for at least three seasons as his reputation grew. The first report for him playing for Barry was in the Barry Dock News report that had him scoring on September 9, 1916 at Jenner Park when Barry played the Glamorgan Royal Engineers (who were based on Barry Island at the time). The result was 5-0, and although the Barry & District News lists the scorers as Fred ‘Nunc’ Sheldon (4) and Ernie Webb, the Barry Dock News has the scorers listed as ‘Nunc’ Sheldon (3), Billy Price, and ‘Tich’ Evans.
A couple of weeks later ‘Tich’ Evans scored all three in a 3-0 victory over Mid Rhondda United and a further goal came against the Cardiff Albions in a 12-0 rout at Jenner Park. Needless to say, he’d made his mark. He’d also score against the likes of Swansea, Cardiff City and Newport County. Barry did play some competitive football during this season, and the club won its first senior silverware in the South Wales Senior Cup at the end of the 1916-17 season (6-1 vs. Abertillery).
As the depravity of the War worsened, so the irrelevance of football became more obvious. If the previous war years had seen football used to rally the folks back home, the following season saw even this relief from the news from the continent lesson. The 1917-18 ‘season’. if you can call it that, simply amounted to four home and away friendlies with Cardiff City during Christmas 1917 and May 1918. In a Christmas Day match at Jenner Park, Barry beat Cardiff City 6-4 in a game where player-manager Syd Beaumont scored four, E.Howells got one and so did ‘Tich Evans. The Boxing Day match at Ninian Park, and the May friendlies all ended 0-0, 1-1, and 2-2 respectively.
On Easter Monday in March of 1918, Swansea took on a team from the Royal Flying Corps at the Vetch Field, and the starting XI was:
Fisher; Hewitt (captain), Lieut. Percy Jones; Pinch (Preston), Ball (Barry), H.Crockett (Barry); Beare (Cardiff), Leopold, Weir, Brown and ‘Tich’ Evans (Barry). The referee was Harry Bamlett, manager of Oldham Athletic, and the referee for the 1914 FA Cup Final between Liverpool and Burnley.
No competitive football was scheduled for the 1918-19 season, but even before the Armistice was signed the Barry club announced they were ready to start back up once again and announced a second half of the season full of top class friendlies, beginning with Cardiff City on January 11, 1919.
The Barry line-up for that match was:
W.Bowen; F.Sheldon, H.Beresford, H.Crockett, R.John, D.Evans, E.Howells, H.Woodward, Hogan, W.Price, J.Griffiths & P.Hughes.
Other friendlies would include Newport County, Swansea Town, Ebbw Vale, Pontypridd, Llanelly, LLanbradach, Abertillery, and various XI’s of demobbed soldiers and sailors.
The March 8, 1919, meeting with Swansea Town was to prove a fateful one.
The 3-3 draw at the Vetch included ‘Tich’ Evans in the Barry line-up and he had evidently greatly impressed the Swansea board. Considering the Barry side that day also included Bob John, the future Arsenal and Wales star, Evans was undoubtedly a rival star in the making.
‘Tich’ Evans’ last recorded goal for Barry came, yet again, against Cardiff City in a 3-1 victory at Jenner Park in March 1919, although he was still representing his home-town club come April 1919. During the summer, however, on the dawn of the 1919-20 season, Barry announced that they had sold Evans for £100 (around £10,000 in today’s money).
There was a bit of a stink in the local press after it was announced that Evans was to be permanently transferred to Swansea. Evans was so popular, even his wedding earlier in the summer had made the local papers. At the time the Barry board were saying ‘We received £100 from Swansea for him. We’re not getting that from anywhere else.”
Unfortunately, the ‘Tich’ Evans story is ultimately a tragic one. His bride of 10 months had died during childbirth, and from that point onward no doubt inconsolable by this, Tich took his own life, with a blade, in the grandstand at the Vetch. The Barry Herald ran a story on the news, and some 95 years later it makes for some gruesome reading.
Friday, January 2, 1920
SUICIDE OF ‘TICH’ EVANS
AFFECTED BY EXTREME GRIEF
A sensational discovery was made at Swansea on Thursday afternoon the week before last.
‘Tich’ Evans, one of the principal players in the Swansea Town Association team, was found on the Vetch Field with his throat cut, his head being almost severed from his body with a razor tightly grasped in his right hand.
It is stated that he had been depressed owing to the recent death of his wife. He was a native of Cadoxton-Barry and was one of the most popular players in the team. He was son of Mr and Mrs Evans, 21 Fairford-street, Cadoxton-Barry, who are exceedingly well known and respected in that district.
He commenced his football career quite early in life, having played for Hannah-street School and in later years for Cadoxton Old Boys. He then came under the notice of the Barry directors, and for about five seasons played on the left wing for the Seasiders, where he always played a great game.
It was, whilst in Barry, employed as a boilermaker at the Barry Graving Dock. In July last he married a Cadoxton girl named Miss Fannie Hawkins, who died a fortnight ago.
This is the fourth death Mr and Mrs Evans have sustained in the past two years, one being their other son Willie, who was killed while serving in the Navy.
Until this season ‘Tich’ had been on the list of the Barry Club, and although Barry secured £100 for his transfer, Swansea has been offered by Tottenham Hotspur four figures to release him.
After some investigation, Tich’s brother was William W. Evans, son of Thomas and Anne Evans of Barry, and Willie was serving as a Royal Navy Reserve (6830/S) on the HMS Ganges, a training ship based at Shotley. Willie Evans died on 15 July 1918, aged 22, from ‘illness’. The HMS Ganges suffered an outbreak of influenza and then diphtheria in 1918 and so it’s likely that Willie died during this outbreak.
We remember William Evans with Honour, as a casualty of the War.The local newspapers in Swansea also expressed the extreme grief that had been caused by the shocking fate of their young starlet. The reporter stated that at a previous training session on the Vetch, he was standing next to the Swansea manager, Mr. Watts, and how he remarked that ‘Tich’ was ‘not the same man’. Writing in the Cambria Daily Leader he continued;
“Little did we dream that the diminutive winger was undergoing such great stress, with its distressing sequel. It is indeed a heavy blow to the Swansea Town Club, one that is irrepairable, and all the more unfortunate.”
As is known only too well known, the deceased played outside left in the Swansea Town premier team, and never was there a more successful player for this position. Indeed it is true that ‘Tich’ had a brilliant football career before him…
…Wherever the Swans journeyed ‘Tich’ always earned a high name for himself, and prominence had been given to the statement that this season he would have been ‘capped’ for Wales. This popularity with the Swansea football crowd was as great as could possibly be, for he was one of the most – if not the most – successful signatures the Swans had obtained.”
Dreadfully, it was another of Swansea’s players who discovered the body. Completing Thursday training at the Vetch, in which Evans did not take part but chose to watch from the grandstand by himself, Swansea team-mate Jack Nicholas saw that somebody was laying down in the stand, almost out of sight, when he went to get goal for the players ‘quarters’. On approaching the person, Nicholas soon realised that it was Tich Evans and the police and a doctor were immediately called. Due to the severity of the injury, the doctor pronounced death at the scene, and the Swansea players and officials were rocked by the news.
Further recalling the details of the death and of his career, the Cambria Daily News stated
One cannot help expressing the view that the blow is the heaviest that could possibly be delivered upon the Swansea Town Club. It is, indeed, a great pity, for ‘Tich’ was without shadow of a doubt the most promising footballer in Wales.
Instead of becoming one of the stars of Barry Town, or Swansea and Welsh football in general, Tich Evans was destined to become largely forgotten and reduced to simply being the man behind the story of the ‘curse’ at the Vetch, and further belittled by the visit of Uri Geller of all people in more recent times. Hopefully, in some small way, I’ve brought the REAL ‘Tich’ Evans story to football lovers and given the man some of the respect he undoubtedly deserves.
By Jason Pawlin
(Adapted from my original blog entry from 2011)
Today, floodlights are a common feature at almost all League and non-League venues. This was not always the case. Indeed in the country’s footballing past, such innovations were distinctly frowned upon and even banned at one stage by the English Football League.
A few experiments using lights had sporadically occurred, with Rhyl’s electric lights giving them the honour of the first club in Wales to use the system in the 1890s.
Barry Town though were nothing less than creative, and in the 1949-50 season the Town decided to engage in its own series of experimental floodlit games. This was a full 38 years before the club installed its first permanent banks of lights at the ground in March 1987.
The background to this, true to form, was a lack of money and the fans and club’s directors embarked on a “Save Jenner Park” campaign. The club needed to raise £1,500 to pay for the up-coming five year lease of Jenner Park and us usual were stoney broke, despite large infusions of money from the Supporters’ Club.
This was a sizeable sum to find and with the fund already at the £1,000 mark, Town arranged a series of four friendlies during the course of the season to help swell the coffers.
When I started watching the Town at a dilapidated Jenner Park, I can distinctly remember circular and unused lamps located in the eaves of the stand with one or two even sinking back into the old sleeper backed terraces which flanked the stand. They looked like searchlights from the war, which is pretty much what they were, and from an historical perspective, they were part of the original lights used for the friendlies and soon discarded later.
Alas, they are long gone, but fortunately our local papers of the time still carry the reports of the day from these ground-breaking friendlies.
Newport County were the first team to play at a wet and windy Jenner under lights on Monday November 21st 1949, winning the game 3-1. But what was the experience like ?
Well, firstly the teams needed and were granted permission for the friendly by the Welsh FA. Then there were the lights themselves and the array used was pretty mixed. The running lights around the greyhound track were called into use and were supplemented by the aforementioned wartime spotlights and gas-lights (!) all of which were temporarily erected around the ground.
There were many shadows in the middle of the pitch but these barely handicapped the players of both teams who adapted to the new conditions by adopting a short passing game in favour of their favoured long-ball tactics. Our scribe known as Mac, was indeed pleasantly surprised by this mode of play and the generally high standard of football seen.
The linesmen used white flags to help viewing and a novel white ball was used too (brown being the de rigeur colour of the day), though these were whitewashed and needed cleaning every 10 minutes!
County fielded two of its English League XI (Depear and Shergold), the remaining players being from its Welsh League team and were deserved victors.
Players were occasionally blinded by the lights adding to the fun as the goalkeepers were deceived by the flight of the ball under lights of differing strength and height. Barry’s Gwyn Rayson became the first Town player to score under floodlights, but the Linnets’ lead was short-lived as County ran out 3-1 winners with goals from Orphan(2) and Staples.The final friendly under lights took place with the visit of old rivals Merthyr, considerably stronger than Town in those days, on March 13th. The Martyrs winning one-nil.Most importantly, the crowd of 2500 raised £200 towards the fund and most spectators went home happy with their night-time football entertainment.
The Barry team that night, managed by Major Harry Blondell, was: Howells: Williams, Kelly: Mason, Brown, Rayson; Lewis, Dodds, Jones, McLaren and Cain.
Buoyed by the experiment’s initial success, Barry next hosted a youthful Cardiff City team on February 27th in front of another healthy crowd for a friendly of 3,000.
A fast and entertaining game saw the Bluebirds beaten 4-2 with Barry’s young Scottish Centre Forward Tom Ballantyne scoring a hat-trick. Ballantyne an airman stationed at RAF St Athan, was joined on the score sheet by Trevor Edwards, a regular in the club’s Welsh League team that season.
The lights, it was reported, were of a superior quality to those used for the Newport game but there were still some dark areas near the goal areas.
A week later, on March 6th, Swansea sent a team to Jenner park to experience the novelty of playing under lights.
Interestingly, Town abandoned their usual green shirts for “neat Blue Shirts” while Swansea played in what looked like a deep shade of orange, all of which added to the spectacle.
The lights wrote “Bee” were a revelation in contrast to the two previous games. In addition the goalposts were painted in a luminous colour to aid viewers, better still a new set of ten 1000 watt lights had been installed , and our writer described the lights as “reaching perfection and covering every inch of the pitch.”
Swansea won the game 1-0 through a goal from Andrews, but the fans’ experience, all 2400 of them, was much enhanced by the improvements to the lighting. Better still receipts from the game had helped the club pass its £1500 target.
So ended a hugely successful experiment, with Town using lights long-before its main rivals of the day (Merthyr, Llanelly, Newport, Swansea and Cardiff), but a lack of belief from the chaps running the game in Britain, saw the system fall into disuse. Indeed it was with more than little irony that Barry Town were forced to exit the Southern League due to the club not having full floodlights and joined the Welsh League exclusively. The club that had introduced floodlights into south Wales were forced to leave the league because they no longer had them.
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.
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.
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.