Billy Jennings, Ted Vizard & the Bolton team

Billy Jennings was born in Barry, played local football in Barry, got selected to play in the first Schools International in 1907 versus England, signed for Bolton Wanderers, represented Wales, won some FA Cups, and later became Barry Town’s first home-grown manager.

Getty have recently allowed the likes of this blog to use their images without a watermark, or requiring permission. So, with thanks to Getty, here are some relevant images to football in Barry.

There’s more on all this here

William “Billy” Jennnings

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Edward T. “Ted” Vizard
Born in Cogan, Ted Vizard was playing for Barry District AFC when he signed for Bolton Wanderers. Also an FA Cup winner, and Wales international.

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Bolton Wanderers, 1920
Jennings is standing in front of Vizard, who’s looking to the side.

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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

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: 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


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.

The tragedy of ‘Tich’ Evans – the most promising player in Wales

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.

Barry Herald
Friday, January 2, 1920

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.

David 'Tich' Evans

David ‘Tich’ Evans

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)

TG Blainey : Barry’s ‘Knight of the Whistle’ and SWFA rep

Thomas Gibbs Bailey

Thomas Gibbs Blainey

Thomas Gibbs Blainey was born in Barry in 1899, and later lived in Evelyn Street, Barry Dock. In many respects ‘TG’ was at the heart of the game in Barry, being a referee, an official with the local league, secretary of a local football club, officiating international fixtures, Councillor, Chairman and Vice President of the regional Football Association, and a graphic designer. The man had passion.

The first record we have of TG officiating is for a Barry & District League Division Two fixture between Atlantic Mills Seconds vs Penarth Wesleyans in October 1921. The original Barry & District League started in 1907 but folded after several years. After the War, local football types were determined to make another go of it, and it’s the Barry & District AFL that began in 1920-21 that was the forerunner to today’s Vale of Glamorgan League.

By the 1923-24 season TG had become Chairman of the Barry & District League, while still officiating games on the weekends. At the time, the League was based at the YMCA building at Newlands Street, Barry Dock. The Chairman of the YMCA was one A.C. Morrish, another local football personality, and someone who also served on the committee of the Barry & District League.

TG became a Councillor in the local FA, the South Wales & Monmouthshire Football Association before the start of the 1924-25 season, and remained a referee when he moved up to become Vice President of the Barry & District League in 1926-27, as well as being part of the Referee’s Selection Committee. He was on hand to present Cardiff Fairoak with the Barry Dockers’ Cup at Jenner Park following their 2-0 victory over Llantwit Major.

By 1928-29 TG was now acting as a Councillor in the Football Association of Wales, and on 27 October 1928 had the honour of running the line for the Scotland v Wales international fixture at Ibrox. One of the faces in the Wales line-up that day was one TG would have recognised; Robert ‘Bob’ John who had come up through the ranks in local football in Barry. Bob John had played for Barry Town, before moving to Caerphilly (which is a story in itself!), and then later earned himself Hall of Fame status at the Arsenal.

Scotland v Wales programme, 1928

TG Blainey officiated in several international matches. Here is his name on the matchday programme for the Scotland v Wales match from 1928.

The 40th AGM of the South Wales & Monmouthshire FA was held in Cardiff in July 1930, and TG Blainey was presented with a medallion to commemorate his year of office as Chairman of the SW&MFA, and at the same meeting he was subsequently elected as one of the six vice-presidents of the Association, polling the highest number of votes out of nine candidates.

The Barry Herald newspaper ran a report on the meeting:

Presentation to Barry sportsman

The 40th annual meeting of the South Wales and Monmouthshire Football Association was held at the Grand Hotel, Cardiff, on Saturday, and was attended by hundreds of delegates representing clubs from all over an area including Monmouthshire and that part of Wales south of a straight line drawn from Cardigan to Hereford. Among the members of the Barry League present were Messrs. L.A. Lewis, Phil Squires, and T.G. Blainey (Barry League Committee).

Mr. P.T. Sockett (Newport) was then called upon to perform a very interesting ceremony. He presented Mr. T.G. Blainey, Evelyn Street, Barry, with a medallion to commemorate his year of office as chairman of the Association Council. He said that Mr Blainey had earned honours in the field of play, as a “knight of the whistle,” and also in the realm of legislation. He had been in the forefront as a referee, and had earned his legislature spurs with the Barry and District League. Seven years ago he entered as a member of the Association, and 12 months later was called upon to make a momentous decision, when it was decided that referees should not be allowed to legislate. Mr. Blainey, however, had served the whistle well, and he decided to give up refeering in favour of Association work. Since then he had listened to many cases and refereed well and truly from the chair. He had carried out his onerous duties in a very able manner, and had won a large host of friends.

Mr. Blainey, responding, thanked those present for their kind support at previous meetings, and he was proud to say that he had been chairman during such a critical year – the year of economy. They had come through successfully, and notwithstanding industrial depression and general slackness of trade, he believed they would keep their heads above water. Although there had been disputes during the season, and keen divisions had been experienced on certain matters, he thought they had ended up friends at the close. He found, however, that the challenge was never to the chair, and he had been treated most fairly.

Subsequently Mr. Blainey was elected as one of the six vice-presidents of the Association, polling the highest number of votes out of nine candidates. He obtained 181 votes, a majority of 12 over the next candidate.

Mr. Blainey, who was first elected to the Association in the 1923-24 season, has served continuously since that date. He was nominated by the Cardiff Saturday League, Barry Dock Wesleyans and Barry Juniors.

Prior to the meeting, TG had organised a Barry & District League XI to tour the West Country. Although League XI’s had been around since the creation of the League itself – occasioanlly playing Barry Town in a Christmas friendly – this is the first instance I have found of the representative XI going on a tour. They did very well, and obviously put the League in a positive light. Whether TG had an idea under his cap already, or whether the tour resulted in his idea I guess we’ll never know, but come the summer of 1930 around the time of his election as Vice President of the SW&MFA he was proudly promoting a new venture in local football. He had put together a team of the best local league talent and called the club Barry Amateurs AFC. He declared that the club would wear white shirts, with a red ‘BA’ badge, black shorts and white and black socks.

I was fortunate enough to have had some correspondence with Alan Blainey, the grandson of TG, and he had in his collection TG’s original hand sketched idea for the Barry Amateurs club badge he had described to the local press. And amazingly, here it is.

Barry Amateurs badge

TG Blainey’s badge design for the Barry Amateurs AFC

The creation, dominance and death of the Barry Amateurs is a blog entry in itself, so there won’t be too much depth here, but between 1930-31 and 1931-32 pretty much dominated amateur football in south Wales. The club became something of a nursery to Barry Town – indeed, in its first season it was based at Jenner Park – and many a star came through the ranks of the Barry Amateurs.

For the rest of the 1930s, up until the War, TG continued to serve as Vice President of the SW&MFA and was still handing out cups at Jenner Park-based Finals. Following the War, the secretary of the Barry & District League, WH Gardiner, although not naming TG by name, critised the creation of the Barry Amateurs AFC some 20 years previously. It had threatened the survival of the league itself, he argued. Barry Town Historian, Jeff McInery, had done a bit of sleuthing around this fact a couple of years ago, and found something intriguing. It appears that when TG Blainey and WH Gardiner were serving on the Barry & District League, Blainey had stopped a player from playing football under a technicality. That player was Alec (or Alan) Watts. Jeff found out that Alec was WH Gardiner’s nephew and this spat could have seriously compromised the working relationship between the two.

When TG formed the Barry Amateurs, they were advertised as acting as back-up to Barry’s Southern League and Welsh League squads, and in instances, this was true. Their home ground was Jenner Park, and everything appeared fine until the following season when they were given the cold shoulder by Barry Town and were not granted further use of the Jenner Park pitch. TG and the Amateurs were out. In its place came a new Barry Town ‘A’ team – the club’s first foray into the local league. The club secretary for this new venture? WH Gardiner.

Gardiner appears to have held a grudge against TG and his Barry Amateurs because of the situation with his nephew, as well as the fact that the Amateurs acted as a Barry League XI, but actually played in the rival Cardiff & District League. This, as far as Gardiner was concerned, was a huge snub. The Barry Town ‘A’ joined both the Barry League and the Cardiff League.

Homeless, and without a ground to bring in proper income, the Barry Amateurs faded away at the end of the 1932-33 season, failing to complete it, but TG continued his work for the SW&MFA until the outbreak of the War. By now, TG had moved with his wife to Cardiff, where he remained until his death in 1977, aged 78.

Jason Pawlin

(With thanks to Alan Blainey and Jeff McInery. All photographs courtesy of Alan Blainey)

It’s May, 1982

In many ways it was a sad time for the football club, the end of the 1981-82 season. An already difficult season was turned almost apocalyptic for fans by the news that the bosses of the club had decided that a re-jigged Southern League (the top teams in the Midland Division and Southern Division would create a new Premier Division) was not for them, and Barry Town – the longest serving club left in the Southern League – was pulling out, sighting financial difficulties and new ground criteria required for the new Premier Division. The first team would be replacing the Reserves in the Welsh League, and that was that. There was uproar among the fanbase.

When is there not uproar among the fanbase?

Regardless, in April of the 1981-82 season the club won 6 of their remaining 9 matches, and with further points at home over Corby Town on May 1st – presumably when this photograph was taken – it ensured the 9th place finish that would have seen us placed in the new Southern League Premier Division. Destiny decreed – or at least, Neil O’Halloran – that The Linnets would be better served playing in Wales. Besides, we still had the FA Cup to play for…

As for Alan Harrington, who had previously made a name for himself as a player at Cardiff City, as well as clocking up 11 international caps for Wales, he presumably decided he didn’t like the FA Cup. At the beginning of the 1982-83 season, the club had an important FA Cup Preliminary Round match at Jenner Park against old rivals Haverfordwest County. Harrington not only failed to turn up, he failed to say why he failed to turn up and was promptly sacked.

Apparently, Harrington is now in his early 80s and residing in leafy Penarth, just outside Cardiff. I must try and track him down.

Alan Harrington and Barry officials pose for Harrington receiving his Manager of the Month Award

Town Manager, Alan Harrington, is awarded Manager of the Month for April 1982.

Alan Harrington and players

Alan Harrington is lifted into the air by his Barry Town squad as he celebrates being Southern League Manager of the Month for April 1982.