Welsh Football Weekly: Swansea City's stroll to League Cup glory over brave Bradford on Sunday, it was said, secured the club their “first major trophy” since they were founded a little over 100 years ago.
Everyone, from the mainstream media to Swansea City’s official website and the Twitter account of Wales’s First Minister Carwyn Jones, was united in saying as much.
Everyone that is, apart from long-time Welsh football watchers, who have correctly pointed out that Swansea have won one of the world’s oldest cup competitions, the Welsh Cup, on no less than 10 occasions.
The row has blown up just days before this season’s Welsh Cup enters its quarter-final stage and one of the groups mounting a vociferous defence of the Welsh Cup have been Barry Town supporters.
More than 100 of them will make the four-hour journey to north Wales for what’s set to be a tense tie against Flint Town.
The game represents something of a revival in fortunes for Barry who are lingering in the second tier of Welsh football after dominating the Welsh Premier League for a decade between 1993 and 2003.
Town often surpassed the achievements of Welsh clubs playing in the English pyramid and flew the flag for Wales in Europe, even defeating the giants of FC Porto in the second leg of a 2001 Champions League qualifying tie.
An all too familiar financial crisis has since seen the team tumble down the leagues, but as Ashley Cox of the supporters club tells the Morning Star: “The Welsh Cup has revitalised Barry Town over the last two seasons and the history of the competition is second to none.”
After the chairman Stuart Lovering abdicated his responsibility for funding the football team, Cox has been one of a handful of loyal supporters who have stepped in to produce what they’ve labelled “DIY football.”
“For the fans, winning Saturday’s game would be a tremendous reward after a decade of some pretty dark days. We’re in it together, and we’ll give it our absolute best,” Cox adds.
They’ll be cheering on a talented team of amateur players — including top-scoring striker TJ Nagi — who have achieved steady progress on the pitch despite being paid nothing for their significant efforts.
And manager Gavin Chesterfield, who was officially “sacked” by Lovering in December, has earned hero status for keeping the team together in some very testing times.
His side are one of eight top Welsh clubs who are fighting it out to join Swansea City in next season’s Uefa Europa League by winning the Welsh Cup.
“Barry Town vs Swansea City in the Europa League would certainly raise a few eyebrows,” muses Cox.
But drawing on the vast reserves of self-deprecating humour that have sustained him through Barry’s wilderness years, he adds: “As it stands, we would happily settle for a friendly!”
Cox and his long-suffering comrades are clear that the future of the club won’t be determined by Saturday’s result.
But there’s no doubt, standing behind a goal in Flint’s windswept open ground, those fans will once again feel all the anxiety and excitement that make up the “magic” of any “major trophy” for fans around the world.
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