A lovely spring afternoon on Sunday, April 23 saw a good crowd at Jenner Park for the Supporter’s Cup final against SP Billy.
The historic cup being played for the 70th consecutive season in local league football. Having already dispatched league high flyers Sully Sports and Barry Belgrade in earlier rounds Barry Athletic came into the final full of confidence.
Wearing the famous green of Cadoxton Albion, Athletic aimed to duplicate their founders success in this particular cup.
Before changing their name to Barry Athletic in 1975, Albion won the cup no less than nine times in 14 seasons between 1947 and 1960!
Captain, Spencer Price led his team by example. A first half penalty was awarded after a foul on Dan Morgan. Price took responsibility and dispatched with ease to send Athletic in 1-0 at half-time.
Athletic knew their opposition would tire second half so the message was to keep possession. Only eight minutes after the break, striker Dan Morgan met a cross with his head and calmly cushioned the ball past the stranded keeper.
Athletic now went into cruise control and continued to pass the football around the large pitch, SP Billy’s defence were now camped on the edge of their penalty area and Athletic had to work hard to create goal scoring opportunities.
Eventually, in the 73rd Ben Graham produced a bit of individual brilliance to make it 3-0.
This seemed to trigger SP Billy into a fight. They reshuffled their pack and all of a sudden the Athletic’s defence were having to work hard.
A stunning 25 yard strike from Lee Carter on 85 minutes and another effort hitting the post gave the Billy a glimmer of hope but it wasn’t to be their day.
Spencer Price lifted the cup for the Athletic and the celebrations went on long into the night.
Pictured are the Barry Athletic squad - Back row, Matt Venton (coach), Emlyn Samad (coach), Jeff Howells (manager), Ben Graham, Izaac Farrag, Chris Simpson, Dan Morgan, Lewis Marsh, Ben Pearce, Leigh Vick, Travell Konten, Eddie Roe, Frank Roe.
Front row, Ryan Hales, Billy Gratton, Linford Harris, Mark Kingdon, Spencer Price, Ady Gratton, Loucas Achilleos, David Budd. Mascots - Benjamin Venton and Robbie Gratton.
The Athletic went into the last game of the season knowing a win would clinch the league title.
With rivals, Barry Belgrade, ahead of them in the league table having finished their season the game had high stakes.
A large crowd gathered at Bryn Y Don to see who would become the Division 1 champions.
Opponents Cadoxton Barry rightfully fielded a strong team to ensure Athletic had to earn the right to the title. Cadoxton’s experience saw them control the game for long periods in the first half, Athletic’s nerves were showing as they struggled to string together any passages of play.
An injury saw Cadoxton bring on Ricky Sansom in the 35th minute, within minutes Sansom found himself alone in the Athletic box and fired home with precision to send Athletic in at half-time 1-0 down.
Athletic’s coaching team remained confident during the half-time team talk. They sent the squad back out with the emphasis on Cadoxton tiring and Athletic making the most of any chances that came their way.
Just five minutes in and the game had turned on its head, Athletic were now dominating all over the pitch, determined that the season’s hard work would be rewarded in the next 45 minutes.
Chance after chance came and went but just as the nerves were starting to creep back in Dan Morgan produced a pin point cross for Ben Graham to expertly volley the ball into the roof of the Cadoxton net.
The equaliser seemed to drain all life from the opposition. Apart from the occasional long ball to relieve the pressure, Athletic were now camped in the Cadoxton half.
It was in the 70th minute that top goalscorer for the past two seasons, Dan Morgan, bagged the league-winning goal after good work from Linford Harris down the right wing.
The goal sent the Athletic supporters, coaching staff and committee wild on the sidelines knowing that the league and cup double was as good as won.
The final 20 minutes saw Athletic’s pressure continue. Numerous chances came and went with Cadoxton offering little in reply.
Unfortunately, Athletic couldn’t add to their tally despite a couple of efforts thrashing the woodwork. Referee Graham Harris blew the final whistle, Cadoxton players respectfully offered their congratulations.
Club chairman and player Ady Gratton was given the honour of lifting the shield by coach, Jeff Howells.
This was Gratton’s first league win in 26 seasons of playing senior league football. A fitting end to a remarkable season for all involved. Athletic march on.
The club’s senior section would like to dedicate it’s double success to the memory of club president, Mr Brian Heathfield, who sadly passed away in November.