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photo: Grassroots Groundswell

Luke Owain Boult speaks to Barry Town United’s manager Gavin Chesterfield about securing their return to the Welsh Premier League after the team was withdrawn from the Welsh Football League in 2013.

How did it feel when Barry Town United returned to the Welsh Premier League?

Elation mixed with relief, I suppose. It’s been a long old road that’s involved a lot of work for a lot of people. We’ve had to overcome some very difficult moments off the field and credit to the players, they’ve given our supporters something to shout about on the field. This mix has kept everyone motivated and driven. Promotion to the WPL was something that everyone in the club had a hand in and something that everyone can be proud of.
What’s the secret behind the success?

Hard work, togetherness and a desire to improve. In any organisation, you need leaders; thankfully we have a few in this area, but you also need followers and we are truly fortunate to have a great group of hard-working and committed people to make what is now a very big club – 600 playing members – work.
What’s the reaction been like from fans?

Amazing! You have to understand that for many years our supporters knew nothing apart from success. Some would say that supporting a team that’s successful every year is easy, but for me you find out a lot about your supporters when the years are lean. As such, for our supporters to stick with us through everything says a lot about their love for their club. We’ve lived this entire journey together and we go to the WPL as one.
How did you first get involved in the sport?

As with most young children, I loved sport at a very young age and my first introduction to football came from my dad. I was kicking a ball and dribbling around the garden from a very young age and first played a real game at five years old. From then until now, I’ve only had six months where I’ve not been involved in football.
How did you get involved with Barry Town United?

I responded to a job advert. I saw that they were looking for a manager and as a young, 26-year-old manager, I really wanted the responsibility of managing a club like Barry. It was a club that I’d played against – I knew about its history and I thought it was a great challenge at the right time. I wasn’t offered the job first time around and came second in the interview process – however, the appointed manager didn’t take up the opportunity and a week later I was offered the role.

What can be done to better promote support of the Welsh Premier League in Wales?

I think the league is very fortunate to have television coverage both in a weekly highlights show and weekly ‘live’ game through Sgorio on S4C. The league has a great working relationship with S4C and Rondo Media, and this works very well in promoting the league. It’s also pleasing to see the BBC start to provide additional coverage, although I would like to see more.

Clubs in the WPL do more than people might appreciate for their local areas, both in terms of added revenue and tourism but also in terms of added exposure. The European qualification available through the league means that towns and cities in Wales are being broadcast on a global scale and this can only be good for Wales. Personally, I’d like to see more investment.
What was your personal highlight from last season?

Walking out for the last game of the season and being given a guard of honour by our opponents, and indeed several hundred of our junior players lining the perimeter of the pitch, to clap the players and staff onto the field. It really hit home to me what the club is about – experiencing that was a real highlight.
Are there any interesting bits of trivia about the club people may not be aware of? 

I’m sure our club historians are better placed to answer this, but for me… Barry Town was one of the first clubs to trial ‘floodlit football’. Secondly, it was one of the early exponents of the European transfer market.


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