WELSH PREMIER FOOTBALL

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Gary Lloyd
Gary Lloyd holds the all-time appearance record at Barry Town.

SO far, Gary Lloyd lies third on the list of all-time Welsh Premier appearances and, for a long time, held the record for European appearances by a player in the domestic league - 29 - until being eclipsed by TNS duo Phil Baker and Scott Ruscoe.
But for a spell with Dr Martens League outfit Newport County, he could well be challenging Colin Reynolds (Caersws) for the number one spot in the league.
Swansea-born Gary grew up in Llanelli and at 16 attended weekly training sessions at the Vetch Field.
However, when he left school it was not to join the Swans but to work in a local meat factory and play for Llanelli's youth team. He graduated to the seniors and stayed for six years before the new managerial team of John Lewis and Paul Giles signed him for Barry Town in time to make his debut in a League of Wales game against Ebbw Vale on Boxing Day 1994.
Although Lewis and Giles soon departed, Gary stayed and eventually became a full-time professional at Jenner Park.
In seven of his eight full seasons at Barry he helped the side to the League of Wales title - in the remaining season they were a close second to TNS.
This might seem boring and predictable, but that is certainly not Gary's perspective. "I had great times at Barry and what made it special was the experience of playing in Europe.
"I played in some fabulous ties, the best of which was probably against Aberdeen in the UEFA Cup. We played them away first and Dean Windass gave them an early lead but Richard Jones soon equalised with a great shot from 25 yards.
"We eventually lost 3-1 but Dave O'Gorman scored after five minutes of the return game and it was 'game on' again. Even after Billy Dodds hit two for Aberdeen, we still made a game of it with a penalty from Darren Ryan and a goal from Tony Bird to make it 5-4 on aggregate but they scored a last minute goal to draw 3-3 on the night."
Lloyd also played in the Barry team that beat Portuguese giants FC Porto 1-0 at Jenner Park - sadly the result in Portugal had already put the tie beyond them - and he played in successful ties against Latvians FC Dinaberg and Budapest of Hungary.
His form for Barry also brought him international recognition and he captained the Welsh semi-pro side and was called up for the full national squad.
"There was a rumour that a League of Wales player was in line for international recognition but I had no idea what was going on when Gary Barnett, who was then Barry manager, called me into his office and asked me to speak to Bobby Gould on the phone.
"He said he was pleased to tell me I was in his squad to travel to Belgium and though I did not play it was a great experience."
Lloyd was also a regular target for English League managers and was on the brink of agreeing a move to Swansea when Alan Cork was sacked. He had trials at Reading and Walsall, while Crewe Alexandra manager Dario Gradi offered him an 18-month contract at the First Division club.
"Believe it or not I turned him down," said Gary. "The money on offer was not the best and I decided against because it would have meant selling my home and moving. I am not sorry because I made my decision and thought it was right."
After the financial problems at Barry in 2003, Lloyd found himself at Newport County, but he returned to the Welsh Premier in 2004/5 to join Mark Jones at Carmarthen Town, becoming the second player to clock up 400 league appearances when he appeared against Cardiff Grange Quins on 10 December 2005.
This was followed by a move back to Llanelli in February 2006.
[With acknowledgement to Ray Jones, www.newport-county.co.uk]

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29 March 2017

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