With the Welsh Premier League fixture list set to be announced on Friday, June 23, Barry Town United have been finalising their squad for what will be their first top flight season in 14 years.
Last week, the club announced the signing of former Southampton forward Kayne McLaggon, the 26-year old agreeing a two-year deal to return to his hometown club, more than a decade after leaving to join the Saints’ prolific youth set-up.
A former under-17 and under-19 Wales international, Kayne returns home to Barry from Evostik Southern Premier League outfit Merthyr Town, where he spent four successful seasons.
McLaggon said: “I’d like to thank the players, staff and supporters at Merthyr for the past four years, we have shared some great memories together.
“However, the opportunity to play for my hometown club in their first year back in our country’s national league was too good an offer to turn down. Gavin and the club have a vision and as a Barry boy, I am excited to be a part of it.”
“Kayne is an experienced player who adds much quality to our already talented squad,” added manager Gavin Chesterfield. “He is a player I have wanted to work with for some time and I am delighted to finally have him with us.”
The addition of McLaggon bolsters an impressive Barry first team squad, the Welsh League Division One champions’ chances enhanced by two other summer signings.
A quick and skilful winger, 19-year-old Sam Jones arrives from Cambrian & Clydach Vale, where he developed his skills across an eight-year stint in their successful academy.
A Wales under-18 international call-up, Jones recently represented Cambrian in the 2017 FAW Youth Cup final against Swansea City at the Cardiff City Stadium, after scoring all four goals in a 4-3 extra-time win over Bangor City earlier in the tournament.
Chesterfield commented: “I’m delighted to welcome Sam to the club, he is a young winger who has received much interest and impressed many in the Welsh League this season.
“I’m looking forward to Sam joining up with the squad and helping him fulfil his potential. Personal thanks to manager Craig Hughes and all at Cambrian who have been extremely supportive.”
Jones meanwhile added: “Firstly I’d like to say a big thank you to all at Cambrian for their guidance and support, I’m very proud of all we have achieved together and will remember my time fondly.
“I’m delighted to be joining Barry Town United at such an exciting time, I can’t wait to join up with Gavin and the players in July and prepare for our Welsh Premier League challenge.”
In addition, the club has recruited combative central midfielder Clayton Green from Evostik Premier League side Frome Town, a player that brings a host of experience from his time in the English system, where he also represented the likes of Paulton Rovers and Evesham.
A former captain of the University of South Wales men’s football team, Clayton has represented both Welsh Universities and British Universities in international fixtures and is the son of former Barry man Phil Green, a player who netted 70 goals for the club between 1979 and 1986 and was a key part of the club’s FA Cup run in 1984-85, scoring in the marathon fourth qualifying round win over Merthyr at Jenner Park.
Speaking on the signing, Chesterfield revealed: “Clayton is a player who I know well from my role at the University of South Wales and I’m delighted to confirm his signing. Having worked with him, I know his qualities and feel that he will bring added quality and experience to our squad, both on and off the field of play.
“Through our discussions, I know he’s excited by the challenge of the WPL and I feel that we are very good fit for one another.”
Green added: “I’m really pleased to be joining Barry, it’s a big club with quality players throughout the squad, and was an easy decision for me following discussions with Gavin. We have a big season ahead and I’m looking forward to getting started!”
After securing the Division One title for the first time since 1994, Barry fans will be delighted to learn that a dozen of last season’s players have already committed to the upcoming campaign.
Among their number, goalkeeper Mike Lewis, who was named the supporters’ player of the year at the club’s recent awards night and forward Drew Fahiya, who won the goal of the season prize for his remarkable long-range effort against Briton Ferry at Jenner Park.
Joining them in the Welsh Premier League, strikers TJ Nagi, Jordan Cotterill, James Dixon and Tyrrell Webbe, midfielders James Saddler, Louis Gerrard and Troy Greening and defenders Luke Cooper, Chris Hugh, Curtis Watkins, Callum Saint and Paul Morgan have all put pen to paper.
Perhaps the most important signature of all though was made at the awards event, as manager Chesterfield inked a contract that will extend his time at Barry by at least a further two years.
Chesterfield, who remarkably arrived at Jenner Park some 10 years ago this week, has guided the club to four promotions, a Welsh Cup semi-final and a Nathaniel MG Cup final, as well as securing championship honours in Welsh League Division One, Two and Three.
Awarded for his efforts at the aforementioned event, Chesterfield has already set his sights on the next challenge, with the build-up to Welsh Premier League football beginning on July 25.
That evening, former Barry player Mike Flynn will bring his Newport County side to Jenner Park for an attractive pre-season friendly, fresh off masterminding the club’s EFL survival.
The Exiles, who escaped relegation on the season’s final day, are expected to field a full-strength side against Barry, in a tantalising warm-up for the Town’s Welsh Premier League campaign - ticket information is set to be announced shortly.