As announced on Barry Town United's Twitter, skipper James Saddler has left the club after over 250 appearances; making his debut in a 1-1 draw away to Aberaman Athletic. Saddler became a fan favourite for The Dragons, with his first goal coming in Barry colours against Goytre United, starting the trend of his "annual goal" that Barry Town fans associate with him. During the club's infamous near fatal season in 2013, Saddler remained loyal; which was rightfully recognised by the club. Saddler was given captaincy in the club's first season in the Welsh Division Three for a number of years despite only turning twenty one in January of that year. Three consecutive league titles later and Barry Town were once more a JD Welsh Premier League side, thanks in no part to the leadership of Saddler. In addition, the 26 year old led Barry Town out for the MG Cup final, where they narrowly lost out to JD WPL champions TNS.
Saddler has decided to leave Barry Town this summer feeling he had achieved his ambitions from five years ago- leading Barry Town back to the top flight- whilst also looking for new challenges elsewhere. Manager Gavin Chesterfield, who gave Saddler the captaincy back in 2013, had this to say about the departure of his skipper;
“Sads has been a fantastic servant to the club over the past 8 seasons and I personally can’t thank him enough for how he stood by us and lead the squad during some of our most difficult times.
He’s achieved so much at the club leading the lads to three championships and a return to the JD Welsh Premier League.
It was clear following my conversations with James that he felt he had achieved what he set out to do when he became captain back in 2013 and that now a fresh challenge was right for him moving forward. After 8 years with us this will naturally be tough for him but he goes with my blessing and sincere thanks for all his hard work and dedication.“
James also gave some final words to the fans and everyone associated with Barry Town; "When I signed for Barry in 2010, I was attracted by the club infrastructure, the history and Gav's vision to return to the WPL.
Despite very publicised knock backs, that have actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise, I've been lucky enough to be part of a very successful Barry team that has won WL Division 3, Division 2 & Division 1 before a competitive first season back in the WPL. Other highlights include reaching the Welsh Cup semi-final and finishing runners up in the MG Cup.
The club as a whole continues to go from strength to strength and I have no doubt that progress will continue to be made both on and off the pitch.
It's been a privilege to be a part of the Barry Town story, especially my role as captain over the past 5 seasons, and seeing the rapid development of the club.
Despite the very difficult decision to leave, I'm happy to see that the club is now back where it belongs competing at the top level in Wales.
I'd like to thank all of the fans, players, staff & volunteers for all of the support they've given me during my time at the club. I will look back with great pride and wish everyone involved with the club all the very best in the future”