One of Wales’ most iconic stadiums was months away from being closed-down for good.
In 2015, Jenner Park had become unsustainable for the Vale of Glamorgan to maintain and proud club Barry Town United were on the brink of starting the search for a new ground.
But part of the ambitious club’s vision to return to its former glory was a FIFA pro accredited artificial 3G surface that would help them become a real community club.
In the 16 months that have followed the grand opening by national team manager Chris Coleman, the club’s playing membership has rocketed from 125 to 600.
First team manager Gavin Chesterfield said: “Now it’s about much more than the male section. We have a thriving women and girls section, a pan-disability section, a club based system from U5 to U16 and an academy that goes from U10 to a development team.
“Having those sorts of numbers, it is doable with a grass surface. But to give them a stadium that they can all train and play on, isn't possible.”
FAW Trust CEO Neil Ward said: "This is another excellent example of how collaboration with the Welsh Rugby Union, Hockey Wales and Sport Wales is delivering more artificial turf pitches."
David Lewis coaches the club’s U9 team and says the children love learning and playing in a stadium environment.
He said: “This facility is exactly what we needed. All of the kids are here every Saturday morning, there’s never anybody missing.”
But when the Vale Council spent a six-figure sum on bringing the dilapidated Jenner Park into the 21st century, they were looking way beyond the former Welsh Premier League champions. They wanted a sporting hub that the whole community could enjoy.
Gino Esposito runs the successful women’s section at United. He said: “This isn’t just something for Barry Town United, it's for the whole community.
“We've had clubs from all over the Vale booking slots for training and games here. That’s great to see.”
The post Euro 2016 buzz has seen football thrive in Wales’ biggest town and Chesterfield has praised the local authority for further investments in football facilities this year.
He said: “There was a lot of apprehension at the start, which I can partially understand, but I'm hoping those doubters have now been turned.
“Credit to the Vale of Glamorgan Council, they've just started a new development up at the Colcot Sports Centre, with four five-aside pitches and two seven-aside pitches going up.
“The demand is there and now the kids are able to play football, whereas previously they were getting cancelled all the time and were unable to play key fixtures.”