Football: From Barry to the World Cup

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The Independent Online
Pub quiz masters are licking their lips. On 11 October, 1997, the League of Wales match Barry Town v Porthmadog was postponed because of...

The answer to the perfect tie-breaker would be yesterday's elevation of Garry Lloyd to the heights of international football.

Barry could be forgiven for calling off the game after losing such a key player as the 25-year-old left-back to World Cup duty with injury- hit Wales, but as they have a five-point lead at the top of the table and Porthmadog are next to bottom, it is unlikely.

Lloyd is being hailed as the first non-League player since the Second World War to be selected for the full Wales squad. However, some in the principality would argue that the League of Wales deserves to be rated on a par with the Football League.

Bobby Gould's new dragon thinks so. "People might knock the League of Wales as being a Mickey Mouse affair," Lloyd said. "I believe Barry are as good as any of the three League clubs in Wales. We are full-time, so we are as fit. Only one or two players, like me, haven't played League football."

Nonetheless, Lloyd thought it was a joke when told that he would be rubbing shoulders with Ryan Giggs against Belgium. "I'm amazed, stunned," he said. "I've watched all these great players on TV; now I'm going to be training with them."

The former meat factory worker, who has sampled Uefa Cup and European Cup football with Barry, is likened to Newcastle's Stuart Pearce by Gould, the Wales manager. He will need Pearce's robustness in Brussels on Saturday just to deal with the crowd. The King Baudouin Stadium will be packed but, when Lloyd ran out for Barry at Cemaes Ynys Mon last Saturday, the crowd was... 192.