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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 12:59 GMT 13:59 UK
Barry's Azeri wonderland
Barry Town boss Peter Nicholas with Shamkir chairman
Barry Town boss Peter Nicholas with Shamkir chairman
By BBC Online's Chloe Arnold in Baku, Azerbaijan

The Lancaster Gate pub in downtown Baku rocked as Welsh side Barry Town celebrated their 1-0 win over Azeri league winners Shamkir in the European Champions League qualifier.

"I can't believe we did it," beamed one of the team's two supporters, who had flown out to Azerbaijan to see the match.

He wore a blue and yellow pantomime dame dress - Barry Town's colours - carefully sewn for him by his mother-in-law and a yellow wig.


When the Shamkir fans caught sight of the Barry Town supporter in his blue and yellow dress, they just stared at him open-mouthed

Hours before, some 10,000 fans had made their way to the Tofiq Bakhramov Stadium, named after one of the most famous Azeris in history.

When England scored the winning goal against Germany in the 1966 World Cup, it was Bakhramov, one of the linesman, who allowed Geoff Hurst's controversial goal.

Rumour has it in Azerbaijan that as a way of thanking Bakhramov, Queen Elizabeth sent him a whistle made of solid gold.

Most of the fans at Wednesday's game were Azeri.

But Barry Town's two supporters were joined by some of the expats in Azerbaijan, most of whom work in the oil business: Azerbaijan sits on the Caspian Sea, which is said to harbour one of the biggest oil reserves in the world.

Terrace chants

Crowd control at Azeri football matches is not one of their strong points. A snaking line of police officers, some smoking their favourite Shirvan cigarettes, stood about 100 yards from the stadium.

Anyone without a ticket, or without the strength to push through, was stopped.

Fifty yards further on there was another line, and yet another outside the stadium itself.

At the start of the match the stadium was just over half full, but by half-time it had filled up almost entirely.

Most of the police came and sat in the empty seats or along the terraces so that they, too, could watch the game.

Support from the crowd is limited to cheering and clapping and waving the Azeri flag, although one fan brought his drum to the game to liven up the game.

When British supporters started singing the usual terrace chants, the Azeris just looked on admiringly.

And when they caught sight of the Barry Town supporter in his blue and yellow dress, they just stared at him open-mouthed.

For all the support they get, the Azeri national team never does very well on the world stage.

The last time they won an international game was in 1999 against Liechenstein.

But, as one Azeri fan told me sadly, "It was only against Liechtenstein. And we lost the next game 4-0 against Romania."

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