Former Cardiff City and Barry Town manager Eddie May was ‘a legend’

Former Cardiff City and Barry Town manager Eddie May was ‘a legend’

By Sharon Harris

FRIENDS and football fans have paid tribute to former Cardiff City manager and Barry Town FC boss Eddie May, following his death on Saturday (April 14).

The 68-year-old Barry resident managed the Bluebirds for almost four years with the club winning the Division Three title in the 1992/93 season and adding the Welsh Cup to the trophy cabinet.

Eddie had recently moved to Barry to live, and before that had been a long-time regular visitor to Marco’s Café on Barry Island, where he was always happy to talk football with fellow customers.

In a long career, he had also managed Torquay United, Newport County, Porthcawl Town and Brentford and Highlanders in Zimbabwe, and also had spells in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and South Africa.

Defender May made 300 playing appearances for Wrexham after joining them from Southend, and enjoyed spells with Dagenham and Chicago Sting and Swansea City during a 13-year career.

He left Wrexham to join Swansea in 1976 and finished his playing career at the Vetch before moving into coaching.

He retired in 2010.

Friend, neighbour and former work colleague Paul Compton paid tribute to the man he had known for 17 years – after ‘almost coming to blows’ during their first meeting.

The 50-year-old, of Pencoedtre Village in Barry, first encountered Eddie when he was the Cardiff City boss, and Paul was in charge of Torquay United.

Paul heard Eddie swearing about actions on the field, and said: “I told him ‘you are out of order; and we had to be parted.”

Paul was relieved of his managerial position six months later and returned to youth coaching, but then May was appointed Torquay’s manager and asked him to his office the next day.

Paul said: “I thought I’d be looking for another job, but he had the biggest grin in the world and said ‘I’m not going to give you the sack!'”

He became May’s assistant – and firm friend.

“I just can’t believe he is gone, he was an amazing man,” said Paul.

“He had a presence and would fill a room. There will be a big void in our lives.

“He gave a lot of people a lot of pleasure. I will miss him and will always be privileged to say that he was my friend.”

Nino Zeraschi, manager of Marco’s café, and Rhys Lloyd, from Barry’s West End, said May had been their ‘childhood hero’ – and the reason they became ‘true Bluebirds’.

Nino, who knew him for five years, said they met at Boofy’s chip shop and Eddie had made him feel welcome straight away – going on to become a frequent customer.

He even invited Eddie and partner Marlene to his wedding, not thinking they would turn up – but the couple armed themselves with pen and paper and occupied the children.

“My childhood hero ended up being a babysitter at my wedding!” said Nino, who helps coach youngsters at Holton Academy, and was given lots of tips by Eddie.

“He liked telling football stories and he saw I liked listening.

“He would speak to anyone, and if anyone approached him, he would give them time – that’s why he was a legend at Cardiff City.”

Rhys Lloyd added: “He put Cardiff City back on the map of Welsh football.

“He loved the fans and the club. The term legend is overused, but he will go down as a Cardiff City legend.”

Barry Town Supporters’ Committee, playing management, and playing staff this week sent their heartfelt condolences to the friends and family of the club’s former manager.

Jason Pawlin, speaking on behalf of the committee, said: “Eddie May was a hugely popular character in Welsh football and made close friends wherever he went.

“He was in charge of the Cardiff City side that was unexpectedly beaten by Barry Town in the Welsh Cup Final in 1994, and that experience no doubt helped him form the opinion that he would like to
manage the club one day – and we are thankful that he did.

“Barry Town is greatly saddened to hear of Eddie’s death and the team will be showing its respect to him at the last match of the season at Bridgend on Saturday.”

Cardiff City will pay tribute to May before their home game against Leeds, also on Saturday.

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