And we won? 2004
Working on a Saturday. Deadlines to be met. Texts coming through on the mobile from the lads, excited, it’s one of the highlights of the season. Twerpton Park and Bath City await. Frantic phone calls ensue. Favours are called in. Work sorted. Released. Sprint down to Cardiff Central. Leap from toe to toe as I work my way slowly through the ticket barriers, platform 6 for the Valleys, yeah I know. First train to Radyr? Treherbert. A Rhondda train, should I risk it? I push through the Primark bag laden shoppers and secure a seat. I’m on my way. The train pulls into Cardiff Queen Street as I try to recall the last time we won at Twerpton, now my memory isn’t the best when it comes to the Martyrs, in fact I can’t remember the last time we won at PP, but it must be a few years ago but why does the trip appeal to so many of us? I think it’s because Twerpton Park seems like a big ground, there’s an away end in which to pretend that we’re still a major force in non-league football, their clubhouse has improved of late and there’s the Old Crown down the road for a couple of scoops and a tidy jukey. Now to our younger element reading this article, this may shock, but Bath City could be argued to be our real derby match. It is to me. Newport just doesn’t cut the mustard for this salad lover. I’m woken from my reverie by the realization that Radyr is approaching, there’s a few Tory voters getting to their feet and sure enough I’m soon diving into a waiting car ready for the second leg of the journey. It’s half past one and The Brown Baron’s motor is moving swiftly to the Border. Sit back and relax. There’s nothing better than traveling to a Merthyr away game, the sense of anticipation increasing in proportion to how near you’re getting to the ground, this has nothing to do with the reality of the current form of the team, you know that you always travel in hope otherwise what are you doing with your time? Its not for the view. The M4 never fails to bore the sense out of me. Look what its done to Hulby Marulby over the years, a man on the brink of a Oxford education brought to his knees by years of following the Martyrs on the road. There’s a growing unease in the car as we near Bath, nobody wants to break the silence but once again we’re lost in Bath city centre, it must be the uniformity of the stonework on the houses, it’s like a very well commercialized maze, we eventually stumble across the river, and are en route to Twerpton. It’s five to three as we tumble out of the car. Straight up to the away end where there’s a dozen or so Merthyr fans being advised by the dozen or so stewards that the turnstiles are down at the other end of the ground, we roll down the car park, attracting more Merthyr fans as we go, it’s gone kick-off and we’re still outside as Hulby and Moppy are in a state of shock at having to pay £7.50 to watch the Martyrs. I call for strong tea off one of the half-dozen or so stewards and quickly our two parsimonious heroes have negotiated the cash transfer. In the ground, no segregation, and the Merthyr support is spread out. Once again, I’m impressed with the loyalty of my fellow devotees, close on one hundred have traveled down to Bath. As for the team, well we look good in our new second strip, good choice. It must be a commercial success too. It’s pretty obvious that we’re facing one of the worst teams ever to represent Bath City, the Martyrs seem comfortable without really threatening the Bath diminutive goalkeeper, both Cortez and Mikey Regan are causing their defence enough problems with their tireless running into the channels. Gary Thorne is once again mastering anything launched into our penalty area and anything else is being safely handled by Thommo. To be honest, it’s no surprise when we score. A Danny Carter corner is headed home by Cortez to spark varied celebrations around the ground. The Supporters Club lads are bouncing around the terraces whilst those of us in the seats prefer a genteel golf-clap and “three cheers for Cortez”. It’s cold. Time for food. Now getting fed at Twerpton hasn’t always been a great experience, who can forget the famous frisbee burgers from one match over the festive period a few years ago? There’s a few of those burgers being used as beer mats in the Park View. Things have changed, one “straight” burger later and I’m happy. Now for drink. Just before half-time and it’s down to the bottom gate again to meet the dozen or so stewards to get a “pass out” for the club. Walking up the car park. Roar from inside ground. Rob Parker waving hands in air, either we’ve scored or Doug Ellis has resigned. Mikey Regan. 2-0. Half-time. Perhaps we’ll get a draw. I really must stop getting cynical. It’s that self defence mechanism in all Merthyr fans kicking into place whenever things start to go well. Wingnut gets the round in. The bar is already mobbed by fellow explorers from the Valleys, some of whom don’t seem to have watched the first half yet, class! Flat lager. Nothing changes there then. Stare at the pint a lot. Eventually peer pressure forces me to down the golden liquid in two and head back to the entertainment. Second half was dire. It was now seriously cold. Behind the goals, those of a more mature generation reminisced on away trips of yesteryear whilst the more energetic of our support sang monotonous songs of no significance. There’s nothing to report. Danny Carter fired wide. We looked comfortable at the back. In short it was the most boring 2-0 win ever but it would be truculent to complain. Three points in the bag. We win at Bath City. A great win considering all the rumours in the fortnight leading up to the game, we’d beaten the bottom two sides in consecutive matches and had re-joined the battle at the bottom of the Conference “promotion” race. Hulby’s on night shift so it’s straight back in the motor, and apart from a panic at the Servern Bridge when our hairless friend refuses to chip in for the toll, it’s a contented assembly of Merthyr supporters that is greeted by the new landmark of the neon Tesco sign dominating the Pearl of the Valleys’ skyline. Good to be home, even better after a win.