GLADIATORS a tale from the end of the last millennium

The site of the Roman fortress is where the Coliseum of Penydarren Park now stands. Many gladiators have graced this magnificent monument that was subsequently reconstructed for a battle with a European legion from the land of Julius Caesar.
There are numerous tales told of the great gladiators and their generals who have graced the Emperors colours of black and white. The battles fought on the sacred turf of Penydarren Park have led to many spoils of war by the eleven gladiators that have been selected to represent our great legions.
There were times when the Emperor was good, innovative, gentle, wise and most of all a great leader of men. Most people knew that the poor folk called supporters were the lifeblood of the kingdom that surrounded the sacred turf of the Coliseum, without whom nothing would exist, but very few listened to their wisdom, and very few still do.
Sometimes the Emperor was unwise, being short sighted and only looking for his own glorification and after his own interests. He would rule with an iron fist and no one else would be allowed an opinion.
The legions have seen many fallow years when battles have been lost when they should have been won. Gladiators have been of poor quality and even poor in battle. But sometimes there were periods of celebration, generally after the Emperor has found a new soothsayer, who has also found a new general for his gladiators, men of astute knowledge, with qualities of leadership that far surpass that possessed by mere mortal men like you or I.
Then one day during a dark period there came a man with a ghostly silver mane. A wise and cunning soothsayer, who gathered around him gladiators of the highest quality and a General that organised everything. The silver haired soothsayer made the Martyrs a team of repute, a team feared throughout the land and eventually even on foreign battlefields. He delved deep into the magic realms, fighting many a battle with the powers at the Coliseum, arguing his case for what he thought would make the Martyrs a great side once again. Both the poor folk and the rich people of the kingdom flocked to the Coliseum to witness the wondrous deeds that their gladiators performed, climbing up into the top battlefield of the Conference.
After years of poverty, working together the soothsayer and the Emperor who implemented his own fiscal policies, reaped many rewards for the Martyrs that initially led to great success. But there was resentment with the awe in which the soothsayer was held by the poor folk and he was eventually replaced, this came about with great sadness and had a profound long-term effect. Then during time of famine the poor folk eventually drove the Emperor out of the Coliseum, and as the years went by each Emperor tried to discover ways of making the kingdom safe for eternity.
Many are the celebrations that this great volume of verse has previously re-counted, bountiful were the good times for the poor folk, bright was the clear blue sky above and the future looked virtuous. But then my friends the hardship of reality was upon us as once again as times began to change.
So great were the powers of the silver haired soothsayer, that some thought of him as an alchemist (certainly some of his gladiators possessed magical powers), that he returned to the Coliseum and battled on but times went from bad to worse. The power of the soothsayer began to wane, the poor folk began to moan and whinge (so nothing different there than) and a bitter and twisted power struggle for control of the Coliseum nearly brought the realm to its knees and his downfall was due to political intrigue.
But another great soothsayer came from across Offa’s Dyke and tried his best on two separate occasions to restore success to the Coliseum but he experienced problems with the two Emperors who squabbled over the kingdom and he to fell by the wayside.
In the last two calendar periods, soothsayers have arrived from the Vale of Ebbw, the capital of the Kingdom, a disciple from the PFA and one again from the wrong side of Offa’s Dyke. But the poor folk who visit the Coliseum have witnessed only gladiators that have battled against a tide of poor performances. The Martyrs who were once great and proud face humiliation and journeys along Fosse Way and Watling Street to the wilderness long since erased from the memories of the dark distant past.
Fear not though, keen supporter, whether we all be poor folk, for one day soon another great soothsayer will rise up backed by the wise and benevolent Emperor who will emulate and exceed those feats of yesteryear. I pray that this is so.
Predicting the future is extremely difficult but by gazing into your crystal ball you may see a gladiator before you now, even though he may not be wearing the true colours of black and white, who will lead the Martyrs through many glorious battles. But there are very few certainties in this life and we can have no right to succeed. This will only be achieved through hard work and honest endeavour.
With the dawn of the new millennium the responsibility for maintaining the success of the gladiatorial amphitheatre is ours. A word of warning to you all. Unless we bring to our Coliseum that has witnessed such joy and misery, that knows all of the hymns of your fathers and your father’s fathers, our sons and daughters and their sons and daughters week after week to enjoy the spectacle laid before us, the dynasty will die.
It is people like you that are the ones that really count. It is your memories of the Coliseum that is the encouragement for the future. It is the hymns of past and future battles, the tears of joy and sorrow, the tales of yesteryear upon which the foundations of our great club are based. Its tradition is its life and you are its blood.
Emperors and soothsayers will come and go, but through the families of our community we will ensure that the crest of the Martyr of Tydfil will survive throughout the next millennium.
This I know to be the truth.


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