Tired and Weary - 2000

With growing financial problems, dwindling crowds and an alarming lack of interest, is it time for one of the remaining members of the original "irate eight" to cut their losses, admit they were wrong and return "home" with their tail between their legs?
At approximately 9.10 pm on February 16th 2000, Andy Morrell slotted home his seventh and Wrexham's eighth goal of the evening to round off a miserable and totally unjustifiably embarrassing night for Merthyr Tydfil Football Club and their dwindling band of supporters. I say evening but could easily have said season. I could have taken a broader view and said the last five years or so. The stark truth is that there is a strong possibility that our team could be playing Western Division football next year. From what I've seen this season we are certainly not too good to go down.
There should be no excuses for what happened at the Racecourse Ground. The result was just a culmination of the mis-management and general apathy that has dogged the club for the latter part of the last decade. The club has side stepped from one catastrophe to another. From threats of closure to relegation. Despite the new ownership at the club, (who in fairness have not had sufficient time to right the wrongs at the club), we could well find ourselves back in the same position footballing wise that we were thirteen years ago. Paget Rangers away anyone?
I remember an Alun Evans article in the Western Mail some years ago stating that economically, Merthyr would eventually be forced to join the League of Wales. It seems that he could be right after all.
The fact is that we have not progressed at all in the last decade. Penydarren Park is almost identical to what it was in 1987. The team is far, far worse than it has been since the early 80's and our support back to the rock bottom hard core of 600. The atmosphere on match days is non-existent. No matter what happens in the near future, whether we win the FA Trophy, promotion to the Conference followed by the League or whether we get relegated to the Western Division, we will find ourselves back here. Merthyr, whilst playing in the English pyramid will always be a Dr. Martens league team.
Merthyr is a Dr. Martens town. Just like Crawley or Atherstone, or Salisbury or Worcester. Anyone who thinks different is surely an eternal optimist. Recent attendance figures for the Conference show record levels of support, the average being 1,600. If you look at the top teams that figure can be doubled. I for one find it very difficult to see a Merthyr team sustain that kind of support for any sort of timescale.
In my opinion, and I know that many Merthyr fans will strongly disagree, there is only one place that we belong; the League of Wales. The time has come for all Welsh clubs to break free from their involvement in English football which has been holding us back for years while the rest of Europe moves on. Imagine a Welsh Premier League (perhaps similar to that in Ireland) with say, (in no particular order) Cardiff, Swansea, Wrexham, Newport, Merthyr, Barry, Cwmbran, Bangor, Aberystwyth, Llanelli etc. Local rivalry. Total media interest in Wales. Media interest from the rest of Europe as a National League. European football every few years. I don't believe for a moment that our crowds wouldn't increase by at least 50% for a home game against any of the above teams, maybe even 150% if we're doing well.
Furthermore, there is a more profound reason for supporting the League of Wales. It would mean us being part of a broader more cosmopolitan European scene, helping to create a style and image of our own. The fact that we are too closely involved with the English game is thwarting football in Wales. Over the last few decades the national team has done very well to even come as close as we have to qualifying for a major tournament. Many people say that we do very well for a small nation. True. But there are countries of a similar size to Wales who do even better. Norway or Denmark. Every other country in the world has a proper national league and it's time to choose which side we are on.


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