Dial M For Merthyr Tours Coming Soon!

The Tourist Trap

Dial M for Merthyr is happy to finally release the news that Historical Tours around Merthyr will begin in the close season (no, not annually in October) so from May onwards tourists will be able to discover the hidden relationship between Merthyr Tydfil Football Club and its immediate surroundings. Tours will start from the famous "Dai Martin" Gates at Penydarren Park with a designated guide allocated to each group, training in spin & propaganda has been undertaken by Dial M for Merthyr volunteers and already we have an expert at hand to guide the innocent visitors around our fair borough, unfortunately his name is Hulby but no matter the size of the party they'll be able to hear his wise words as they wander the avenues and boulevards of the Pearl of the Valleys, in fact they'll be able to follow the script in Thomastown with a decent westerly breeze.

But what's the tour entail I hear you ask? It'll be an audacious journey through the history of our famed football club as we visit sites of special importance to us all. The tour is being developed constantly so if you can suggest further areas of the locality that have added to the story of the Martyrs then please get in touch so that we can bring Hulby up to speed.

The first port of call for those wishing to learn the background to the all-conquering football teams of Merthyr is Park Terrace, our guests will be free to amble down the tree lined artery that links our fine stadium to the outside world. Here our guide will be joined by colleagues to give a practical demonstration of the hidden Merthyr art of bouncing a parked car out of the way of a visiting team bus before they reach the St. Mary's Church.

Here they will be asked to pause at the memorial plate to the original pick up point for all supporters' club away trips, once again aided by his colleagues the Guide will look to re-enact the pushing and shoving of the supporters as the Parfitts bus arrived, any tourists who manage to beat the tour guide team to the back seats of the bus will win prizes. Smacking the seats and spreading a dust storm through the coach is strictly prohibited although historically correct.

As the tour group turns left on the Brecon Road there will be just enough time to gaze upon the Edwardian splendour of the Park View public house, those brave enough to undertake the "last pint before the bus" challenge can re-live the unique Merthyr tradition of ordering a lager even though the bus had just pulled up in front of the church. Hulby will supervise the consumption of the pints before heading for the British Tip (of course the subsequent traditional piss stop at Tafarnaubach will not be covered on the current tour).

The British Tip section of the day is the first of our character events, the tour guides will dress in appropriate 1980s police costume complete with obligatory moustaches and help to re-enact the post-match scenes from the 6-1 defeat by Enfield from the era. Tourists will be handed small packets of rocks in order to meet the challenge of stoning the visiting supporters' coaches parked in the Castle car park, once again a direct hit will result in a prize although a true re-enactment would be to run around aimlessly from the police giggling before trying to buy cider in the Fountain Shop.

The tour party by now will arrive at the new embarkment point for all Travel Club trips; the Law Courts. In bad weather there will be an opportunity to seek shelter in the doorway of the Courts as hundreds of expectant travellers have in the past. Hulby has special access to enter the building so that everyone can gaze upon the actual photocopier that worked through the night in 1989 to produce the 1st issue of the Dial M For Merthyr fanzine, but remember no touching!

As the group heads into Glebeland Street they will be in need of refreshment, and here they will have reached one of the most important watering holes for the discerning Merthyr supporter; the Wyndham Arms. This tavern has become the spring board for all away games (although for an evening match a pint of Rhymney Dark in the Winchester has also been known to have sufficed), so the lucky tourists can pause to reflect on the majesty of our town with a pint whilst watching the racing from Wincanton and listening to the Clash on the juke box. It doesn't get better than that for the vast majority of Merthyr fans. A true opportunity, although we're a bit worried that Hulby and his team won't be any position to carry on the home leg of the tour by this time.

But onwards they must go and it's across the road, through the alley, and into the bus station to visit one of the many places of pilgrimage for those who still worship the 1987 Welsh Cup winning team. Yes it's the spot at the X4 Cardiff bus-stop where Ceri Williams was found sleeping on the Monday morning after the game (yes the replay was played on a Thursday), it's been said that a short nap at this spot can cure the most fierce of hangover. It's like a boozy lourdes. Hulby will need to compose himself at this point and move the party quickly down the High Street to visit the 1980s version of the Merthyr web-site. Where did you buy the Football Echo for the match reports from home and away? Where did you buy raffle tickets? Where were you able to catch up on the gossip from the club? Yes, Bernard's Newsagent where a quality selection of porn and fireworks were also on display. We were quite excited when the new building on the corner of Swan Street was being built, there were rumours of a museum to commemorate the shop complete with low ceiling but we think it's a barber shop instead. Where was Cadw to prevent this happening?

The trail now heads back up the High Street heading towards the Old Town Hall but first the party will be able to pop into the shoe shop at the bottom of the arcade built on the site of the old estate agent where supporters sold tickets for the Welsh Cup Final in May '87.

A quick detour up the arcade to stand outside Tesco is next, this used be the site of the original Train Station and it seems that in our early days visiting teams or supporters were routinely encouraged to leave the town by the discerning locals, the tour party will be aided by Hulby and his colleagues to hurl filthy and abusive language in a 1911 fashion to extras dressed as Edwardian Cardiff fans. It's fun for all the family but done in a responsibly historical manner.

Each tour member will be handed a black & white rubettes style hat and a Lyn Jones black & white dragons scarve for the next stage of the journey. An open top double decker bus with Frankie Hegarty upon it will drive slowly up Castle Street, Frankie will hold a replica of the Welsh Cup and the tour party will be able to relive the Cup win parade from 1987. Black v-neck jumpers and thin, pale blue club ties will be worn by all tour guides at this point in deference to the dress code of the day. Recordings of Lyn Jones's speech will be played from the balcony. The Old Town Hall is an integral part of the Merthyr football story, it was here that the public meetings were held in the formation of the new club in 1945. It would be great if a football museum could be added to any plans the council has for the current site especially as it was here that the courage of servicemen sending money back from the outposts of the war was rewarded by setting up of Merthyr Tydfil AFC.

The party will be tired by now, the walk around the gilded streets of the borough coupled with magnitude of both our club's history and potential would have exhausted even the fittest and most cynical of tourist but there's no time for rest as the Tour Guides will push on up the High Street past an icon of cuisine that satisfied generations of Merthyr supporters; Hing Hongs or to be accurate to the local dialect; Billy Bongs. A few tourists may feel the need to lay flowers in memory of the Special Chow Mein with an Egg on top, Hulby may need to be consoled at this point but he is a professional and will carry on his duties.

There will only be time for a quick nod to the Anchor, the current post-match watering hole for the fanzine team, before moving swiftly up the famous street to reach the Imperial Hotel. The tour would with ordinary circumstances be able to experience the pre-match routine of the first Merthyr Town teams who for three seasons used the Tiger Inn on this site as their dressing rooms before walking up to Penydarren Park for a game but scandalously no-one seems to want to take responsibility for the derelict YMCA building so the famous Pontmorlais Steps remain closed. It is said that the Spanish Steps in Rome were modelled on their Pontmorlais counterpart. Once again Cadw remain silent on the issue. Please note that it will be impossible for the party to enter the Imperial as the landlord has a strict No Gangs policy.

We now reach the final part of the tour, our skilled Tour Guides will be on hand with mountaineering equipment to aid the tour party in their final challenge the assault course from Pontmorlais Promenade past the old Cenotaph up the grass bank and over the fence by the Freemasons' Temple. The tour will now have returned to Penydarren Park where the guests will be able to contemplate their day with a complimentary Peter's Pie outside a deserted Strikers.

Dates and times of tours will be confirmed soon, subject of course to Hulby's shift patterns at the hospital.

Dial M for Merthyr Tours coming soon!

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