1984 Miners Strike
I suppose that as you get older you notice more anniversaries on the horizon. One of the more high profile events to be remembered this year is the Miners’ Strike of 1984 and its obvious legacy on the communities across South Wales but what of its impact on Merthyr Tydfil FC at that time?
Well I was just 17 years old in ’84 and the strike seemed at first a distant conflict, there weren’t many if any miners in Trefechan, I recall the bucket collections in the town centre to support the miners’ families but without today’s 24/7 blanket coverage of the news there was only the now obviously heavily edited news programmes to find out what was happening around the country.
The strike came home to me during an away match to the Midlands, it could have been to Willenhall (they won the title in the Southern League Midland division that season), Bridgnorth or even Oldbury. The coach was taking the usual route and was climbing out of Monmouth only to be pulled into a lay-by just past the “Welcome to England” sign by a police car. I remember the police boarding the coach to check if we were flying pickets, no charm offensive here, this was also during the time that the fans travelled with the team so the players were questioned to prove they were on their way to a football match. A couple of fans came from down the Valley and their addresses caused us more delays as the police presumably had to check their details. We were delayed for quite a time.
This occurred a couple more times before the end of that season. Looking back now it was all part of the Conservative government’s intimidation of the South Wales coalfield and its communities. A tactic that was to reach its nadir with the Battle of Orgreave, an event that is well overdue an inquiry into the police tactics of that hot summer day of 18th June 1984 near Rotherham.
I still raise a smile as we roar past the Croeso I Loegr sign and remember those days when freedom of movement was not so guaranteed for people leaving the Heads of the Valleys area.
Oh by the way, the other team promoted from our division that year was Shepshed Charterhouse – what happened to them?