Showing your support by Wolvesy
“Badges, we don’t need no stinking badges!” is one of the best lines in the classic Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles but we all need badges, don’t we? Something personal that shows both who or what we support and what our values are to the outside world.
I wore this Merthyr Tydfil AFC badge on the lapel of my Vaynor & Penderyn school blazer every day I was in that fine establishment of learning. I probably wore it firstly because the chance of getting any MTFC merchandise in that era was virtually nil. The club shop operated out of the tea hut at the end of the grandstand and it was never open in the seventies and when those wooden boards were ever open then every kid in the ground would flock there to buy anything available but it was always the same stuff – key-rings, rosettes and badges.
So even a badge was a rarity and such a rare item could never be allowed to rest somewhere in a drawer to be lost in some clear out years later. It had to be shown off, it was a family heirloom on display to the world.
It also showed, I hope, that I was different to my school-mates. In my head they were all glory hunters following Manchester United, Liverpool and even Leeds United whilst I was an underground rebel supporting my local team. I was authentic, nothing easy for me, I was going to the games, I went to away games. Look at me everyone! I’m different!
In reality of course no one cared but that didn’t stop me imagining myself as a football bohemian travelling the dark roads of England & Wales watching our local heroes representing my town in the greatest game in the world.
The non-league world in the late seventies and early eighties was often a scary place to live of course, it was the era of Thatcher, mass unemployment, industrial conflict and widespread working-class despair.
But I kept wearing that badge. It was transferred from my school blazer to my parka when I followed the Martyrs. That badge and my knitted personal “Mark – Merthyr” black & white scarf were my uniform for every trip to Barry Town, Gloucester City, Kidderminster Harriers or Cheltenham Town. It was definitely naïve of me to advertise my allegiance to the mighty Martyrs but every escape from a mob or a fight witnessed was relayed to my mates in school on a Monday with relish and a lot of self-exaggeration. I was a hooligan in everything but reality.
I thought the badge was lost to the depths of history, a victim of the numerous house moves that happen in any life, just another piece of someone’s personal world lost in a landfill of memories lost or abandoned to the oblivion of time.
I found it in my Dad’s house of course, it’s a MTFC emblem and my Dad would never get rid such an item, a memory, a part of the family connection to the Martyrs. So it’s back and attached to my bucket hat and it still represents me and my connection to the past and the future of our football club.