Dial M For Merthyr #48 hits the terraces
So it’s been 5 years since the last issue of Dial M For Merthyr, to be fair they’ve probably been the most turbulent at Penydarren Park since we started playing the round ball game at the end of Park Terrace.
When you last read your favourite (and only) Merthyr fanzine we are in the final throes of the previous regime and their desperate attempts to get the supporters to fund more madness in the name of Merthyr Tydfil FC.
The well had run dry. The chickens had come home to roost. The fat lady was singing. So in stepped the Trust to protect the club from itself. We’re still the only set of supporters in the UK that has placed its own club into administration. A bold move but ultimately an expensive one.
Did we have a plan? Yes. Did we know how things would develop? Probably not but we had the determination and the support to move things forward away.
The public meetings at the Penydarren Club were always well attended and the support & belief of those supporters was to prove invaluable as the Trust inched its way towards the reformed club model.
The advice and encouragement of Supporters Direct through those months cannot be underestimated and their work lobbying at National Association level was to prove invaluable. We weren’t shy of lobbying the relevant powerbrokers ourselves and a few Saturday afternoons were spent “accidentally” bumping into decision makers through the twilight days of the 2009/10 season.
The reserves built up by the Trust were required during those difficult days in administration, the FA’s insistence that all business transactions were handled by the Administrator was to prove costly in both time and more importantly money. Full credit to the Trust Board at that time for ensuring that the club was able to settle its affairs through that season in charge of Merthyr Tydfil. The settling of the football debts including reaching agreement with our players was to prove invaluable again to our reformed club being accepted by both the FA and FAW.
Those days helped forge the ethos of the current club in that nothing is impossible, we just need to tackle it head-on; we need to find an alternative ground in 48 hours? Well let’s get in the car and drive around South Wales then. I’ll never forget Taffs Well’s reaction to John Strand measuring up their Stand before we’d even broached the subject of a ground share. As I say it was a time for bold moves, faint heart never won fair maiden etc etc
The visit to Swindon Supermarine was to be such a bitter-sweet moment for so many Merthyr Tydfil supporters. We knew our club was dying and that at 4.45pm the life support machine provided by its biggest benefactors, the supporters, was to be switched off but we were going out with a party. I’ll never forget their clubhouse rammed full of Merthyr fans determined to give the old club a great send off. Balloons, beers and more than a few songs. I was asked by one fan “will be OK?” and I looked around the room at all the positive, never say die, fellow supporters and I thought “yeah, we’ll be back”.
The post-match photo opportunity will go down in history and let’s hope we can fulfill the promise of that banner and ensure that we are back in the Southern League Premier soon.
The hard work then started to ensure that we complied with every bit of the FA Regulations. The consultation meetings with the FAW continued, the business plan was finalized, the agreement to play at Taffs Well was confirmed.
The next landmark date was waiting for our delegation to report back from Wembley as we were interviewed by the FA to ascertain whether we would be viable to run Merthyr Town FC in their pyramid system.
Someone referred to the process as being in the Grand National. A series of hurdles to be overcome before the winning post.
The FAW’s acceptance of our club’s compliance with FA regulations was certainly a major hurdle overcome.
Merthyr Town FC was registered as a Community Mutual. We became the first supporter-owned club in Wales. The first truly constituted community club in our country.
The Western League was to be our destination but which division? A lot of work had to be undertaken and funded to ensure that Taffs Well matched the lower criteria and so without Penydarren Park as our home we prepared on that first day to visit Shepton Mallet.
When the lads in red & green ran out on that sunny day in Somerset it was very emotional on so many levels, I remembered back to the endless meetings with Mr Holloway when he often advised us that supporters couldn’t run a club. There we were doing just that.
I along with many other owned a football club. I still do.
That year at Taffs Well was fantastic to be honest, it wasn’t home of course but for that inaugural campaign it was an adventure that will live long in the memory. The 12.38 train down the Valley was always lively with plenty of banter with Cardiff City fans, the Ex Servicemen’s Club was a welcome host and the local bookie put his daughter through university with the money we lost on the horses.
Our supporter initiatives to get increased support worked well, the infamous “From the Wall to the Well” idea put about 50 Cardiff fans on the gate after their morning kick off against Millwall. In fact our attendances dropped when we eventually went home.
Meanwhile back in the Pearl the ongoing partnership with Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council had resulted in the lease of Penydarren Park being returned to us. Once again full credit to the Club (aka Trust) directors for nurturing that relationship which was to deliver even more benefits in time.
Could we return home as Champions? You know we did so why ask? Is your memory that short?
Home sweet home. Penydarren Park. CF47 8RF. With a return home came new responsibilities. Bills to be paid. Walls to be painted. The chores never end of course but it’s now our house to decorate. We may have beaten the doubters but the revolution continues, every day, as we need to raise both funds to pay our way and awareness of our unique club to ensure our future.
Another promotion, a play-off defeat and now challenging once again with a 3G pitch and of course funded by every one of us as co-owners. No more single benefactors acting in isolation with no clue as to the legacy for future generations in our town. Exciting times ahead with the development of the ground.
It was worth it. It was never in doubt we would win.