Bright and Breezy by Chairman Mao

The Dial M group assembled at Anthea's cafe at Bro Dawel with the news of the Newport deals fresh from the press. Shepherd in exchange for our old friend Clarkey, it seems good business to me.
Gary Shep has never really caught the imagination of the Martyrs fans, we've been used to players like Paul Caviel and more recently Phil Green who always gave everything for the black & white shirt no matter what the occasion. It was never a matter of confidence for these players but more of pride in the Merthyr shirt.
Gary Shep is capable of getting goals, his goal at Ninian Park in the FAW Premier Cup being one of the best of this season, an exquisite header showing that he can finish. Maybe a change of scenery will suit him, let's hope he doesn't finally get going at Spytty Park on April 24th, irony? Don't get me started. I only hope that by the time that this issue appears that Darren Ryan has returned from his loan deal at the Gwenties a favourite of this publication who hasn't seemed to have been given a fair crack at the team. Darren buys his round, a true gent.
The departure of Shep brings back Dean Clarke to Penydarren Park, to be honest he's just the type of player required during a relegation battle, a real competitor in the midfield designed to win the ball, his partnership with Lossy could provide vital in the coming months. We need a supply from which Danny Carter and Cohen Griffith can create chances. It would seem that Jimmy Mullen is finally beginning to shape the squad that he requires' for a promotion push next season hopefully it won't be to regain our place in this division.
We need points from every match we play this season, points make prizes after all, so what could we expect from Halesowen Town? The Yeltz have always had a great relationship with us, right back to their first match in the Southern League in 1986 when they recovered from 1-3 down to take the points with a 5-3 win, a classic. The Supporters Club football team have continued to play their friendly curtain raisers with their Black Country counterparts, upon our arrival at The Yeltz Club it was obvious from the celebrations that Steve Rees had lead his troops to yet another win, 4-3 with even Llama scoring from a header. A good omen?
A couple of swift lagers, the clubhouse was full with plenty of Merthyr fans discussing the transfer news. The general belief that this could be our day. For some reason I haven't been to Halesowen since Phil Evans rose like a salmon to earn a point in the late eighties. The ground hasn't changed much since then, it's one of the most open grounds in non-league football so I wasn't surprised to see most of the crowd huddled behind the goals for the first half.
The Martyrs started in fine form, we could have scored as early as the first minute when a Carter cross was missed by the other new boy Dean Birkby. Carter bolstered by Clarke and Loss was controlling the midfield, with Cohen and Mikey Regan making most of our attacks down the right wing. It was time for lady luck to intervene, a Carter cross deceived everyone and the Halesowen keeper could do nothing but slice the ball into his own net. Bedlam behind the goals, fifth from bottom but 1-0 up. Come on you Martyrs! The support grew in voice, the temperature dropped.
Nathan bought a round of chips, Wingnut got the teas in. Merthyr fans just seemed to spend the first half walking around trying to take in the fact that the Martyrs were back to their best. Then came half-time.

Time to venture out from our haven of shelter and warmth, so began the great trek. A march that will one day go down in history along with Scott's ill-fated vaunt to the South Pole the Merthyr fans set off in single file along the top of the terraces heading for the Stourbridge Road End. The wind was biting, frostbite ever present. The Valleys spirit pulled us through, when a colleague stopped and refused to go on there was always another supporter on hand to encourage, soon a hardy bunch had arrived. A massive black & white flag appeared, it almost took Little Dai to Kidderminster as the storm force wind heightened. A Red Dragon showing "Merthyr Tydfil AFC" was acting like a beacon and by the time both teams re-emerged for the second half, the hundred and fifty or so Merthyr supporters had all made it.
Lee Price had replaced Cohen shortly before the break and so the Martyrs seemed to be more defensive from the re-start. It was freezing on that terrace and Merthyr had lost control of the match, for thirty minutes the Yeltz kept the pressure on but to their credit the Merthyr defence marshalled by Sky never gave in as they have many times this season. Tom Ramasut putting in some great tackles before being replaced by Richard Gardner. The frozen steppes of Worcestershire still echoed with support from the Merthyr supporter's huddled around the makeshift igloos that had been built. Lossy cleared off the line, their centre forward shot wide when 'one on one' with Seamus. The Martyrs ended the match strongly though with Logger leading the line after replacing the tired Birkby who looks useful, good in the air with some good touches on the ground.
The final whistle brought great scenes of joy behind the goals, have we turned the corner? As we set off back across the great divide, every Merthyr player was applauded by those of us who still could use their frozen limbs.
The Yeltz Bar brought warmth and lager. Results came in, we were up to fifteenth. We headed back to Wales, suffering the awful 606 phone-in program on Radio 5, does the Premiership need anymore coverage? Does the media care about supporters who don't follow the consumer giants of Manchester, Liverpool and London? It would appear not. Only when reports of trouble at Reading came through was there any deviance from the set agenda. Whilst supporters from Tottenham and Middlesborough moaned of poor results and commitment, our car full of fans felt pride in a magnificent display of pride by the Merthyr players today. Neither Cardiff nor Swansea but international Merthyrism!!

Chairman Mao


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